Harnessing the Full Potential of NPWT in the OR with Medela NPWT Technology

A Legacy of Effective Wound Care

“Most of us skeptics in the operating room thought that foot had to go. But after three months of continual care with the wound therapy pump, [Tom] was able to save the foot with very minimal damage. It was awesome to see.”

For over 3 years, “Kathy” has been a nurse at a 200-bed, county-owned hospital with a Level 3 trauma center averaging 15 surgeries per day. While utilized frequently in the wound therapy department, the surgical team uses Medela negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) – primarily via the Invia® Liberty™ NPWT pump – in the OR.

Throughout her time at this facility, Kathy has used Medela NPWT to help patients with diverse wound types. Being a county owned hospital, it services a broad range of patients, including nursing home patients on Medicaid or Medicare, uninsured walk-in patients, and patients with private insurance.

Kathy has several years of experience using Medela wound vac therapy in the operating room. Her hospital chose the Invia Liberty for its ease of use, comfortable patient profile, and ongoing service and support from the Medela team.

As an experienced surgical nurse, Kathy is often tasked with applying NPWT pumps to patients in the operating room. As part of her discussion with Medela, she shared a powerful case where the Invia Liberty played a pivotal role in saving a patient’s foot from amputation.

Case Study: Medela NPWT Facilitates a Surprise Recovery

“On top of the Invia Liberty device being very easy to use, Medela’s in-clinic service and support is excellent, meaning we rarely run into issues that complicate use of the device.”

In late 2018, Kathy was working the OR when a diabetic patient (“Tom”) was admitted with a severe foot ulcer. Tom had punctured his foot while walking in the woods, and subsequently, the wound became infected. When he was admitted for surgery, Kathy braced for an unfortunate outcome.

“I thought we were going to amputate his big toe, or possibly the entire foot,” she said. “He had tunneling from the top of his foot through the bottom of his foot, and a softball sized patch of tissue that was necrotic.”

Although the surgical team was doubtful of Tom’s ability to keep his foot, they wanted to exhaust every option before turning to amputation. Accordingly, the team debrided the wound, applied the Invia Liberty NPWT pump, and sent him home to prepare the area for a tissue graft. Two weeks later, the team performed an ACell® skin transfer and reapplied the wound vac pump a second time. A month later, Tom returned for a traditional tissue graft, and after three months of routine grafts and outpatient NPWT, he was able to complete treatment and keep his entire foot – minus the very tip of one toe.

“Most of us skeptics in the operating room thought that foot had to go,” said Kathy. “But after three months of continual care with the wound therapy pump, he was able to save the foot with very minimal damage. It was awesome to see.”

Working with the Medela Wound Care Team

“The head of our wound care department uses the Medela NPWT pumps pretty much daily, and the team at large is very experienced with them at this point. Patient results have been positive, and I’ve heard great things from the team, so I don’t see that changing any time soon.”

Kathy attributes the hospital’s high satisfaction with Medela NPWT pumps not only to pump performance, but also to the exceptional service the Medela team provides. Every three months, her facility is visited by a representative from the Medela Wound Care Team: a team of dedicated wound care specialists that help customers adopt useful techniques, troubleshoot technical issues, and service wound care patients as efficiently and effectively as possible. During their visits, Kathy’s dedicated rep sets up two tailored in-service sessions in wound vac education with both the OR and the outpatient wound care center, helping new and veteran staff grow and retain their NPWT knowledge base. These sessions benefit both the surgical and wound care teams, as the Medela rep answers questions and provides insights tailored to those units’ specific needs.

“On top of the Invia Liberty device being very easy to use, Medela’s in-clinic service and support is excellent, meaning we rarely run into issues that complicate use of the device,” said Kathy. “Even the best hospitals have some turnover across departments, so it’s helpful to have our rep come in, remind us of useful tips and tricks, and generally make sure everyone’s on the same page.”

As a result of the Medela team’s frequent and informative visits, the hospital’s nursing staff is familiar and comfortable with NPWT as a technology and the Invia Liberty pump as a device, utilizing it in both the operating room and outpatient wound center, which services patients that require long-term wound management.

 “The head of our wound care department uses the Medela NPWT pumps pretty much daily, and the team at large is very experienced with them at this point. Patient results have been positive, and I’ve heard great things from the team.”

The Medela Perspective - By Jesse Cantu, Medela Clinical Sales Specialist - NPWT

During my time as a clinical specialist at this facility, I never met a nurse that wasn’t fully engaged in learning the nuances of this device. Nurse educators would set up in a private room next to the cafeteria, and every nurse would come and attend the educational in-service. We’re always excited to work with hospital teams that want to build a partnership of learning. Our clinical and patient support extends beyond delivering effective wound healing, using evidence-based and cost-effective standards of care, and providing positive patient outcomes.

How our Medela team successfully provided support:

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

  • Trained the staff on multidisciplinary team processes, helping nursing departments build a ‘SWAT’ (Skin Wound Assessment Team).
  • Offered a crash course on the mechanisms of action (MOAs) of NPWT, to help users better understand how NPWT will best promote wound healing.
  • Talked about the technical components of the Medela NPWT device, helping the team troubleshoot the 5 most common alarms: air leak, low battery, filter clogged, system clogged, and full canister.
  • Finished by summarizing the stellar support Medela offers, including the 24/7 clinical and technical support, quick-start card, and smartphone app.

A Personal Touch

“It’s remarkable how Medela was able to evolve their core technology, which was used in breast pumps, to create effective NPWT devices.”

After describing the merits of Medela NPWT Negative Pressure Wound Therapy in the operating room, Kathy shared a more personal anecdote: using a Medela breast pump as part of her child-rearing.

“Compared to the device my sister used, my Medela breast pump is much quieter, more comfortable, and easy to use – much like the wound therapy pumps we give our patients. It’s remarkable how Medela was able to evolve their core technology, which was used in breast pumps, to create overwhelmingly effective NPWT devices. The trust I had built in Medela from my personal experience with their breast pump made me confident in trusting their NPWT technology with my patients.”

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

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