A new electrified bandage could help detect pressure sores.

Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, affect many bedridden patients and can lead to several complications, including cellulitis, sepsis, cancer and bone and joint infections, according to the Mayo Clinic. What if there was a way to detect these sores before they even occur? That’s exactly what researchers at the University of California, Berkley are trying to do. According to the Toronto Star, these scientists will soon test electrified, adhesive film on humans to see if it can detect bedsores or not.

The electrified bandage predicts wounds by tracking how electrical currents are transmitted through the body’s tissues. When cells are damaged, they are unable to conduct electrical currents through the tissues they form as easily. Berkley researchers put gold electrodes into adhesive film to produce an oscillating current into skin cells that are susceptible to bedsore damage.

Michel Maharbiz, a UC Berkeley associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and head of the smart-bandage project, said in a university statement that he and his team of researchers imagine nurses using these bandages to check susceptible areas on patients.

To find out if the electrified bandage would assess the severity of wounds, researchers pinched mouse skin between two magnets. They discovered that the electrodes could, in fact, reliably detect damaged tissue before it broke out into open sores.

Another positive aspect of this new bandage is that it could prevent nurses and caregivers from having to turn patients over in their beds. Many of these health care workers have endured injuries from lifting heavier patients during long hospital stays. Since the bandage can predict wounds, it could help reduce the need to lift patients until the degree of damage is assessed.

Pressure sores cost a lot of money to treat

If the electrified bandage has positive results in the upcoming human trials, it could help reduce health care costs associated with pressure sores. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, pressure ulcers cost the U.S. health care system $9.1-$11.6 billion every year. Medicare reported that every pressure sore added $43,180 in hospital costs in 2007.

It doesn’t just cost money to treat these ulcers. Pressure sores also can lead to lawsuits, which can dramatically affect a hospital’s bottom line. More than 17,000 lawsuits relating to pressure ulcers are filed every year.

Additionally, pressure sores significantly affect a patient’s quality of life and can lead to death. Each year, 60,000 patients die from pressure ulcers.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.