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AHH study leads to reduction in heel ulcers

News Release 



December 9, 2006                               Contact:           Victoria Tedeschi

Public Relations Specialist

Adventist Midwest Health



AHH study leads to

reduction in heel ulcers

 Hinsdale, IL – When nurses in the critical care and surgical units at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital found that facility-acquired heel ulcers were unusually high, they decided to tackle the problem. Their efforts led to a 26 percent decrease in facility-acquired heel sores.

Nationally heel ulcers account for 30 percent of total pressure ulcers, said Debbie Waggoner, R.N., B.S.N., however, at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital heel ulcers were at 43 percent. These sores develop when patients place pressure on their feet while in bed during a hospital stay, said Waggoner, a nurse who specializes in treating skin disorders.

Staff worked to determine a solution to the problem. A two-year review was conducted of patients’ charts to determine patients most at risk. They found that patients with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, cerebral vascular disease, hemiparesis, hip fractures and total knee replacements were more prone to heel ulcers.

During a 10-day period, nursing staff tested two different boot products and assessed patients’ heels during each shift, Waggoner said. The study found that more frequent assessments combined with use of a special boot lessened the number of heel ulcers.

As a result, facility-acquired heel ulcers decreased to 17 percent, which is based on a November 2006 hospital-wide assessment, said Joy Speciale, R.N., M.B.A., C.C.R.N., nurse manager of the Cardiovascular Critical Care Units. “This is an excellent example of how staff were able to come together to create a solution to a problem,” she said. “Our nurses were able to identify patients at risk and implement prevention strategies thereby improving quality of care for our patients.”

“Keeping Heels Intact,” a poster created from their study project, received first place at the Third Annual Nursing Research Symposium in November 2006. The documentation was also presented at the American Association of Critical Nurses Midwest Conference in March 2006 and at the Wound Ostomy & Continence Advanced Care Symposium, June 2006 in San Antonio, Texas.  The study will be published in the March edition of  “Journal of Ostomy Wound Continence Nursing.”

The primary team included Jill Walsh, R.N., M.S., Malou DeOcampo, R.N., B.S.N., W.O.C.N., Donna Plonzynski, R.N., A.P.N., Ph.D., and Waggoner.