A bedsore, also called a pressure ulcer, is a scourge for anyone confined to a wheelchair or to a bed.
Pressing the body against a surface for a long period of time creates a situation in which capillaries cannot deliver oxygen to the tissues. Tissue begins to die, creating a crater in the surface of the skin.
Some ulcers become so deep that the body’s layer of subcutaneous fat is exposed. At their worst, they can drill down to expose the muscle tissue and the bones. Bedsores tend to develop in areas where patients have little cushioning between skin and bone. They commonly affect elbows, heels, ankles, hips and buttocks.
Complications include infections of the skin’s connective tissue, or cellulitis, as well as infections of the bone and muscle. Some patients even develop an aggressive type of cancer that usually requires surgical treatment.
Hospitals admit over half a million patients because of bedsores and their complications. The condition costs the U.S. healthcare system about $11.5 billion every year. When pressure ulcers develop in a medical facility, Medicare labels them a “never” event, meaning that they provide no reimbursement. Many medical facilities have to bear these costs on their own.
To curb this costly and painful condition, Wellsense has created a MAP system that monitors the pressure placed on patients’ skin as they lay on a bed. The monitor shows high-pressure areas in red and low-pressure areas in blue.
Nurses can use the map when they reposition patients so that they don’t accidentally prolong pressure on a particular part of the body. According to a study in the journal WOUNDS, the Wellsense MAP system allowed caregivers to cut “damaging time” by 63 percent.
The MAP system challenges caregivers’ beliefs that experience will tell them how to move and position their patients to prevent pressure ulcers. In fact, one unnamed wound care specialist in the study commented that the changes suggested by MAP use were not what he or she would have expected.
Many immobile patients suffer unnecessarily from pressure ulcers. With MAP technology, according to WOUNDS, medical facilities can decrease incidences of bedsores by as much as 60 percent.
Edited by Brooke Neuman