Princess Alexandra Hospital one of top trusts for reducing pressure ulcers

Health / Wed 14th Nov 2018 at 12:18pm

SPECIALLY trained health workers, Agents for Nutrition and Tissue Viability (ANTs) have helped to change a key aspect of hospital care, which has put the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust among top trusts for reducing pressure ulcers (bed sores) for patients staying at the hospital.

For any patient in hospital, bed sores are a major concern as they can cause pain, slow recovery and can lead to further complications when patients return home.

The trust works hard to raise awareness of the condition to reduce incidence in the population, and this week it is joining hospitals across the country and globe in observing Worldwide Pressure Ulcer Prevention Day on 15 November.

A pressure ulcer is an area of damage to the skin and underlying tissue that is caused by unrelieved pressure or friction. Severe ulcers are susceptible to infection and may even be life-threatening. At least 20,000 patients are in UK hospitals at any one time with pressure ulcers.

Data is key to tackling the condition, so ANTs attached to the Critical Care Unit (CCU) developed a programme to ensure that all risks are monitored. This particularly focuses on pressure ulcers related to medical devices such as oxygen masks and feeding tubes. The ANTs developed procedures which ensure skin is properly checked underneath these devices, enabling them to see any problem areas and therefore prevent any damage. This change has resulted in a reduction in the number of pressure ulcers, with CCU not having a pressure ulcer incidence for over a year.

An additional risk factor for bed sores is diet, and that is where the ANTs have been crucial. The Trust now has a dedicated team of 188 ANTs, who have received extra training to provide them with increased knowledge, skills and awareness when caring for patients at risk operating throughout the hospital.

Teams in two wards at the trust were determined to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers, and a programme of work combined with determined leadership, have led to outstanding results: one ward has had no avoidable pressure ulcers for more than 500 days, while another ward has recorded 880 days. Recognition for both teams came in the form of the trust’s Golden Tissue Viability awards.

Sharon McNally, Director of Nursing and midwifery at PAHT, said: “Our interventions have improved safety and prevented serious harm to hundreds of patients, and our tissue viability service has earned praise from the hospital regulators. Well done to all our TV service.”

The teams’ success has attracted the attention of other partner trusts. Staff from Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, were among those who have made fact-finding visits to Princess Alexandra Hospital to gain an insight into the trust’s methods.

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