Support Surfaces

Laurie Swezey's picture

by Laurie Swezey RN, BSN, CWOCN, CWS, FACCWS

According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP, 2007), a support surface is “a specialized device for pressure redistribution designed for management of tissue loads, micro-climate, and/or other therapeutic functions (i.e. any mattresses, integrated bed system, mattress replacement, overlay, or seat cushion, or seat cushion overlay).” Because there is no method available to provide weightlessness for our patients, the next best thing we can do to prevent skin breakdown is to reduce pressure on bony prominences as much as humanly possible.

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Aletha Tippett MD's picture

by Aletha Tippett MD

I am often asked this common question: “how do you select the right mattress or support surface for a patient?” Despite the plethora of information on how to do this, I am going to give a very simple answer: lay on it yourself. It amazes me how few caregivers have ever lain on a bed that they prescribe for a patient. It always shocks me to visit a nursing home patient and sit beside them on their bed. The bed is hard as a rock. When I ask if their bed is comfortable, the answer is a resounding NO. I always think: would YOU want to lay on this bed, would you want YOUR GRANDMOTHER (or GRANDFATHER) to lay on this bed?

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