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Made Easy: Medical device protection

Emma Cullen-Gil, Marco Romanelli
2 March 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased focus on the consequences of pressure and skin damage, through patients being in bed or immobile for extended periods of time, particularly when nursed in the prone position, or through use of medical devices such as face masks. In protecting patients from ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and VAP (ventilator-associated pneumonia), there is increased risk of medical device use causing pressure damage (also referred to as pressure ulcers [PUs] or pressure injury [PI]) and leading to potential chronic wounds, particularly in intensive care patients and those suffering from additional complications.

The majority of literature around the prevention of pressure damage focuses on PUs occurring over bony prominences, typically on the sacrum and heels. However, there is less guidance around the problem of pressure damage related to the use of medical devices, which is becoming increasingly prevalent. There is a need for clinicians to recognise the risk and take steps to prevent skin damage, and to be informed about the correct placement and fixation of devices. There has also been a focus on the importance of skin protection for staff using personal protective equipment (PPE).

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