—To assess the effectiveness of low-air-loss beds for the treatment of pressure ulcers in nursing homes.
—Prospective, randomized, clinical trial.
—Three teaching nursing homes in Los Angeles, Calif.
—Eighty-four nursing home residents with trunk or trochanter pressure ulcers (Shea stage ≥2).
—Subjects were randomly assigned to use either a low-air-loss bed (n=43) or a 10-cm corrugated foam mattress (n=41) throughout the healing of their ulcers.
—Ulcers were assessed twice weekly using surface area and two observational scales (median follow-up, 37.5 days; range, 4 to 571 days).
—Groups were similar with respect to demographics, medical variables, wound care, and early dropouts. Results indicate more than a threefold improvement in median rate of healing for low-air-loss beds compared with foam mattresses (9.0 vs 2.5 mm2/d; P=.0002). This finding was true for deep as well as superficial ulcers (deep ulcers, 9.9 vs 0.7 mm2/d; P=.02; superficial ulcers, 9.0 vs 3.2 mm2/d; P=.004). Cox regression models revealed that the bed, ulcer depth, and fecal continence had independent effects on healing. After controlling for fecal continence, the deep and superficial subgroups using low-air-loss beds remained 2.5 times more likely to heal in a given length of time compared with those using foam mattresses (combined cure probability ratio, 2.66; 95% confidence interval, 1.34 to 5.17; P<.004).
—Low-air-loss beds provide substantial improvement compared with foam mattresses despite other factors in pressure ulcer healing.(JAMA. 1993;269:494-497)