“Most positioning injuries are caused by mechanisms involving compression or stretching, according to the 2017 AORN Guideline for Positioning the Patient*.  “Positioning patients is one of the most important tasks performed by perioperative personnel.” The goals of patient positioning, the Guidelines explain, include:

*Be sure to ask the head of education for your facility for a copy of the Guidelines. 

  • providing exposure of the surgical site
  • maintaining patient comfort and privacy
  • providing access to intravenous lines and monitoring equipment
  • allowing for optimal ventilation
  • maintaining circulation
  • protecting muscles, nerves, bony prominences, joints, skin, and vital organs from injury
  • protecting fingers, toes, and genitals
  • stabilizing the patient to prevent unintended shifting

“It is essential that perioperative patients be positioned on surfaces that redistribute pressure; however, selection of appropriate support surfaces for the perioperative practice setting is a complex process that warrants evaluation and review by a multidisciplinary team.” “Towels, sheets, and blankets should not be used as positioning devices”… (VII.d.1. of Guidelines). “Using rolled or folded towels, sheets, or blankets as positioning devices increases pressure, contributes to friction injuries, and decreases the pressure-redistributing properties of the support surface” (Recommendation IVb of Guidelines).

What about pillows and vacuum-packed positioning devices? “Pillows may be used for patient positioning. Notably, pillows provide only a minimal amount of pressure redistribution” (Guidelines, VII.d.2) “A vacuum packed positioning device may be used” (Guidelines, VII.d.3.).

However, the Guidelines themselves point out the very disadvantage of both pillows and vacuum-packed devices: “However, after decompression, these devices can increase pressure on nerves and over bony prominences.”

Decompression – that’s precisely the problem with “bed-derivative” products.  Polymer, by contrast, does not “bottom out”. (Bottoming out occurs when the support surface becomes fully compressed under the weight of the patient’s body.) At Action Products, this is the precise driver for the use of viscoelastic polymer gel overlays, designed to support the patient’s weight without becoming fully compressed under the weight of the patient’s body.  Gel overlays, we point out, are: 

  1. re-usable
  2. radiolucent
  3. latex-free

Just two examples of ways polymer gel positioners would be more effective than pillows:

AORN guideline: a) “A pillow or pad may be placed under the patient’s lumbosacral area”.  See Action Products’  Thoracic Positioner. b)”To prevent popliteal vein compression and reduce the risk for DVT, place pillow under the knees.” See Action Products’ Dome Positioner.

The OR floor is another location in which “bedroom-derivatives” should not be placed. Single-use disposable products such as DryMax XL have enormous advantages over towels and blankets for fall prevention and infection control. 

bedding not for operating room

At Action Products, our belief can be quite simply stated: if it goes on your bed, it does not belong in the O.R.!