Virgin Care has adopted a pioneering new scanner for pressure ulcer prevention, after a significant reduction in ulcers was seen during a pilot scheme using the technology.
The independent provider, which has a number of community service contracts, has announced that it will be equipping its nurses with Bruin Biometrics’ (BBI) SEM Scanner.
It follows a six-month pilot in which the company said pressure ulcer prevalence fell by around 95% at a community hospital trialing the hand-held device, which was the brainchild of a US nurse.
As exclusively revealed last year by Nursing Times, the scanner is also being tested at several NHS hospitals and has been described as a “game changer” in tissue viability by the nursing professor that invented it.
The device is designed to detect the early warning signs of pressure-related skin damage days before it is visible to the naked eye, allowing nurses to take swift preventative action.
The scanner, which works by measuring changes in moisture under the skin, is placed on areas where damage is most likely to occur, such as the heels and sacrum, providing an almost instant reading.
Virgin Care said it would initially deploy 10 scanners for detecting early-stage ulcers, but potentially leading to up to 100 being introduced at the NHS community hospitals that it runs in England.
“These results were a combination of good nursing care and advanced technology”
The decision follows a pilot on two wards at Farnham Community Hospital in Surrey, where it was used alongside traditional care to improve patient experience and reduce nurse time spent on diagnosis and treatment.
In the study, hospital-acquired pressure ulcers were reduced to nearly zero and existing ulcers were identified upon admission, enabling clinicians to catch damage earlier and reverse it with “timely and targeted” care.
Virgin Care said it observed that using the SEM Scanner, in combination with traditional standards of visual skin assessment, led to more accurate patient diagnosis.
As a result, it said unnecessary treatments for high-risk, but healthy patients, were avoided.
Virgin adopts ‘game changing’ pressure ulcer scanner
Source: Colin Smith
In addition, improvements in patient care and safety led to a boost in morale among nurses and nurse assistants using the scanner, it added.
Kirsty Thurlby, a nurse involved in the pilot programme, said: “These results were a combination of good nursing care and advanced technology.
“The SEM Scanner, by providing evidence of early pressure ulcer damage and engaging patients and their families, helps our hospital teams protect patients and their loved ones from the potentially life-threatening repercussions of pressure ulcers,” she added.
BBI said it was “working with other NHS” providers around adoption of the scanner.
Virgin Care operates around 230 services for the NHS – mostly in primary, intermediate and community care. They include two major community service contracts covering Surrey and Kent.