Posted January 12, 2023
  • | Patient Outcomes
  • | Pressure Injury Prevention

The Tripledemic and Pressure Injuries Combine, Creating Challenges for Clinicians

The ED braces for a barrage of COVID, RSV and flu patients while WOCNs brace for an uptick in pressure injuries.

As if it wasn’t challenging enough to be a clinician in the Emergency Department, hospitals across the country are bracing for what some have termed a ‘tripledemic’ of seasonal illnesses. An upswing in COVID cases coupled with seasonal flu and a resurgence of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) has maxed the capacities of the ED. And, like a recurring nightmare, wound care nurses and skin champions are again facing the uphill battle of preventing pressure injuries in the midst of life-saving measures. 

The problem with multiple illnesses surging at once, besides the obvious patient toll, is that all other medical issues don’t just stop in the interim. Traumas still happen, chronic conditions still need attention and pressure injury formation doesn’t wait in line behind respiratory infections. 

Protecting the skin is undoubtedly a balancing act under these conditions, but it is not impossible. Prevention is the best defense against the formation of pressure injuries. Stop them before they start. 

Hospitals get creative when emergency departments reach and exceed capacity and bed space becomes scarce. Caring for patients in hallways or temporary tents is still care, though not ideal. And gurneys often moonlight as patient beds in the absence of space. 

What can clinicians do to prevent pressure injuries in these circumstances? 

Non-powered reactive air support surfaces designed for pressure injury prevention that fit on stretchers and comfortably accompany patients in tents or hallways are a great place to start. A shortage of beds doesn’t have to mean a gap in skin care, particularly in patients most vulnerable to skin breakdown. Preventing a surge in hospital-acquired pressure injuries is still possible, even in the midst of multiple barriers.

Getting hit with three respiratory illnesses at once is complicated, but protecting the skin isn’t. Click here to learn more about support surfaces and cushions that can protect patients from entry to exit.