Preventing Pressure Injuries in the Perioperative Setting
There was an alarming 48% decrease in surgeries when the country first shut down in March of 2020, that phase only lasted seven weeks. Seven weeks.
A lot has been written, reported, tweeted, and posted about COVID-19, and one common thread has been the drastic decrease and near cessation of all surgical procedures. It’s been implied over the last 2+ years, that all surgeries that weren’t immediately life threatening — deemed ‘elective surgeries’ — had come to a screeching halt with the onset of the pandemic. But was that really the case?
A recent study reviewed the trends and found that while there was an alarming 48% decrease in surgeries when the country first shut down in March of 2020, that phase only lasted seven weeks. Seven weeks. After the initial shock and awe of COVID-19, healthcare facilities and workers did what they do best, they figured it out. Following the deep dive, the study found that surgical procedures returned to baseline with record speed and quickly exceeded the pre-pandemic rates. With the OR back on track, it was good news for those requiring surgery, but what did that mean for their skin? According to the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN), all surgical patients are at risk for pressure injuries.
It’s been well documented that pressure injuries could begin in as little as two hours. And while surgical timeframes have become more accurate as more procedures are performed, they are, nonetheless, still estimates. Surgeries can last anywhere from an hour to well over 12 hours.
That’s a major concern for patients’ skin. Long periods of immobility necessary for successful surgeries can also pave the way for pressure injury formation. Studies have indicated that pressure injuries resulting from surgery could be as high as 66%. Preventing skin breakdown in the OR is a continuous challenge. So, what is the best plan of action? Pressure redistribution and proper patient positioning before, during, and after surgery!
The AORN’s position statement on perioperative pressure injury prevention states that prevention should begin before an individual enters the surgical suite. Because of this, choosing a surface that best reduces, relieves, and redistributes pressure is critical. Patients need surfaces that provide good immersion and envelopment. But it doesn’t have to end at the OR door. Depending on the surgery, pressure redistribution surfaces designed to fit right on the OR table offer protection through lengthy procedures. And versatile cushions have been proven to safely and strategically help position patients pursuant to their surgery. To round out the experience, the same support surfaces that reduced and redistributed pressure prior to surgery can and should be used during postoperative care.
The OR staff’s innate ability to bounce back after such trying times exemplifies their resilience and adaptability. But they can only do so much. Support surfaces and cushions that can help protect the patient’s skin before, during, and after lengthy surgeries have helped shoulder some of that burden. Click here to further explore pressure injury prevention products ideal for surgical patients. Unlock the power of prevention!