NHS Improvement National Patient Safety Team Advice for HCP using Alternating Pressure Systems (APS)

The National Patient Safety Team are aware of reported incidents where healthcare professionals have been unsure about the use of alternating pressure systems (APS) and the increased potential for harm in the event of a fire, especially if the patient using the APS is a smoker. Consequently these systems have sometimes been withdrawn resulting in the development of pressure sores. The team are not aware of any national guidance however believe that the use of APS should be considered as part of a full risk assessment that includes the needs of the patient and their environment, and if the requirement for a pressure relieving system is paramount then carers, family members and the patient need to be aware of the risk of secondary ignition of the system in the event of a fire.

General advice to consider as part of the risk assessment can be found in the manufacturer guidance and discussion of any risks with the patient/carer/family should be documented.  Any device concerns should be reported to the organisational line manager and directly to the MHRA Yellow Card https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/

The National Patient Safety Team would be grateful if you would consider sharing this amongst your professional members with a view that this intelligence will be useful for all healthcare professionals working in the community and patients own homes.