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Head-of-Bed Elevation in Critically Ill Patients: A Review

Author(s): Norma A. Metheny, RN, PHD; Rita A. Frantz, RN, PHD

Contact Hours: 1.00

CERP A: 1.00

Expires Jun 01, 2017

Topics: Pulmonary, SkinWound

Population: Adult

Role: Staff

Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

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Activity Summary

Clinicians are confused by conflicting guidelines about the use of head-of-bed elevation to prevent aspiration and pressure ulcers in critically ill patients. Research-based information in support of guidelines for head-of-bed elevation to prevent either condition is limited. However, positioning of the head of the bed has been studied more extensively for the prevention of aspiration than for the prevention of pressure ulcers, especially in critically ill patients. More research on pressure ulcers has been conducted in healthy persons or residents of nursing homes than in critically ill patients.


  • Discuss guidelines for head-of-bed (HOB) elevation to prevent aspiration and pressure ulcers
  • Distinguish relevant studies recommending HOB elevation to prevent aspiration and aspiration-related conditions
  • Critique studies relevant to HOB elevation for pressure ulcer prevention

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


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