University of Chicago Medicine Receives 3M Award for Decreasing Preventable Skin Injuries


3M and the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN®) announce the University of Chicago Medicine’s successful “Countdown to Zero” skin integrity program has received the sixth annual 3M Award for Excellence in Skin Safety.

The program was honored for reducing the number of preventable skin injuries – including an 83 percent reduction in pressure injuries – within the academic medical center serving the South Side of Chicago.

Representatives of UChicago Medicine’s skin care team who were involved in the program accepted the award at the WOCN Society’s 49th annual conference in Salt Lake City on May 20.

The Countdown to Zero program began in 2014 after an analysis of nursing practices and available products was conducted to understand factors contributing to the system’s higher- than-average hospital-acquired pressure injury rate. A monthly auditing program was established to help lower the point prevalence of pressure injuries, incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD), intertriginous dermatitis (ITD) and friction injuries.

Pre-program analysis uncovered that some clinicians were unable to distinguish between certain types of skin injuries, which could lead to improper treatment. Therefore, clinician education became a cornerstone of the Countdown to Zero program. An intensive, yet accessible, education program was created offering learning opportunities about skin injuries in a variety of formats – new hire orientation, computer-based programs, formal 30-minute in-services and informal five-minute in-services conducted right at the bedside. Since the program’s implementation, the medical center has seen reductions in all targeted preventable skin injuries.

“Through our skin care team’s hard work, our preventable skin injury rates continue to improve year-over-year. In fact, we recently met our ultimate goal – recording zero instances of Stage 2 and above pressure injuries in all patients surveyed, which included critically ill adult and pediatric patients – which is incredible,” said Susan Solmos, MSN, RN, CWCN and leader of the Countdown to Zero program. “By prioritizing skin integrity education and continuous evaluation, we have been able to enhance our standard of care system-wide in a very tangible way for our patients.”

The award is made possible by a partnership between the WOCN Society and 3M, who together aim to recognize the most innovative and inspiring individuals or healthcare facilities that have implemented a program to improve patient skin integrity and skin health.

“UChicago Medicine, and its dedicated staff, are truly at the forefront of prioritizing, implementing and sustaining skin injury prevention,” stated Leslie McDonnell, vice president of global marketing at 3M. “It’s an honor each year to learn about and acknowledge outstanding facilities, like UChicago Medicine, that truly understand the importance of skin integrity in patient care.”

In order to win, the program must demonstrate measurable and sustained results that are achieved through prevention, senior leadership engagement, product formulary and interdisciplinary participation.

“Through this award program partnership with 3M, we’re frequently reminded of the exceedingly profound contributions made by nurses dedicated to pressure injury prevention, because it isn’t an easy task,” added Carolyn Watts, MSN, RN, CWON, president of the WOCN Society. “And we have no doubt that other medical facilities are making significant strides in prioritizing skin integrity as this year we received a record number of award submissions. UChicago Medicine stood out because of its exemplary fulfillment of each requirement, going above and beyond each year of the program, and we commend their team.”

For more information about the 3M Award for Excellence in Skin Safety, visit Here you can view inspiring video vignettes of previous award winning programs and learn more about how to enter next year’s competition.

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