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Reducing the Stigma of Incontinence

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Mar 10, 2013 9:27:00 AM

Cheryl GartleyWe’ve talked quite a bit about how to talk about incontinence and the importance of addressing the stigma of incontinence in society. Incontinence is a symptom of a medical issue, not a standard part of life, no matter your age. So we’re thrilled to share the article below from the Mundelein Review!

They interviewed our pal, Cheryl Gartley, CEO of the Simon Foundation for Continence! See full article here: http://mundelein.suntimes.com/opinions/17855744-598/taking-stigma-off-incontinence.html

Orange Line

Watching daytime TV, and all of the commercials for incontinence products, one might think that incontinence is a normal part of life and aging.

While television commercials do help in decreasing the stigma attached to incontinence, it is still a very sensitive subject and experts say that is not something that individuals should just live with.

“Incontinence is a symptom of something else happening in the body,” says Cheryle Gartley, CEO of The Simon Foundation for Continence, based in Wilmette. “As we age there are changes in the body. That very fact can make [seniors] more susceptible to incontinence.”

Gartley says that talking about incontinence can be challenging for many people, but she believes that it is so important for seniors, and others, who experience symptoms of incontinence, to talk with their physicians so that the underlying reasons can be explored.

“Incontinence is a generic term for the way that the bladder is misbehaving,” Gartley said. “Specifically say what is going on to your doctor. Do you leak urine when you lift your grandchild or when you sneeze or laugh? That is one set of circumstances that indicates stress urinary incontinence.

“Do you have a sudden urge to urinate and it may or may not be associated with leakage? That’s overactive bladder and that’s caused by something different in the body.”

She also says that there is a lot of misunderstanding about issues relating to incontinence and the bladder. “Most people do not understand that the bladder is a muscle. They think of it as a vessel. That misperception leads to some things that aren’t good for the bladder.” Gartley said that when someone stops to use the bathroom when they do not have the urge, but are going “just in case,” it can actually create problems, rather than helping. “If the bladder never gets the chance to fill to its full capacity, like any other muscle that isn’t used, it doesn’t get the chance to do the job it was designed to do and you increase the chance of a misbehaving bladder.”

Gartley also understands that people may be embarrassed to talk about incontinence problems. She says although it may be difficult, it’s important to remember that physicians and nurses are used to these issues and they are trained to help.

Simon Foundation Logo“We’ve done work on stigma a lot in health care.” said Gartley, who started the Simon Foundation 30 years ago because of a personal experience with incontinence. She started to look for help herself, and couldn’t locate any support. Shortly after starting the organization they were featured in an Ann Landers column. A few days later they received a call from the post office: 30,000 pieces of mail from people impacted by incontinence had arrived. “The need was unbelievable,” she recalls.

The Simon Foundation just published a new book, “Managing Life with Incontinence,” to support families and individuals. Gartley says the book is unique because in addition to providing information about how to talk to doctors, family and friends and what resources are available, there are stories of individuals who actually are affected by incontinence. The Simon Foundation can be contacted online at www.simonfoundation.org or (800) 23-SIMON.


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Topics: external catheter for men

Top Tips for Pressure Ulcer Prevention from ABC Medical!

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Feb 22, 2013 11:00:00 AM

We're thrilled to be partnering with ABC Home Medical and wanted to share a blog from one of their RNs focusing on pressure ulcers - a common malady some individuals with spinal cord injuries. Check out the full blog below:

ABC Medical logo

The latest advice and helpful tip from our resident Registered Nurse.

A pressure sore is any redness or break in the skin caused by too much pressure in one area for too long a period of time. The pressure prevents blood from getting to your skin, causing the skin to die. Normally, your nerves send messages of pain or feelings of discomfort to your brain to let you know that you need to change position, but damage to your spinal cord keeps these messages from reaching your brain.

In order to prevent pressure sores, do pressure reliefs (also called weight shifting, pressure redistribution and pressure reduction) on a regular basis.

  • Pressure relief is moving or lifting yourself to take the pressure off areas that have been under pressure, usually from sitting or lying in one position, so blood can circulate.
  • When sitting in your wheelchair you should do pressure reliefs every 15 to 30 minutes for a duration of at least 30 to 90 seconds. Continue to perform pressure reliefs when sitting in a car or on other surfaces.
  • If you are unable to perform a pressure relief independently, instruct the person who helps you with your daily care (family, attendant) to consistently move you to reduce pressure over areas at risk for pressure sores.

