The day I fired pillows and wedges

Many moons ago when I was fairly new to nursing, I was assigned to care for a patient with stage 4 pressure injuries on three sides of her lower trunk and both heels.

I’ll never forget what the ER nurse said to me in report: “Brace yourself. Its bad”

What I learned from that patient would change the trajectory of my nursing career forever.

Armed with my pillows and wedges, I thought I knew exactly what to do. Just dress the wounds then get the pressure off. Simple. Right?

I might have been prepared for what I saw, but I was not prepared to help this patient.

She came up with like 6 pillows stuffed here and there. All flat as pancakes. No pressure relief from those pillows. Nada.

“I see what happened now” I thought to myself. “She got those pressure wounds because they couldn’t keep the pressure off”

It’s the pillows that are not doing their job, not the caregivers.

That was the day I fired pillows.

I thought to myself “There has got to be a better way to support a patient” I mean, they call them pressure injuries for a reason.

Pressure relief is the most important thing nurses have to do to prevent pressure injuries.

How is it that we keep using pillows over and over again when they do not relieve pressure?

I excused myself from the room to go find something else. I was thinking that because I work in a hospital that has all the latest and greatest, we should have a positioning cushion that actually works.

Surely if we can prevent heart attacks we can prevent pressure. Right?

Wrong ! I was quite shoked to find that the standard wedge cushion designs did not work either.

Standard positioning wedge cushions are built in a similar way; clunky, too hard, too steep, and grossly uncomfortable. They do not ‘fit’ the patient. They do push the person over too far over or slid away a few minutes after being placed. People shift off of them and right back onto their bedsore because they are uncomfortable.

Heel flotation devices fail quickly too. The thin boots don’t actually relieve pressure and the thick foam boots entangle, twist slip out of place and can even lead to pressure injury. The cushions designed to floating heels dangerously and painfully dangle the ankles and cannot be used then the patient is turned. They can actually cause foot drop.

So I had to fire all those old clunky positioning wedges and heel floaters too.

But I couldn’t leave us empty handed. Before I could get rid of the poorly designed wedges and heel floaters, I had to figure out how to make them right. I had to design offloading cushion’s that honestly work to get the pressure off and keep it off.

So, with a fish knife to cut foam and a sewing machine in the back room of my house I set out to design the best pressure relief support cushions on the market.

Here are the results.

If you would like to be a part of our mission to stop pressure injuries, or you could really use our help to stop them yourself, watch our training video’s, download our “Ultimate guide to How to Stop Bedsores” or, believe it or not , you can actually call and talk to a nurse at 650.294.8557

Thank you for all the good work you do.

Together we CAN stop bedsores.

Gwen Jewell, Clinical Nurse II, BSN, CWS
Founder and Pressure Injury Preventionist
Jewell Nursing Solutions

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