Low-Air-Loss Therapy Bed Use
Low-air-loss therapy beds, composed of segmented cushions that provide surface area for pressure relief, help prevent and treat skin breakdown as well as minimize pain. These beds are indicated for patients with skin grafts and surgical flaps, pressure ulcers, edema, and malnutrition as well as for oncology, orthopedic, and transplant patients. Studies have also shown that low-air-loss beds are effective in preventing pressure ulcers in obese patients.1
The segmented air cushions, covered by a low-friction fabric, inflate and rest on a bed frame (similar to a standard bed frame), reducing pressure on skin surfaces and diminishing shearing forces when repositioning the patient.
Note: A maximum-inflate feature allows the entire surface to become firm for patient repositioning. The system is also capable of deflating quickly in emergencies.
As with a standard bed frame, the head and foot of the bed can be adjusted. Low-air-loss therapy beds circulate cool air, which helps to evaporate moisture and reduce temperature, thereby reducing excess skin moisture and preventing maceration. (See Low-air-loss therapy bed.)
Some models are equipped with pulsation or rotational capability. Pulsation promotes circulation, which improves healing; the rotational capability makes turning easier, helping to mobilize secretions and prevent pulmonary complications. Larger beds are available for patients who weigh more than 300 lb (136 kg). Pressure zones may also be adjusted, and adjustable lumbar supports are available in some models.
A low-air-loss therapy bed is contraindicated for patients with an unstable cervical, thoracic, or lumbar fracture. Patients with uncontrolled diarrhea, hemodynamic instability, severe agitation, or uncontrolled claustrophobia may not benefit from this bed.
Low-air-loss therapy bed ▪ turning sheet ▪ Optional: gloves.
Preparation of Equipment
The manufacturer’s representative or a trained staff member usually prepares the bed for use. The unit is plugged in and turned on to inflate the bed. Make sure the bed inflates properly and the equipment is in working order. The settings are adjusted as appropriate (such as degrees of rotation). Fully inflate until the patient is moved onto it.
Confirm the patient’s identity using at least two patient identifiers according to your facility’s policy.5
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