Preventing pressure ulcers with the Australian Medical Sheepskin: an open-label randomised controlled trial

Med J Aust. 2004 Apr 5;180(7):324-7. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2004.tb05966.x.


Objective: To estimate the effectiveness of a new high-performance Australian medical sheepskin (meeting Australian Standard 4480.1-1998) in preventing pressure ulcers in a general hospital population at low to moderate risk of these ulcers.

Design: Open-label randomised controlled clinical trial.

Setting: A large metropolitan teaching hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, in 2000.

Participants: 441 patients aged over 18 years admitted between 12 June and 30 November 2000, with expected length of stay over 2 days and assessed as at low to moderate risk of developing pressure ulcers.

Intervention: Patients were randomly allocated to receive a sheepskin mattress overlay for the duration of their hospital stay (218 patients) or usual treatment, as determined by ward staff (referent group, 223 patients).

Main outcome measures: Incidence rate and cumulative incidence of pressure ulcers, assessed daily throughout hospital stay.

Results: 58 patients developed pressure ulcers (sheepskin group, 21; referent group, 37). Cumulative incidence risk was 9.6% in the sheepskin group (95% CI, 6.1%-14.3%) versus 16.6% in the referent group (95% CI, 12.0%-22.1%). Patients in the sheepskin group developed new pressure ulcers at a rate less than half that of referent patients (rate ratio, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.26-0.67).

Conclusions: The Australian Medical Sheepskin is effective in reducing the incidence of pressure ulcers in general hospital inpatients at low to moderate risk of these ulcers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Bedding and Linens*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Pressure Ulcer / etiology
  • Pressure Ulcer / nursing
  • Pressure Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sheep*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Victoria
  • Wool*