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CARY, Ill. -- In a recent nursing opinion poll, 84 percent of the 191 wound ostomy continence nurses who responded said nurses and technicians did not fully comply with incontinence skin care protocols. The poll was conducted at the Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse Societys annual meeting in June by Sage Products Inc.
Incontinence skin care is critical to preventing skin breakdown which increases the risk for pressure ulcers, a preventable and costly condition, said Kathleen Vollman, MSN, RN, clinical nurse specialist and a speaker at the conference. Pressure ulcers increase patients length of stay in the hospital and can increase morbidity and mortality.
Advance Wound Care reports that patients with fecal incontinence are 22 times more likely to develop pressure ulcers than those without the condition. Pressure ulcers can be very painful for patients and difficult to treat.
Pressure ulcers also are extremely expensive to treat. According to research in Advance Skin & Wound Care, one complex, full-thickness pressure ulcer can cost as much as $70,000 to heal. Less serious ulcers may range from $2,000 to $30,000. A study in Ostomy/Wound Management stated that the average hospital spends $400,000 to $700,000 annually just treating pressure ulcersand most of this cost cannot be reimbursed.
Although 91 percent responded that their incontinence skin care protocol includes the preventative use of skin protectants, nurses cited several reasons why their staff is not fully compliant with hospital protocol:
-- Protective barrier creams are not readily available at the bedside
-- Process variation, as everyone thinks his or her way is better
-- Shortage of staff, time constraints and employee turnover
-- Lack of education about basic skin care and preventing skin breakdown
The opinion poll also revealed that clinicians see skin breakdown occur most often on the sacrum, perineum, coccyx/buttocks (75 percent) and heels (21 percent). Other areas on the body that also were mentioned include skin folds and hips.
Nurses at WOCN clearly wanted to learn every facet of preventing pressure ulcers in incontinent patients. The next step is for hospitals to focus on development of incontinence care protocols that are evidence based & easy to follow and rigorous education of staff on proper perineal skin care of patients who suffer from urinary or fecal incontinence said JoAnn Ermer-Seltun, MSN, RN, ARNP, CWOCN and a speaker at the conference. Ermer-Seltun is the primary provider for the Mercy Wound Clinic and Continence Clinic at the Womens Health Center at Mercy Medical Center in Mason City, Iowa.
Sage Products, Inc. is a developer and manufacturer of innovative healthcare products used by medical professionals and consumers. Sages product lines include systems for bathing, incontinence care, shampoo, oral care, gowns, isolation cabinets, and gloves.
Source: Sage Products, Inc.