An innovative dressing that helps reduce friction and protect vulnerable areas of skin could be used to prevent pressure ulcers among hospital patients, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Wound dressings are not usually used to help prevent pressure ulcers in the NHS. But NICE has suggested Mepilex Border dressings could be a useful addition to standard ulcer prevention methods.
“The intended place in therapy would be in addition to standard pressure ulcer prevention strategies”
The recommendation comes in a new Medtech Innovation Briefing (MIB), which are commissioned by NHS England and published this month by NICE.
MIBs are among measures designed to speed up the adoption of credible new treatments and technology in the NHS.
The newly-published briefing on Mepilex is believed to be the first covering the use of a dressing for ulcer prevention.
NICE said the innovative aspects of the dressings were the fact they were “designed to reduce pressure and friction caused by patient movements”.
They also featured technology that enabled them to be easily applied, removed or peeled back and stuck down again with the aim of minimising pain when changing dressings or inspecting skin, it said.
“The intended place in therapy would be in addition to standard pressure ulcer prevention strategies for people at risk of developing pressure ulcers in acute care,” stated the briefing.
The self-adhesive, multi-layered soft foam dressings, devised by the product’s manufacturer Mölynlycke Health Care, are specially designed so they can be peeled back and re-applied multiple times.
The products are intended to be used for hospital patients of all ages who are considered to be at risk of pressure ulcers and could also be used in the community for people at risk of ulcers due to mobility issues.
Dressings would mainly be applied by nursing staff with no extra training needed, suggested the briefing.
It focused on two types of the dressing. Those specifically for use on the heel and sacrum, areas where there is a high risk of pressure ulcers forming.
These are made up of five layers, with the first closest to the skin designed to reduce friction between the skin and dressing itself.
mx b heel pressure ulcer dressing
“The other four layers are variously designed to cushion, prevent stretch or tear, absorb moisture or allow moisture to evaporate,” noted the briefing.
Meanwhile, “Safetac” technology meant the dressings could be peeled back and put on again “enabling multiple inspections of the skin site without needing to fully replace the dressing”.
The briefing highlighted research carried out in Australia and the US, which suggested using the dressings alongside standard care was more effective than standard care alone.
Research published to date includes two randomised controlled trials and a cohort study, encompassing more than 950 adult patients treated in emergency and urgent care.
One trial involving 313 patients found “significantly fewer” ulcers among those treated, with the dressing compared to those who just got standard care.
However, NICE stressed that “none of the evidence was from the UK”, so the findings may not be generally applicable to the NHS.
The briefing also highlighted the fact the evidence covered adults only and more research was needed to determine whether the Mepilex Border dressings would be useful for children.
It said using the dressings as part of efforts to reduce ulcers would cost more with the Mepilex Border Heel priced at £6.61 per dressing and the Mepilex Border Sacrum costing between £3.13 and £7.26.
“But this might be offset if Mepilex Border dressings were to reduce the incidence or severity of pressure ulcers,” added the briefing.
NICE is due to review its guidance on preventing and managing pressure ulcers next year.