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Sylvia Hampton
British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 8, Iss. 15, 12 Aug 1999, pp 990 - 996

Use of air mattresses in reduction of pressure sore incidence is an important part of quality patient care. However, there will never be enough air mattresses to match the demand as increased education and an increase in the general provision of air mattresses can lead to an unrealistic expectation of obtaining air mattresses when required for patients. This raises the demand for air mattresses and increases costs within hospital trusts. This study examined a way to redress the balance through use of an alternative, cost-effective type of mattress (thermoelastic polymer) in the prevention of pressure sores. Prime consideration was given to the comfort of the patient. The claims of the manufacturers, Barrington Healthcare, that ‘patients with Waterlow scores of 23 can be nursed safely on this product’ were explored as part of the study. A total of 407 patients took part over a 6-month period. Twenty-four Thermo contour mattresses were loaned to one ward for the study and patients were allocated to the mattress through admission to the experimental ward. Patients were then split into two groups on two wards. Group B were allocated to a Thermo contour mattress and group A were nursed on air mattresses and foam mattresses generally used throughout the trust. Results showed that more patients were comfortable on the Thermo contour mattresses than on all other mattresses. Patients with Waterlow scores under 25 did not develop pressure sores on the Thermo contour mattress. However, the sample of patients with a Waterlow score of between 20 and 25 was small and therefore further research is required.

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