Australian Medical Sheepskin: AS4480.1

Australian Medical Sheepskin: AS4480.1

Medical Sheepskins have been used in Australia since the 1950's. Those used extensively in Hospitals and Nursing Homes were very effective. However, washing often created a problem..the leather backing shrank and went hard.  This hardening created more problems than benefits for the user and as a result, they went out of use. 

Leather hardening and other problems were resolved with the introduction of the: " Australian Medical Sheepskin AS 4480.1 1998". The new green Australian Medical Sheepskin was developed by scientists et al at CSIRO ( Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)..the leading research institute in Australia. Under the leadership of Dr Ken Montgomery, the Australian Standard AS 4480.1 was developed.

The new Australian Standard, known as AS4480.1 , prescribed specifications for the wool and leather backing.

 AS4480.1 Specifications

  1.  Wool Specifications:
  • fiber diameter from 26 - 34 microns
  • pile height should be minimum of 25 mm in a washed state
  • uniform wool-pile density- visual appearance
  • wool dye color - green- specified by the Pantone Matching System
  • wool dye fastness

    2.  Leather Specifications:

  • Degree of tannage: HiTemp - means that the sheepskin has a minimum shrinkage temperature  of 110oC  ie washing water temperatures below that will not cause shrinking of the leather.
  • Maintenance of shrinkage temperature following washing & drying. Shrinkage temperature shall not decrease by more than 5 o C after five appropriate wash and dry cycles.

 Some chemicals routinely used in laundries are detrimental to chrome tanned leather. The following should never be used for laundering Australian Medical Sheepskins and Australian Medical Sheepskin Products:

  • Enzymes
  • Phosphates
  • Peroxide
  • Alkali
  • Bleach
  • Triethanolamine
  • Sequestering Agents
  • Wool-Lite

This list led to the development of Woolskin, the cleaning and conditioning agent developed specifically for the laundering of Australian Medical Sheepskin. Washing and disinfection of Sheepskin is now possible with the use of Woolskin for laundering.

The Australian Standard contains criteria that must be met before the compliance label is fixed on the leather. This label guarantees that the tanners have complied with the Australian Standard AS4480.1 The CSIRO Leather Research Center coordinates testing for tanners.

         hitempurstamp.jpg AS4480.1 Stamp     Shear Comfort Product TagShearcomfort-Tag

Laundering of Medical Sheepskins is a critical issue in the safe and effective use of Medical Sheepskins for Pressure Sore, Bedsore and Decubitus Ulcer Prevention. Major damage will occur if:

  • Incorrect chemicals being accidentally added in the wash process
  • Excessive temperatures during laundry procedures.

There has not been a known case, to date, where the leather of HiTemp UR Medical Sheepskin products has failed due to washing, when the correct washing procedures have been used. 

When you purchase an Australian Medical Sheepskin or an Australian Medical Sheepskin product, you will receive the best Medical Sheepskin available anywhere. These sheepskins all share the same properties and have been proven effective in significantly reducing the possibility of a person or animal developing Pressure Sores.

 Random Controlled Trials

Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT's) provide the level of clinical evidence needed to prove the effectiveness of an item or treatment. In these trials, two groups are compared. In the case of Australian Medical Sheepskins, two groups were compared- one which used the Australian Medical Sheepskin on a standard hospital sheet and mattress- the Experimental Group, the other used just the standard sheet and mattress- the Control Group. Three studies provided the data- one at the Freemantle Hospital, the others at Hollywood Private Hospital in Western Australia and the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne ( Victoria).

Results from the Western Australian trials are shown below:

  Without Sheepskin With Sheepskin
Patients Numbers 142 155

% Total Number of Patients

48% 52%
Patients with Ulcers 43 14
% Group that developed Ulcers 30.3% 9.0%

Results from the largest study done to date, at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, are shown below: 

  Without Sheepskin With Sheepskin
Patients Numbers


% Total Number of Patients 52% 48%
Patients with Ulcers 37 21
% Group that developed Ulcers 16.6%




 All 4 studies showed that there was a significant reduction in the development of pressure ulcers when an Australian Medical Sheepskin overlay was used. Since these studies were completed, Australian Medical Sheepskins have been accepted world-wide.

Australian Medical Sheepskins are now used extensively in Hospitals, Nursing Homes and private homes for the prevention and treatment of Pressure Sores, Bed Sores and Decubitus Ulcers.

 Research Results:

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

Damien J Jolley, Robyn Wright, Sunita McGowan, Mark B Hickey, Kenneth C Montgomery, Don A Campbell and Rodney D Sinclair
Med J Aust 2004; 180 (7): 324-327.


  • Mistiaen, P.J., Jolley, D.J., McGowan, S., Hickey, M.B., Spreeuwenberg, P., Francke, A.L. A multilevel analysis of three randomised controlled trials of the Australian Medical Sheepskin in the prevention of sacral pressure ulcers. Medical Journal of Australia: 2010, 193(11/12), 638-641


Australian Medical Sheepskin Products:

Authentic Australian Medical Sheepskins and products derived from them are now available for public use and can be purchased from this web site.

  • The Authentic Australian Medical Sheepskin Overlay (M102) is HiTemp wash and  Urine Resistant (UR)  These are the only sheepskins suitable for use by incontinent clients. All other sheepskins will break down in the presence of urine. These Overlays are large enough to protect from the shoulders to below the buttocks..approx: 28" X 38"- natural shape.