Cameras focus on home care
DISTRICT nurses are to be armed with 3D cameras as part of a fresh battle against a potentially killer condition.
They will take pictures of their patients' bed sores as they treat them in their own homes across North Staffordshire.
Then the snaps will be relayed back to specialists who will recommend on the telephone the best way of keeping the ulcers in check.
Experts say patients are more vulnerable to the sores when at home than in hospitals where nurses are on hand to continually turn them and prevent the skin being damaged.
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But the new pictures will show exactly how far the ulcer has penetrated the victim's flesh as well as the area it covers to give the specialists – called tissue viability nurses – the best chance of curing it.
The scheme is already being piloted as part of a new zero tolerance crackdown on avoidable cases of the illness by the NHS trust, which runs community care in the county.
The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust, which also runs North Staffordshire's five community hospitals, estimates treating the menace costs millions of pounds a year.
And new figures show that in September alone, 62 mainly elderly people developed pressure ulcers while under the Partnership's care.
The sores are caused by patients staying immobile for long periods and in the worst cases can cause amputation or even sudden death if a blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs.
The trust is also considering drafting in a specialist company based at Oxford University, which has already used new technologies to slash the incidence of ulcers in other parts if the country.
Trust nursing director Siobhan Heafield said: "People develop these ulcers for all sorts of reasons – and they can occur with frightening speed after being immobile for just a short period.
"Some patients do not adhere to advice given to avoid them and it is clearly easier for nurses to keep an eye on them in a hospital setting.
"But out in the community they are more isolated and at risk of developing an ulcer.
"With these cameras district nurses can almost have the tissue viability expert in the room with them to help the treatment.
"In complex cases it takes a nurse two hours to change the dressing on a single patient.
She added: "So it is easy to see where savings in both pain and resources can be achieved if more can be cleared up early."
Chief executive Stuart Poynor added: "I am particularly pleased as the idea was demonstrated at a conference attended by one of our nurses who then brought it back to the trust."