Hospital Acquired Pressure Ulcers (HAPUs) remain a challenge and, despite intensive and varied practices for predicting and preventing pressure ulcers (PU), diagnosis is typically based upon subjective visual skin assessment (VSA). Unfortunately, such qualitative methods can be unreliable and may delay both the diagnosis and implementation of preventative measures.
Sub-Epidermal Moisture (SEM)
Advanced near-patient diagnostic techniques exploit the discovery that increasing levels of SEM may be indicative of tissue inflammation, oedema and impending PU.1, 2
As a measurable biophysical marker, even small differences in SEM within adjacent anatomical locations can be quantified, compared and recorded over time, using non-invasive technology. The results alert clinicians to nascent tissue damage, often before redness (erythema) is visible; this enables the timely deployment of preventative interventions.1, 3
SEM levels are measured during routine skin inspection using a hand-held scanner device. Multiple readings are taken over high-risk anatomical locations (target) and the adjacent skin (control) (fig. 2). If the difference in sub-epidermal moisture levels (SEM Δ ) are ≥0.6 a positive result is recorded, suggestive of imminent tissue damage. If a second positive reading is obtained within 48 hours, a diagnosis of Category 1 PU3 is confirmed.
To compare the clinical utility of using a SEM scanning device versus subjective visual skin inspection in the early detection of Category 1 PU.3
- To observe whether SEM data triggers the allocation of preventative interventions
- To compare the rate of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPU) before and during the SEM scanner evaluation