Medical Sheepskins have been produced in Australia for a very long time. They have been used extensively in Hospitals and Nursing Homes with a lot of success. However, one problem led to their decrease in popularity- after washing, many sheepskins developed a leather hardening. This leather hardening created more problems for the user and reduced their pressure sore prevention effectiveness.
These and other problems were solved with the introduction of the: " Australian Medical Sheepskin AS4480.1 1998". This Medical Sheepskin was developed by scientists at CSIRO ( Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)..the leading research institute in Australia. With the leadership of Dr Ken Montgomery, the Australian Standard AS4480.1 was developed. This Standard prescribes specifications for the wool pile and leather substrate.
Australian Standard AS4480.1 Wool pile specifications:
- fibre 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 colour - green- specified by the Pantone Matching System
- wool dye fastness
- Degree of tannage: Hitemp - minimum shrinkage temperature 110 degrees celsius
- Maintence of shrinkage temperature following washing & drying. Shrinkage temperature shall not decrease by more than 5 degrees Celsius 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:
- Sequestering Agents
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 Centre coordinates testing for tanners.
Laundering of Medical Sheepskins is considered to be the critical issue in the use of Medical Sheepskins for Pressure Sore, Bedsore and Decubitus Ulcer Prevention. The 2 greatest risks are:
- 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.
All of this proves that 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 client 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 hosptital 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 Fremantle 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|
% Total Number of Patients
|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|
|% 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.
Preventing pressure ulcers with the Australian Medical Sheepskin: an open-label randomised controlled trial.
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.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Superior Overlay ( SC104) is 30" x 60"; making it large enough to protect the whole body of most people.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Heel Protectors(SC112) do just that. Held firmly in place by a velcro strap.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Foot Plate Covers ( SC108) offer foot comfort and protection for wheelchair users.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Elbow Protectors (SC110) protect elbows and add comfort.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Hand Protectors (M115) protect the palm of people with protracted fingers.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Pressure Care Boot (SC201) offers protection with an open toe and a hard sole.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Slipper Boot (SC202) encases the whole foot in soothing sheepskin.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Wrap Around Boot (SC203) Slide foot into the Boot from the back. Hard sole.
- The Australian Medical Sheepskin Tall Slipper Boot (SC204) encases the whole foot and leg. 5 Velcro tabs for complete adjustment.