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Surgical services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital has begun using “dolphin pads,” originally used to transport dolphins and seals long distances without damaging their sensitive skin. 

The pads are used to prevent pressure ulcers in patients during surgery. 

The dolphin pad, also known as the Microsolo900T surgical table surface, has a microprocessor which automatically profiles a patient’s height, weight and girth. 

It then continually moniters their position, pressure, temperature, moisture, age, condition, perfusion and blood flow. The system will mechanically readjust if a patient’s position is changed. 

Because of this new technology, combined with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) defining pressure ulcers as a never event, the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation approved the funding to pay for this important upgrade. Now, 31 of the 51 operating rooms strategically placed throughout the hospital have the dolphin pads. 

“We looked at in-patient skin breakdown rates and focused on vascular, transplant and cardiothoracic surgeries,” says Colleen Becker, RN, director of patient care in surgical services. 

Conducting a two-year study on pressure ulcers in the OR, a team led by Sally Favaloro, RN, found out about the dolphin pads through their research. 
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