iWOC Nursing Foundation Transforming Healthcare, One Person At A Time.

Bed Surfaces

For patients with a pressure ulcer or at-risk for pressure ulcer, a pressure redistributing bed surface is recommended.   Many foam based beds now offer some level of pressure redistribution.  However, it is recommend that you check with your individual bed vendor for specifics. 

Pressure redistribution bed surfaces are an adjunct therapy.  Even when a specialty bed is in use, frequent repositioning is crucial to redistribute the patient’s weight away from high pressure areas.  Patients with a pressure ulcer or those who are at risk for pressure ulcer formation should be repositioned every 1-2 hours regardless of the surface they are on. 

Low Air Loss Beds

Low air loss beds, also referred to as air mattresses, offer a higher level of pressure redistribution.  These beds can have either static air or dynamic (air that moves the patient).  CMS requires that patients meet specific criteria for a low air bed in the post acute setting.

Consider a low air loss bed surface for the following patients:

  • The patient has a risk assessment (Braden) score of 12 or less, which signifies a high risk patient.

  • Repositioning is complicated by contractures, extensive skin breakdown, or excessive weight.

  • There are wounds on 2 or more turning surfaces of the TRUNK.

  • There are Stage III, Stage IV, Suspected Deep Tissue Injury, or Unstageable wounds of the TRUNK.

  • The patient has contractures that complicate repositioning.

  • The patient has multiple Stage II wounds on bony prominences.

  • The patient is a paraplegic or quadriplegic and is not able to be repositioned.

  • The patient’s yeast rashes are severe enough to result in skin breakdown.

  • Patients is obese (Bariatric Bed Surfaces).

For all low air loss or air fluidized beds it is imperative to allow air to circulate under the patient. This circulating air decreases moisture on the skin and assists with maintaining skin integrity. The use of heavy linens is contraindicated on these surfaces because they can impede this air circulation.

An appropriate, fluid-wicking air flow pad, should be used on low air loss and air fluidized bed surfaces.  A flat sheet may be used when heavy soiling is expected.

Specialty Bed Resources