Swinging Away NICU Pressure Ulcers

Tammy Bass RN

I have been privileged to be a NICU nurse for 24 years. In all those years, I have cared for thousands of tiny babies, including those weighing less than a pound. To reduce the risk of head bleeds that can lead to intellectual disability and cerebral palsy, these tiny babies are placed on a minimal stimulation protocol and are laid flat on their backs for five days.

Although developmental positioning tools and nursing care have come a long way for these tiny babies, no tool has been developed that can successfully remove all pressure points and therefore prevent pressure ulcers or sores.

But then I had an idea. While camping with my family one weekend, I was enjoying the hammock that I got as a gift from my husband for my birthday. As I laid swaying in the breeze in the most comfortable position, I thought, “This is what our babies need!”

Up until leadership announced the Dell Innovation Challenge, the hammock idea for our tiny babies was just a thought. But with the challenge in full swing, I started trying to figure out a design that would work for our NICU babies. As luck would have it, I was actually paired with an amazing mentor from Brazil who explained to me that in her country all babies are placed in hammocks in the hospital.

As it turned out, I was a semifinalist in the Dell Innovation Challenge and the hammocks were also recognized as one of six innovations to move forward by Launchpad Ascension. We are currently gathering feedback from our NICU nurses and other clinical staff and the next step will be to take a prototype and policy and procedures to the Internal Review Board for review and approval.

Tammy Bass, BSN, RNC-NIC
Staff RN, NICU Float Pool