Ask the treatment expert: Are there new repositioning guidelines for preventing pressure ulcers?

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Q: Are there any new tools to help caregivers adhere to repositioning guidelines to prevent pressure ulcers?

A: The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) and Wound Ostomy Continence Nurses Society (WOCN) offer guidelines for the prevention and treatment of pressure sores.

The NPUAP Quick Reference Guide states, “Repositioning contributes to the individual's comfort, dignity and functional ability. Reposition the individual in such a way that pressure is relieved or redistributed.”

Being able to determine where the high-pressure areas are located and eliminating the pressure is always a challenge to caregivers.

A new technology (offered by Nashville-based Wellsense) offers bedside pressure mapping (BPM), which displays a real-time color image of pressure data. The system can be used on any existing bed, allowing caregivers and patients to see and react to the real-time color display. The product's real-time feedback is an invaluable tool for guiding caregivers in off-loading high pressure points, especially over bony prominences. Being able to off-load pressure decreases the possibility of a resident developing a pressure ulcer.

The current guidelines reflect a turning schedule of every two hours. If a resident is at a high risk of developing pressure ulcers, turning more often may be necessary. Facilities currently use different means of notifying caregivers of turning schedules. The BPM system also alerts the caregiver when the repositioning time has expired and a new repositioning is due. This helps when repositioning multiple residents.

The ability to confirm that turning and repositioning strategies were successful is important in preventing the occurrence of pressure ulcers.