Redefining Support Surface Terms and Definitions
The Support Surface Standards Initiative (S3I) is the official industry standards body within the National
Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP). S3I develops terminology, test methods, and reporting standards for
medical support surfaces—with the goal of establishing guidelines to help consumers more easily
evaluate and compare support surface characteristics.
In late 2018, the S3I committee released its new list of Terms and Definitions Related to Support Surfaces. The
group defines support surface as: A specialized device for pressure redistribution designed for management of
tissue loads, microclimate, and/or other therapeutic functions (e.g. any mattress, integrated bed system,
mattress replacement, overlay, seat cushion, or seat cushion overlay).
Highlights of what’s new
While the list contains more than 50 definitions, only a handful were new to the list, including these
- Bottoming out: the state of support surface
deformation beyond critical immersion whereby effective pressure redistribution is lost. (Clinical
Note: bottoming out is not a good thing.)
- Critical immersion: the threshold beyond
which increased deformation of the support surface has the effect of concentrating and increasing
localized pressure. (Clinical Note: critical immersion is nearly bottoming out)
- Full-body support surface: a specialized
device for pressure redistribution designed for management of tissue loads, microclimate, and/or
other therapeutic functions. (Clinical Note: head-to-heel support)
- High-specification foam support surface/
mattress: a reactive support surface meeting specific requirements of density, support
factor, depth, and type of mattress cover. Characteristics are found in the International Press
Guidelines under Support Surfaces. (Clinical Note: not all foam is the same)
- Microclimate: The temperature and humidity in
a specified location. For purposes of support surfaces, microclimate refers to temperature and
humidity at the support surface/body interface
- Safe working load: Maximum external
mechanical load (mass) on equipment or an equipment part that is permitted in normal use
- Therapeutic working load (weight range): The
rated load range at which the features of a support surface are functioning according to its
|For More Info
|A complete list of the S3I Terms and Definitions can be accessed online at npuap.org
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Call 800-814-9389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.