A new wireless scanner may be able to detect pressure ulcers (commonly known as “bedsores”) earlier than current methods. The new technology was developed by Bruin Biometrics, a California company, and uses NASA technology. According to Bruin Biometrics, the new scanner can detect pressure ulcers up to four days earlier. Currently, pressure ulcers are mainly identified by visual inspection where nurses roll over patients and inspect their skin – a archaic and intrusive method.
Pressure ulcers are chronic wounds to a local area of skin and tissue, generally seen in patients that are bedridden or otherwise immobile. Pressure ulcers are a common, expensive, and frequently deadly medical condition. An estimated 11 percent of patients in “regulated care settings” (or, nursing homes) will develop pressure ulcers. In Ireland, pressure ulcers account for a full 4 percent of the country’s healthcare budget. Sadly, advanced pressure ulcers (stage three and stage four) can frequently be fatal and the number of fatalities caused by these ulcers is on the rise. Across the world, deaths attributable to pressure ulcers have increased almost 33 percent between 2000 and 2010.
The new scanner works by utilizing NASA technology and detects sub-epidermal moisture (below the surface of the skin), which is a physical marker that a pressure ulcer has begun to form underneath the skin. Rachel Lester of Bruin Biometrics states that, “The SEM Scanner is the first clinically-proven method for detecting unseen pressure ulcers and alerting healthcare practitioners in real time when they begin to form under the skin.”
If ulcers are detected earlier (before they are able to advance to stage two, stage three or stage four), then the damage is usually reversible. Proper medical and nursing intervention can allow for the skin and tissue to remain intact and heal. In addition to earlier detection, the new scanner will allow for a less intrusive scan. Unlike a visual inspection, which requires rolling the patient’s body over for an inspection, the scanner can be used without rearranging the patient. The widespread rollout of this new technology could significantly lower medical costs while also improving the quality of life for immobile patients, who will no longer need to be physically inspected by nurses.