Meeting the Challenges of Wound Care In a Special Patient Population

Discover how one hospital achieved success with Medela NPWT

To support quality outcomes for her patients, “Maria” started to evaluate options for wound care, including Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) systems. At the time, Maria was the Nurse Manager of the spinal cord injury unit at a 155-bed acute and subacute physical rehabilitation facility. Maria was knowledgeable and experienced to evaluate systems to support the healing process of wounds of her patients with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

She was aware that systems could be complex, temperamental, and inconsistent, so she wanted to choose the best option that fit the needs of the special patient population she cared for.

No further complications, please

“We’re teaching our patients how to transfer out of acute care rehabilitation without actually standing up and walking—fundamental human activities they are no longer capable of. We can’t accept anything that could distract from our purpose of delivering exceptional care.”

As a board-certified ostomy and continence nurse who has been at the facility for more than 21 years, Maria has a deep appreciation for how complicated the care of patients with spinal cord/TBI is. The majority of such patients at her facility have:

  • Complete or incomplete spinal cord injuries
  • No sensation at or below their level of injury
  • Issues with incontinence
  • Stage 4 pressure ulcers, with sacral decubitus or osteomyelitis

These patients are particularly vulnerable because their lives have been irrevocably transformed by traumatic injury. Their care is complicated. She felt that the NPWT system used to facilitate their wound healing shouldn’t complicate it any further.

Assessing New Pump Technologies

Maria seeks to achieve 3 priorities for her wound care patients:

  1. Preventing infection
  2. Ensuring easy and effective use of NPWT
  3. Attending to a patient’s holistic needs

Given these priorities—and the unique challenges of caring for spinal cord/TBI patients—it was critically important to not only have a NPWT system that was up to the task, but also one that was supported by deep clinical expertise and support from the manufacturer.

Over time, Maria recognized that the old NPWT system she and her team were using didn’t provide the complete package they needed. Their greatest frustrations were:

  • Temperamental – the machines often did not work properly and the dressings were in constant need of changing
  • Disruptive – alarms on the machines seemed to beep all the time
  • Under-supported – the clinical knowledge of the manufacturer’s support staff was suspect and there was no on-site support, just troubleshooting by phone

Maria decided to take action. She enlisted the support of her Director of Nursing. Together, they began the search for a better NPWT solution.

Medela Met Their Needs

“The Medela sales representative was so wonderful. She and I became very close. She would come every week during the trial and she was right there with us during the transition, providing anything we needed."

Maria's team solicited proposals from 3 different manufacturers. After carefully evaluating the proposals and conducting trials with the systems under consideration, the team selected Medela NPWT as their system of choice.

Two overarching areas of differentiation drove their decision:

  1. Benefits of the Medela system
  • Small and mobile – easy to secure on a wheelchair
  • Comfortable Fitpad and double lumen tubing – especially important for patients with wounds in sensitive areas
  • No intermittent noises – strange noises from NPWT pumps can be mistaken for gas, which may embarrass spinal cord/TBI patients who are incontinent
  • Low likelihood of alarms – allows therapy sessions to proceed without interruption
  1. Outstanding customer service and support
  • Continuous engagement—to this day—from an expert Medela clinical liasion and sales representative with the team
  • Provides hands-on training and support on-site during the trial
  • Medela also trains home care agencies to ensure proper usage of the NPWT system after patients were transferred out of the hospital

A Successful Transition

“The Medela NPWT system is hands-down an easier machine to use than the ones we had previously. I’m very, very satisfied with this product.”

The full engagement of the Medela team was instrumental in the success of the transition process. Maria credits their support for making the transition smoother than she expected, with simple, straightforward training on the user-friendly Invia® Liberty™ and Invia Motion®.

Her staff fell in love with the machines, which they have come to think of as “work horses” that “fix themselves” in those rare instances when an issue arises.

The success of transition to Medela NPWT system can also be measured by cost savings and healing speed. Because the Medela pumps perform so much more reliably than their predecessors, Maria and her team have realized significant savings on the costs of dressings alone. And wounds are healing quickly, supported by the performance of the Medela NPWT system. Patients also report feeling comfortable with their machines.

Going Above and Beyond

“I feel supported every step of the way with Medela. They’re very hands-on. I always have someone knowledgeable to bounce questions and ideas off of, which is especially important in a small hospital like ours.”

“As great as Medela NPWT products are,” Maria says, “stellar customer service makes those products even better.” Maria’s working relationships with her Medela clinical liasion and sales representative have grown so strong, she now considers them friends.

On numerous occassions, she’s called her clinical liasion on the spur-of-the-moment to consult on a particularly challenging wound care scenario. “I’ll call and leave her a message. No matter how busy she is, she calls me back within minutes. And she always follows-up to see how my case is proceeding.

One specific instance of customer support from Medela stands out in Maria’s mind. It was a complicated case where a patient was being discharged with a very complicated dressing. The Medela clinical liasion:

  • Called the patient’s family directly to coach them on the situation
  • Ensured delivery of the NPWT system before the patient arrived home
  • Performed “above and beyond” what Maria would ever expect from a device manufacturer

Expanding the use of Medela NPWT

“Medela’s outstanding customer service is unrivaled and is their #1 differentiator. Their product is without a doubt the easiest NPWT system I’ve ever used.”

Today, after 15 years as Nurse Manager of the spinal cord injury unit, Maria has moved on to a new role as the Director of Admissions and Case Management. Based on her experience, she is now on a mission to bring Medela NPWT systems to the care of subacute patients as well. The hospital has already purchased 2 new Medela pumps for subacute care.

Discover more about Medela NPWT

For a more in-depth look at how the simplicity, ease-of-use, and quiet comfort of the Invia Liberty and Invia Motion NPWT systems might help your patient populations, contact your Medela sales representative today.

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

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