Technology Tackles the Pressure Ulcer

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , May 7, 2013

Here's how the system works. A thin mat, part of the MAP system developed by Wellsense, Inc. of Nashville, gets placed on a mattress with a color monitor attached. The mat contains thousands of sensors and is secured to the top of the mattress with straps.

These sensors measure pressures through a sensing area about the size of a single bed. These sensors display specific areas of pressure, and as clinicians reposition patients, the system provides live feedback to them so they can see the changing pressure in real time. The monitor acts as an educational tool for staff, patients, and family by showing where the pressure points are located.

Another key feature: a bed alarm that clinicians can set to sound at a desired interval to alert nurses or other clinicians when it is time to turn a patient. For this study, the alarms were set for two hours.

Matthew Q. Pompeo, MD is medical director of  the long-term acute care facility where the Wounds study was conducted. Pompeo has been handling wound patients for 17 years, and says he conducted the trial in three stages.

In stage one, he put the mats on the facility's 55 beds, but "didn't really say much" to staff about what the mats were for. This established a baseline turning frequency. In the second phase, staff could see the pressure map on the video screen so they could reposition patients, but still did not know that the turnings themselves were being recorded. Not surprisingly, turning frequency did not improve much.

In the final phase, the center's staff were made aware that the turnings were being recorded around the clock, and at that point, turning of patients improved significantly.

Oddly enough, there isn't much science behind the turning standard of care being two hours, Pompeo says. "One of the original articles that made that popular was done simply because that's how long it took them to finish their rounds and start over again," he notes.

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