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Supine position reduces pressure ulcers

November 21, 2014
supine position

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening condition characterized by a buildup of fluid in the lungs that makes the chest feel heavy and stiff and disrupts the flow of oxygen in the body. Regular treatments of purified oxygen via a facemask can help repair and force fluid out of the lungs.

This treatment is often conducted with patients sedated and in a prone position. The prone placement unfortunately results in a higher rate of development of pressure ulcers. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the North Cross Hospital in Lyon, France and published in the journal Intensive Care Medicine, placing patients in a supine position reduced the number of pressure ulcers with no change in survival rates.

Looking at patient positioning

According to the American Lung Association, 190,000 Americans develop ARDS annually, and up to 30 percent of all cases are fatal.

The researchers at North Cross Hospital examined the effects of different body positions on the outcomes of ARDS patients. The study incorporated 466 people admitted to North Cross Hospital with one group of 229 patients to be positioned supine, and the second group of 237 patients to rest prone. The rate of pressure ulcer formation was equivalent when the participants were initially randomized to their groups.

Researchers assessed patient conditions seven days after the study began, and again at discharge from the ICU. Findings indicated the prone group developed pressure ulcers 20.80 percent of the time and the supine group 13.92 percent of the time. Changes in patient positioning had no effect on patient outcomes.

Patients with mild cases of ARDS can be placed in the supine position to decrease the development of pressure ulcers. The findings also indicate that physicians should also take additional preventive measures when placing ARDS patients in the prone position. Patient positioners such as AliMed's AliGel Contoured Pads for the knees, Dome Positioners under the ankles and the AliGel Prone Headrest can reduce the time patients' bodies spend in contact with surfaces and reduce the overall number of pressure ulcers for people with ARDS.

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