Wireless wearable sensor prevents hospital bed sores

Lourdes says high-tech device helped cut rate 75%
CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- A local hospital is using a new tool to prevent pressure ulcers.

They're commonly called bed sores, and they can lead to fatal complications.

Healthcare experts believe there are 60,000 deaths in the U.S. each year due to bed sore complications.

Preventing them can be difficult, however, a simple reminder system could make a big difference.

Nurses know that to prevent pressure ulcers, patients who can't move on their own, should be repositioned, or turned every 2 hours.

But with multiple patients to care for, staff can lose track of time.

"Frankly we were struggling with this issue," says Maria Brennan, D.N.P., R.N., the chief nursing officer of Lourdes Health.

Lourdes tried a number of tactics, until it found Leaf, a system that tracks and times a patient's motion.

A sensor weighing less than an ounce placed on the patient's chest monitors their movement and position.

Leaf sends signals to a transmitter in the room, to a screen at the nursing station, and to each nurse's computer.

"The clock starts at the turn, and then it counts down for the nurse, and gives the nurse reminders," Brennan says.

The countdown clock is green at the start, yellow when 15 minutes are left, and red when turning is overdue.

The screen also tells nurses which side patients are on, or if there's a position they shouldn't be put in.

The sensor registers independent patient movement and automatically adjusts the schedule if the patient repositions on their own.

Lourdes says Leaf has cut pressure ulcers by 75-percent.

"In 2016, we had 60 hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. In 2017, we reduced that to 19," she notes.

That's a bigger reduction than that seen at some other hospitals using Leaf monitors, including Stanford University Medical Center.

The disposable sensor uses the same adhesive as EKG sensors, so it is gentle on frail skin.

Lourdes acquired Leaf through a $382,000 grant from Trinity Health, its parent organization.

The system is being used at some other medical centers, but is fairly new.

For more information on Leaf monitoring system, click here.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.