Lincolnshire hospital’s project receives international acclaim

An innovative tool developed in Lincolnshire’s hospitals to help reduce the number of pressure ulcers in patients has attracted international interest.

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An innovative tool developed in Lincolnshire’s hospitals to help reduce the number of pressure ulcers in patients has attracted international interest.

PUNT (Pressure Ulcer Notification Tool), a unique online system that allows staff to record, monitor, report and review reliable pressure ulcer data for hospital patients, is being adopted by US company Bruin Biometrics.

Based in California, Bruin Biometrics (BBI) is a developer of innovative sensor-based diagnostic
equipment. The company has developed a hand-held, portable device that detects early signs of pressure damage, including pressure ulcers and deep tissue injuries, before visual skin damage or pressure ulcer formation can be seen on or within a patient’s skin. They will use the PUNT tool in line with these devices to report and review reliable pressure ulcer data.

Pressure ulcers are a type of injury that affects areas of the skin and underlying tissue. They are caused when the affected area of skin is placed under too much pressure for a prolonged period of time, in combination with a number of other factors, so are more likely in patients in hospital beds.

Due to the type of patients we treat, it is difficult to completely eliminate pressure ulcers, but good nursing care, combined with reliable data and great technology helps us to avoid skin damage where possible.

Pressure ulcers can range in severity from patches of discoloured skin to open wounds that expose the underlying bone or muscle. They affect patients health, can result in pain and lead to longer hospital stays.

With an ever increasing ageing population the incidences of pressure ulcers is set to increase worldwide. However the combined rate of pressure ulcers across all four ULHT hospitals is less than one per cent. Reducing incidences of pressure ulcers helps to free up NHS resources to allow staff to manage other important identified care needs of the Lincolnshire population.

The tool has been developed with support from the Trust’s information communication technology team, who work closely with clinicians to develop tools to dramatically improve the lives of our patients.

Mark Collier, nurse consultant in tissue viability for ULHT, said: “I presented a paper on PUNT at the European Wound Management Association Conference in Madrid and was approached directly by BBI to find out more about the tool and how it worked.

“Since then we have worked closely with BBI to licence the tool to their company so they can it with their scanners, so that both skin assessment and pressure damage readings can be stored and retrieved from a live database.”

Tanweer Ahmed, Director of Lincolnshire Clinical Research Facility and Trust Intellectual Property Lead at ULHT, said: “We are excited to enter into this license agreement with BBI which demonstrates the Trust’s recognition and protection of our patients against avoidable pressure ulcers. This agreement further confirms that the Trust’s dedicated staff have the ability to develop world class innovative products to improve patient care.”

Michelle Rhodes, Director of Nursing for ULHT, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for our Trust. The fact PUNT is receiving international acclaim is a true testament to the hard work of Mark and our IT team to develop a tool which is helping to massively reduce the incidences of pressure ulcers for our patients.”

Martin Burns, Chief Executive of BBI, said: “Our mission is to reduce pressure ulcer incidence.  The combination of the scanner to detect early stage pressure ulcers and then PUNT to manage all pressure ulcers from point of first development to discharge from care is a breakthrough.  So now, for the first time ever, wound care data for patients will be evidence-based and transferable between care settings.”

First developed in 2004, PUNT has allowed ULHT to objectively report a decrease in the occurrences of all categories of pressure ulcers, especially since its further redevelopment in 2011.

The Trust is committed to eradicating all avoidable pressure ulcers. As a result the Trust has reduced the incidence of pressure ulcers by nearly 40% to 0.9%, compared with the national reported incidence rate of 4-6%.