Ask ECRI: Alternating Pressure Mattresses to Limit Pressure Injury Risk

June 11, 2018 | Aging Services Risk Management


​A risk manager recently wrote to ECRI Institute seeking guidance on implementation of alternating pressure mattresses with low air loss as part of a pressure injury management program. In our response, we note that dynamic pressure relief surfaces, which include alternating-pressure and low-air-loss mattresses, are designed to provide true pressure relief by consistently reducing the interface pressure below the capillary closing pressure.

The use of such surfaces is discussed in the guideline for pressure injury prevention and treatment from the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, and Pan Pacific Pressure Injury Alliance. For pressure injury prevention, the guideline recommends that active support surfaces be used for individuals at high risk for pressure injuries who cannot be frequently manually repositioned. The guideline also offers recommendations regarding support surface selection for patients or residents with existing pressure injuries. For example, it states that surfaces that offer "enhanced pressure redistribution, shear reduction, and microclimate control" should be used for individuals with Category III, IV, and unstageable pressure injuries; it also recommends such surfaces for patients or residents with suspected deep tissue injury "if pressure over the area cannot be relieved by repositioning." For more information, see the quick reference guide,...

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