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‘Red band’ preventing pressure ulcers caused by casts

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Staff at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have eliminated pressure ulcers caused by devices like plaster casts with the help of a “simple red stripe”.

During 2014-15, the trust had six cases of severe device-related pressure ulcers spurring a group of staff to design some actions they felt could eliminate all cases in the future.

“The red band on the casts is a simple idea that is making a real difference”

Rachael Browning

The trust said one of the key actions had been the addition of a simple red band around all plaster casts worn by patients at greater risk of developing a pressure ulcer.

The band is intended to act as a “visual highlight” that extra care needs to be taken with the patient and encourages staff to frequently change their position, encourage them to be mobile and relieve pressure on the cast.

The red banded cast idea has been backed up by extra training and awareness for staff.

There has not been a single device related pressure ulcer among hospital patients since it was introduced at the trust’s Warrington Hospital and Halton General Hospital last June.

Rachael Browning, associate director of nursing for scheduled care at Warrington and Halton, said: “We identified that there was an increased risk caused by plaster of paris and other splints and supports that we use in the hospitals.

“Whilst those devices are needed to treat fractures and other injuries, it was creating problems for some less mobile patients by causing potential harm through pressure ulcers,” she said.

Ms Browning described the red bands on casts as a “simple idea that is making a real difference”.

“By clearly highlighting the patients at high risk we have seen this fantastic reduction in cast related pressure ulcers,” she said.

She added: “We have seen a really positive result from this initiative in the hospital and we are hoping to cascade the learning and the red striped cast into the community.”

The initiative has not only made a difference to care quality, it has also been completely cost neutral for the hospitals, said the trust. Staff are now sharing their ideas with other trusts.

It forms been part of a programme of work around reducing all pressure ulcers that the trust has been prioritising over the last few years, with cases falling by around 40% last year.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • michael stone

    '... it has also been completely cost neutral for the hospitals, said the trust' ? Surely the effort needed to be confident in stating that, would out-weigh the benefit of establishing it (my issue is with the word 'completely' - I wouldn't have had an objection to 'probably', 'roughly' or 'apparently').

    But, I like the 'thinking' and the solution to the problem - well done.

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