Preventing a common health issue patients are at risk of developing in the hospital

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) – Every year, in the United States alone, more than two million people develop bedsores, also known as pressure sores while bedridden in a hospital.

Complications of bedsores or pressure ulcers kill about 60,000 people every year in the U.S.

“That’s a football stadium’s worth of people that are acquiring an illness when they are in a hospital trying to recover from something else,” said Dr. Rafael Squitieri.

Constant pressure and weakened blood flow, damage the skin of bedridden patients. That can lead to tough to treat infections.

“We know healthy patients,” said Dr. Squitieri. “They move themselves regularly but when you are sick and in bed, you don’t move at all. And that’s when the pressure builds up and that constant pressure occludes the blood flow and that’s when the skin breaks down.”

The Connecticut heart surgeon says best safety practices and well-designed hospital beds are not making a huge impact.

So he came up with a novel approach – targeting the lower back area.

“This center box is really the critical area where pressure ulcers develop,” he says.

TurnCare is an inflatable device keeping the person in bed, basically afloat.

“This device is designed in a three dimensional fashion so to spread out the pressure evenly and then to move it around to restore blood flow to all these various areas,” said Dr. Squitieri.

Dr. Squitieri says study results at St. Vincent’s Medical Center showed those who used it were five times less likely to get a pressure sore and were likely to reduce their hospital stay.

“These pressure ulcers really are the death of the skin over that part of the body and that part heals, very, very slowly,” he says.

“It’s a gentle casual massage, alternating as needed, based on what your body is telling the machine,” said Veteran nurse turned patient Linda Seaman.

She relied on this high-tech tool after being admitted for a life-threatening condition.

“Just some redness and that happens very quickly, just from being immobile because I was so critically ill. I had less pain and my skin within 24 hours immediately looked better. The redness started going away,” said Seaman.

Key to its success, says Dr. Squitieri, identifying the high-risk patient early on.

People of all ages are at risk for pressure sores.

Among the most vulnerable are older adults.

For more information, click here.

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