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50 Years of Fighting Pressure Ulcers Called Into Question

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, November 26, 2013

The study showed that that there was no difference in the incidence of pressure ulcers for residents turned at different intervals. Moreover, only 2% of patients developed pressure ulcers at all, and ones who did developed only stage one or two pressure ulcers.

"That's an extremely low rate," Bergstrom says.

Bergstrom says the cost of buying new, high-density foam mattresses is absolutely worth it.

"Not having as many pressure ulcers is worth the money invested in the mattresses," she says. "Facilities have to invest in new mattresses from time to time anyway."

In addition to reducing the incidents of pressure ulcers and improving patient's quality of life by letting them sleep, Bergstrom says less-frequent patient turning could benefit nurses and CNAs, too. Firstly, they'll have the physical burden of turning patients only half as often if they do it every four hours instead of every two. Secondly, a less-frequent turning schedule will free up some of their time.

"Time for CNAs is precious," Bergstrom says. "They could spend that time feeding residents; they could spend time helping them to walk, and toilet."

Bergstrom says that if a facility wants to change its protocols, nurse leaders need to be prepared for staff members' reluctance to change; it's tough to break a 50-year-old habit. And in making the change, facilities need to do it carefully. (See her steps for doing so, below).

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