Today is International Stop the Pressure Day, a campaign originally launched by NHS Midlands and East in their quest to make life better for patients. NHS Improvement now spearhead this campaign to raise awareness of the causes of pressure ulcers and the steps that can be taken to prevent them for improved quality of care.
A pressure ulcer is an area of damage that occurs to the skin and underlying tissue, causing discomfort to patients.*
Bony parts of the body such as the heels, elbows, hips and base of the spine* are areas most subject to risk of pressure sores. In a lot of cases, pressure ulcers can be prevented.
In our field, pressure requirements are a key aspect in selecting appropriate equipment for patients. This is because bariatric patients are at an increased risk of developing pressure sores as a result of poor circulation to fatty tissue. Added to the fact some bariatric patients have restricted mobility and may be subject to prolonged periods in one position.
Points to remember
We must remember not to generalise and that all patients are different, but without the correct preventative measures, serious tissue damage can occur.
NHS improvement have adopted the aSSKINg** acronym, which stands for:
- assess risk
- Skin assessment and care
- Surface selection and use – do patients have appropriate support?
- Keep moving – avoiding prolonged periods in one position
- Incontinence and increased moisture– keeping patients clean and dry
- Nutrition/hydration– it is so important to make sure patients have a good diet with plenty of fluids
- give information – raising awareness
Finding areas of the body at risk of pressure damage –
Body pressure mapping systems are available that can actively map pressure points when patients are lying on a particular surface, this active mapping helps to identify areas at risk of pressure damage that subsequently require attention.
The system comprises of a non-intrusive sensor mat that is integrated on top of the mattress cover
Mapping allows for the detection of non-uniform pressures on a certain surface, which in the long run could result in skin ulcers. Using a system like this can help in the selection of an appropriate surface for your patients.