Pressure ReliefCheck your skin, or have your attendant or caregiver check your skin, a minimum of twice a day (morning and bedtime).  Look for changes in skin color (redness or darkening), blisters, bruises, cracked, scraped or dry skin. Feel for hardness, swelling or warmth, as these may signal skin breakdown. In some areas of the body, the bones are closer to the surface of the skin, causing increased pressure and risk for sores.  

Below are some areas that the skin that is directly over bone and is at highest risk; check these areas very carefully:

   Lower back


   Heel of the foot

   The base of the buttocks ("seat bones")

   Hip (from lying on side, something rubbing, or tight clothes)

   Elbow (from leaning on it)

   Knee (from spasms or side-lying with one knee on top of other)

   Ankle (from lying on side)

   Toes and bony areas of foot (from tight-fitting shoes)

   Back of the head

Inspect areas of skin that are in contact with casts or braces twice daily.  Use a mirror to inspect skin in hard-to-see areas. Pay attention to fingernails and toenails: an ingrown toenail or cut along your nail bed may lead to a sore which can easily be infected.  As soon as you notice a discolored area, stay off the area until it returns to normal skin color.

Make sure you clean any areas in which you notice any discoloration, and keep all pressure off this area!  Wash with mild soap and water, rinse well, and gently pat dry.  Do not rub vigorously directly over the wound, as this will further irritate the skin.  If you do notice a pressure sore and if any of the following occur, you need to seek help:

  • An increase in the size or drainage of the sore
  • Increased redness around the sore or black areas starting to form
  • The sore starts smelling and/or the drainage becomes a greenish color
  • You develop a fever

If pressure sores continuously occur, you may need to make some adjustments in your day-to-day routine.  Reevaluate your diet and increase your daily exercise.  You may also need to see a doctor or physical therapist to get your seating adjusted, as sliding in a wheelchair that does not fit properly can lead to pressure sores. 


Learn More About ABC Medical!


Topics: external catheter for men, adaptive athletes, spinal cord injury

Men’s Liberty Announces New Partnership with Townsend Rep Group!

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Feb 19, 2013 9:12:00 AM

We’re thrilled to announce that Men’s Liberty is launching a new distribution partnership with Townsend Rep Group to sell our products in SCI clinics, VA facilities and rehab centers across the United States.

Here at Men’s Liberty we’re thrilled to be involved with a great company that shares our mission to provide innovative new products that can revolutionize the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries.

Chief Strategy Offices, Wendy LaTorre said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with this amazing group. TRG has impressed me with their professionalism, dedication and unswerving commitment to improving the quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injuries. We are confident we can work with Townsend Rep Group to grow both our businesses and expand the reach of the Men’s Liberty product!”

TRG LogoTRG Founder, Peggy Townsend said: “Men’s Liberty is a fantastic addition to our product lines targeting individuals with a spinal cord injury. We’re excited to be entering the urology market and look forward to building on this relationship in the coming months and years.”

Townsend Rep Group was founded in 2009 in San Antonio, TX. After seeing the need for medical equipment representation in other states, they quickly spread and now have many national contracts and cover all 50 states. We are constantly growing and evolving, much like the industry we're in.  For more information on TRG, visit them online at: www.townsendrepgroup.com

Men’s Liberty was developed in 2006 with the goal of solving one of the most pervasive health issues today, urinary incontinence. We are inspired by the impact quality healthcare has on the lives of the people we serve and empathize with the challenges that patients face when managing activities of daily living.  Men’s Liberty can help them overcome their challenges with comfort and dignity. By challenging industry standards, we challenge ourselves to maintain the leading-edge. More than 1.5 million Men’s Liberty units have been sold without a single reportable adverse event caused by Men’s Liberty, including UTI or skin injury. We are very proud of that!

We’re looking forward to getting started and we’ll be updating you all regularly on our new initiatives to spread the word!

Topics: external catheter for men, spinal cord injury, announcements

Meet Men’s Liberty Users Tina & Eric

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Feb 4, 2013 1:30:00 PM

We love hearing from our customers and Tina & Eric are no exception. They’ve been using the product since 2012 and it’s made a huge difference. Tina was kind enough to write us a brief letter about their experiences and we wanted to share it with you all -

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Dear Mens' Liberty,

I wanted to write your company a note regarding your external catheter product.  Your product was recommended to my family from the ALS Clinic in Portland Oregon.  Always the skeptic, the word catheter scared me a bit.

The reason this product was recommended to us is that my husband has ALS, and is unable to get up and use the restroom as needed.

It took a couple of attempts to get the product on correctly, but once it was in place, it worked out very well.  I was initially scared to tape anything in that region, but that was not a problem as the materials they used are great, easy to remove and painless for my husband.

Living with ALSThis product has made a large impact on our lives.  The most degrading thing that my husband can think of is being in a diaper.  Your product helped him to avoid that bit of humiliation.  We were able to utilize this product so that he could attend our daughter’s graduation in comfort and without the fear of an "accident" that would further embarrass him. You could not tell he had it on through his clothes, which was a big concern for my husband.

It also allows me, the caregiver some leeway when needing to run errands, etc. 

I wanted to pass along my praise of your product as I can see many applications in the lives of men everywhere.  More doctors should offer your products, as I had never even heard of anything like this before.

The fact that this product helped my husband retain his dignity in the face of a terrible disease, speaks volumes about the usefulness of its applications.

One more note, Cory was an excellent resource for me.  In this time of tragedy in our lives, he followed up with me with all due respect to my situation.  He offered guidance on the product and a personal touch of support that you don't see often in this day and age.

Your product has been an excellent resource and you should be commended for putting it out there for people.


Tina P.

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A big thank you to Tina for sharing her experiences as a caregiver using Men’s Liberty. Do you have a Men’s Liberty story we can share? Leave us a note in the comments or send an email to CustomerCare@mensliberty.com!

Does your doctor know about Men’s Liberty? Send them some information!

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Topics: bladder control, external catheter for men, Caregiving, Patient Stories

Which Prostate Cancer Treatment is Best for Me?

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Jan 18, 2013 11:33:00 AM

Surgery Ranks as the Most Cost-Effective Type of Treatment, According to UCSF-Led Study

According to a new research published by the University of California, surgery is the best treatment for both high and low risk prostate cancers. Researchers completed the most comprehensive retrospective study ever conducted comparing how the major types of prostate cancer treatments stack up to each other in terms of saving lives and cost effectiveness.

Appearing in the British Journal of Urology International, the work analyzed 232 papers published in the last decade that report results from clinical studies following patients with low-, intermediate- and high-risk forms of prostate cancer who were treated with one or more of the standard treatments – radiation therapy, surgery, hormone therapies and brachytherapy.

The analysis shows that for people with low-risk prostate cancer, the various forms of treatment vary only slightly in terms of survival – the odds of which are quite good for men with this type of cancer, with a 5-year cancer-specific survival rate of nearly 100 percent. But the cost of radiation therapy is significantly more expensive than surgery for low-risk prostate cancer, they found.

For intermediate- and high-risk cancers, both survival and cost generally favored surgery over other forms of treatment – although combination external-beam radiation and brachytherapy together were comparable in terms of quality of life-adjusted survival for high-risk prostate cancer.

“Our findings support a greater role for surgery for high-risk disease than we have generally seen it used in most practice settings,” said urologist Matthew Cooperberg, MD, MPH who led the research. Cooperberg is an assistant professor of urology and epidemiology and biostatistics in the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Many Treatment Options, but Few Cost Analyses

Localized prostate cancer accounts for about 81 percent of the quarter-million cases of prostate cancers that occur in the United States every year, according to the National Cancer Institute. It is defined by tumors that have not metastasized and spread outside the prostate gland to other parts of the body.

There are multiple types of treatment for this form of the disease, including various types of surgery (open, laparoscopic or robot-assisted); radiation therapy (dose-escalated three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy and brachytherapy); hormone therapies; and combinations of each of these. Many men with low-risk prostate cancer do not need any of these treatments, and can be safely observed, at least initially.

Treatment plans for localized prostate cancer often vary dramatically from one treatment center to another. As Cooperberg put it, one person may have surgery, while someone across town with a very similar tumor may have radiation therapy, and a third may undergo active surveillance. All treatment regimens may do equally well.

“There is very little solid evidence that one [approach] is better than another,” said Cooperberg. The motivation for the new study, however, was that there are also few data examining the differences in terms of cost-effectiveness – the price to the health care system for every year of life gained, with adjustment for complications and side effects of treatments.

The new study was the most comprehensive cost analysis ever, and it compared the costs and outcomes associated with the various types of treatment for all forms of the disease, which ranged from $19,901 for robot-assisted prostatectomy to treat low-risk disease, to $50,276 for combined radiation therapy for high-risk disease.

The study did not consider two other approaches for dealing with prostate cancer: active surveillance, where patients with low-risk cancer are followed closely with blood tests and biopsies and avoid any initial treatment; and proton therapy, which is much more expensive and has already been shown in multiple studies not to be cost-effective, said Cooperberg.

The article, “Primary treatments for clinically localised prostate cancer: a comprehensive lifetime cost-utility analysis” is authored by Matthew R. Cooperberg, Naren R. Ramakrishna, Steven B. Duff, Kathleen E. Hughes, Sara Sadownik, Joseph A. Smith and Ashutosh K. Tewari. It was published online on Dec. 28, 2012 by the British Journal of Urology International. The article can be accessed at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2012.11597.x

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This study adds to our knowledge and will hopefully assist doctors and patients in choosing the right treatment option for them. Unfortunately, from our perspective, one key area is missing from their assessment… complication costs. Surgery is proving cheaper for many men; however, surgery comes with risks and costs that are sometimes hard to quantify.

According to the New York Times Health Guide, the main complications from radical prostatectomy are urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Other complications include the usual risks of any surgery, such as blood clots, heart problems, infection, and bleeding.

Urinary Incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a common complication. When the urinary catheter is first removed following surgery, nearly all patients lack control of urinary function and will leak urine for at least a few days and sometimes for months. Normal urinary function usually returns within about 18 months. A percentage of men will continue to have small amounts of leakage with heavier exertion or possibly sexual activity. If incontinence persists beyond a year, patients may require drug therapy or surgery.

Erectile Dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction after radical prostatectomy is caused by nerves that were damaged or removed during the surgery. Virtually all men will have problems with erectile dysfunction after surgery. It can take up to one to two years to recover erectile function after surgery. Because seminal glands are removed along with the prostate gland during surgery, men who regain sexual function will not produce semen during orgasm (“dry ejaculation”).

With the use of effective nerve-sparing techniques, men who were sexually active before surgery and are involved in an ongoing relationship seem to have a better chance of returned sexual function. Drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra) may help some men regain erectile function. Use of these drugs three times a week accompanied by sexual stimulation is now commonly recommended. Other treatments for erectile dysfunction (alprostadil injections, vacuum devices, penile implants) may also be options.

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What’s best for you is a complicated balancing act, weighing risk against potential reward and a good amount of wishful thinking and guess work. The men we talk to are broadly post-surgery and dealing with long term incontinence. And we’re privileged to offer them a better alternative than pads, diapers and condoms that allows them to get back to living life to the fullest.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, with more than 250,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The only thing I know for certain is that this debate is far from over.

What are your thoughts? What was your experience? Share your story below!

Topics: external catheter for men, proactive patients, prostate cancer

5 Tips for Handling Severe Weather from Men's Liberty

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Dec 28, 2012 10:29:00 AM

With winter weather now in full swing, we wanted to share a few tips from the Mayo Clinic (and others) for people with disabilities for being safe during extreme weather.

People with disabilities may want to take extra care during the cold weather season. Some disabling conditions may limit sensory abilities and the ability to maintain body heat, so be particularly vigilant about staying warm when you are out in low temperatures.

  • Wear multiple layers of clothing, including a scarf around your neck, a winter hat, lined boots and two pairs of socks.
  • If possible, wear thermal gloves underneath mittens to keep your hands warm.
  • It’s also a good idea to carry a cell phone.

Wheelchair Snow Men's LibertyIf you travel in a wheelchair, wrap a small blanket around your legs, tucking it underneath yourself or around your sides. This will help to maintain body heat. Wheelchair users may consider purchasing pneumatic tires for better traction. Another alternative is to use standard dirt bicycle tires. