Over the past few weeks, we have considered the use of support surfaces in redistributing pressure and preventing the build-up of excessive pressure in vulnerable areas. We have looked at the different methods used for this purpose, and at the effectiveness of different support surface systems. However, we have not considered until now the safety of these systems, and the actions that must be taken by healthcare support workers to ensure their own safety and that of the patient.
Patient and personal safety is clearly the first priority of all healthcare workers. Staff must be trained in the correct use of support surfaces, from initial set up to maintenance and infection control. Many support surfaces are equipped with their own safety devices, and the correct use of the system is essential to ensure these safety features are not compromised.
Any surface that raises the patient or increases the distance between the resting surface and bed frame increases the risk of entrapment or falls. When possible, a support surface that minimizes height and gaps should be selected. Cross-contamination is another risk associated with the use of support surfaces, and it is therefore essential to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for proper cleaning and maintenance procedures.
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