News & Events
U.S. Linen Manufacturer Thinks It Has Achieved a Bedsore Breakthrough
- Posted by: curtislegalwp
- Category: pressure sores
The conventional thinking about bedsores is that they are a preventable symptom of negligence in hospitals and nursing homes. Patients who are unable to move freely themselves spend long hours prone on their beds. The pressure from their bodies against sheets which remain unchanged leads to bedsores. Bedsores are a leading cause of pain and suffering in the elderly and hospital patients and are a significant factor in preventable fatalities as bedsores that are untreated can lead to severe skin and bone infections.
Bedsores do not just occur in the U.K. They are a worldwide phenomenon. In the United States, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal health agency, has estimated that bedsores cost the nation over 11 billion dollars (8.8 billion pounds) in health care bills annually.
Now, a U.S. linen manufacturer has more or less stumbled on a bed sheet material that appears to reduce the incidence of bedsores by 65 to 80%. While this isn’t going to have any direct effect on the amount of care given by hospitals and nursing homes, it may certainly help to reduce suffering amongst patients if the research results are translated into widespread use by the institutions where most bedsores are likely to be a problem.
The fabric that has been created is called Derma Therapy and the idea is that it is designed to protect the skin of the person lying on it from the mattress, rather than the other way around.
The health company that discovered the material is called Precision Fabrics. James Barry, its business manager, says that up to now bedsores were thought to be caused by the pressure of the body on the mattress, hence the alternative name for bedsores, “pressure sores”. The research that the company has been doing seems to indicate that bedsores are more likely to form because of the interaction between the skin and the material that the skin is lying on. What seems to happen, according to Barry, is that the types of materials commonly used by nursing homes and hospitals are cottons and poly cottons, which do not allow moisture to dissipate. When the patient’s skin lies in the same place for any length of time on this type of material, moisture builds up and there is a corresponding increase in friction with the fabric, the fibres of which become abrasive overt time.
The newly developed material appears to wick away the moisture more successfully, helping to reduce friction and so reducing the incidence of bedsores.
Clinical trials have been carried out in the U.S. with the Derma Therapy fabric used as bed sheets and the results indicate a 65% to 80% reduction in bedsores – sufficiently significant for the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to authorise the material to be used as a “medical device”.
The Derma Therapy material has carbon channels incorporated into it and has antimicrobial properties which the manufacturers could reduce the incidence of bacterial infections. There have not been any clinical trials into this as yet, so the FDA has not given any authorisation to market the material’s ability to reduce infection.
The discovery is a bit of a coincidence because initially the material was designed to reduce discomfort felt by menopausal women when they had hot flushes at night. The discovery that bedsores could also be reduced was a by product of the initial research.
The only drawback with the material being used on bed sheets in public institutions might be the cost. A normal size single Derma Therapy bed sheet sold direct to the consumer is retailing for around 80 pounds plus. This is somewhat more than the average cost of a NHS hospital bed sheet! No doubt the cost would come down in time if the sheets were mass produced.
Despite what appears to be a promising new development, it doesn’t excuse lazy practices in hospitals and nursing homes where most bedsores occur. Bedsores are entirely avoidable, whatever the material of bed sheet used. All it takes is more careful monitoring and movement of the body more regularly so that the sores are less likely to develop.
If you believe you or one of the members of your family has painful pressure sores as a result of poor hospital care, you should arrange a consultation with a lawyer at Curtis Legal who can decide if you are entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you have needlessly endured.