Web Update: Handling the Pressure

While other healthcare providers may not obsess about pressure relief the way that seating professionals do, there's plenty of indication that the physical and financial tolls of pressure ulcers are getting more and more attention. One of the precipitating events: a 2008 change in Medicare payment policy that defined pressure ulcers as a "never" event - meaning that they should always be avoidable - and made hospitals responsible for pressure ulcers that patients developed while hospitalized.

Here's a quick look around the Web at a couple of recent pressure ulcer and pressure relief stories:

A new study has listed pressure ulcers as a co-morbidity for dementia patients. The study - published in volume 14 of BMC (BioMed Central) Psychiatry - was conducted primarily by Spanish researchers, who investigated co-morbidities in dementia patients 65 years and older. The study involved nearly 73,000 dementia patients who were at least 65 years old and were seen in 19 primary care centers in Spain in 2008.

While the study found the two most frequent co-morbidities were hypertension and diabetes, chronic pressure ulcers were also listed.

Patients at a Lumberton, N.C., hospital are taking part in a new program to encourage them to be more physically active during their stays.

This month, Southeastern Regional Medical Center started assessing the personal mobility of its critical-care patients on the day of admission. The new program has five different levels depending on patient ability: Breathe, Tilt, Sit, Stand and Move.

Anita Thurman, a nurse practitioner who is also the facility's wound care coordinator, said in a Southeastern news release that the goals of the program are to reduce the risks of complications related to immobility, such as pneumonia and pressure sores.

Once patients are assessed, their hospitalization plans will include "one to four sessions of movement per day," the news release said.

Thurman said of the program, "Most of the time when people are hospitalized they expect to lie in bed and rest during the majority of their time here. Research shows that lying in bed and not moving actually causes the muscles to weaken and can be harmful to the patients' healing process."

Depending on their abilities, patients' mobility programs could include changing the angle of their beds for a short amount of time, sitting on the side of the bed, standing or walking in place.

The program, titled "From Bed Rest to at Your Best," also encourages patients to take on more responsibility for mobility-related activities of daily living, such as dressing and bathing themselves rather than relying on hospital personnel to perform those tasks.

The program will be extended to patients outside of critical care on July 1.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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