Pressure injuries pose a significant cost to the Australian healthcare system, accounting for approximately $9.1 billion annually (Source: Pressure injuries in Australian public hospitals: A cost of illness study by Son Nghiem Et Al). These injuries are largely preventable yet remain the leading cause of Hospital Acquired Complications (HACs). They result in longer hospital stays, increased utilisation of resources, extended post-discharge care, diminished patient quality of life, and tragically, fatalities.
A pressure injury is defined as a 'localised injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear and/or friction.' Immobility, often accompanying illness, elevates the risk of pressure injuries. These injuries occur due to the pressure between the skin and a bony prominence, restricting blood flow to the skin tissue and causing tissue destruction and ulceration.
The most effective strategy for preventing pressure injuries is providing patient or resident care on a pressure-reducing surface, such as a mattress. Two primary types of pressure-reducing mattresses exist: Static and Dynamic Alternating mattresses.
Static mattresses envelop the patient's body, distributing pressure over a larger surface area. Comprising different-density foams, they provide stability with firmer central foam and softer, often castellated, outer layers to reduce friction. Patients on static surfaces should have low to moderate pressure injury risk and some mobility or regular repositioning.
For patients at a high risk of pressure injuries, dynamic mattresses are recommended. Dynamic mattresses, like static ones, distribute pressure and also offload pressure entirely. They consist of air cells that run across the mattress width, periodically deflating to allow blood flow back into the skin tissue. Cobalt Health's mattress range employs a 1:2 ratio, offloading 50% of the body at any given time, significantly reducing the risk of pressure injuries.
By addressing these crucial factors and adopting pressure injury prevention measures, healthcare providers can not only enhance patient safety but also significantly reduce healthcare costs associated with pressure injuries.