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Scanner targeting pressure ulcers to be rolled out across community hospitals

Successful trial in early pressure ulcers detection leads to new Virgin Care initiative

A hand-held scanner which has helped to eliminate pressure ulcers on two wards at a Surrey hospital is to be rolled out across NHS community hospitals where Virgin Care operates.

In a six-month trial conducted at Farnham Community Hospital, where Virgin Care provides services to NHS patients, the scanner allowed clinicians to identify pressure ulcers in patients when they were admitted. This enabled nurses to identify the damage earlier and reverse it with timely and targeted care. The procedure reduced pressure ulcers from a prevalence of 95% to almost zero.

Pressure ulcers are estimated to cost the NHS 2 billion a year, or 4% of its overall spend. There are 500,000 pressure ulcers cases in the UK each year and an estimated 18-25% of patients in acute care and long-term care settings have pressure ulcers, particularly older patients and those with limited mobility.

The scanner assesses changes

A hand-held scanner which has helped to eliminate pressure ulcers on two wards at a Surrey hospital is to be rolled out across NHS community hospitals where Virgin Care operates.

In a six-month trial conducted at Farnham Community Hospital, where Virgin Care provides services to NHS patients, the scanner allowed clinicians to identify pressure ulcers in patients when they were admitted. This enabled nurses to identify the damage earlier and reverse it with timely and targeted care. The procedure reduced pressure ulcers from a prevalence of 95% to almost zero.

Pressure ulcers are estimated to cost the NHS £2 billion a year, or 4% of its overall spend. There are 500,000 pressure ulcers cases in the UK each year and an estimated 18-25% of patients in acute care and long-term care settings have pressure ulcers, particularly older patients and those with limited mobility.

The scanner assesses changes in subepidermal moisture associated with damaged skin. It indicates tissue damage three to ten days before ulceration or visual signs of skin damage. It is non-invasive and portable and needs minimal technical skills for operation – most nurses who tested the scanner were able to properly operate it with only ten minutes of training.

Virgin Care will now use ten of the hand-held scanners, made by Bruin Biometric, for detection of early-stage pressure ulcers in the first of a multi-stage initiative that could see up to 100 scanners used to help eliminate pressure ulcers in up to 230 NHS community hospitals that Virgin Care provides services for across England.

Nurse Kirsty Thurlby, who was involved in the pilot programme, said: ‘The scanner, by providing evidence of early pressure ulcer damage and engaging patients and their families, helps our hospital teams protect patients and their loved ones from the potentially life-threatening repercussions of pressure ulcers.'

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