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Repositioning older people every three hours reduces pressure ulcers


Repositioning older persons at risk of pressure ulcers every three hours at night, using the “30 degree tilt” method, reduces the incidence of pressure ulcers, according to Irish researchers.

They studied 99 patients who were repositioned every three hours at night using the 30 degree tilt – the patient is placed in a laterally-inclined position, supported by pillows, with their back making a 30 degree angle with the support surface.

The authors compared pressure ulcer development in this first group with a second “usual care” group of 114 patients who were repositioned every six hours using 90 degree lateral rotation.

The authors found 3% in the 30 degree group developed an ulcer compared to 11% in the usual care group.

The authors said: “An effective method of pressure ulcer prevention has been identified; in the light of the problem of pressures ulcers, current prevention strategies should be reviewed.

“It is important to implement appropriate prevention strategies, of which repositioning is one.”


Readers' comments (42)

  • Goodness me, we've only known this for several decades! Isn't research a wonderful thing?

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  • I think it is important to have evidence to back this up. It is one area of care where there is little evidence to support practice

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  • This is hardly new, we were doing this in the seventies when I trained. We may not have had the evidence but we knew it worked.

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  • How can these studies be compared to each other when there is a time difference of 3 HOURS? For decades, (to re-inforce the use of this word used by an earlier commentor), we hands on nurses have been repositioning patients every 2 hours, Is this another way to save money by cutting it back further to 3-6 hours?

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  • Anonymous | 30-Jun-2011 12:47 pm

    personal observation over many decades provides ample evidence!

    Where is the evidence is a mere modern nursing cliché!

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  • further to the above, do not forget that good sound and effective nursing practice and care is an art which cannot always be simply deconstructed into mere science alone!

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  • But surely we already have the evidence, and have had for many many decades, which is why we've always done it, still do it, and teach new nurses to do it. The evidence is the pressure sore that the patient develops if you don't do it. Evidence doesn't have to arise from complex research studies, it is also valuable when it's as simple and obvious as this.

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  • Interesting comments here about the value of research verses clinical experience. We live in a very different world of the 1970s where we have to support and justify why we deliver care in a particular way. I think this sort of research is of great value as it supports the nursing interventions used in practice. It also helps us thinks more logically about risk assessment.

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  • wow i did not know that.

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  • I'm with the others on this - we were regularly turning patients every 2 hours back in the 70s and early 80s. One of the first things we were taught was that pressure sores were a sign of bad nursing care! When, as stated in the article, did it go to 6 hourly turns? From experience, we learned that 2-3 hourly turns were best so was it ethical to leave patients for 6 hours?

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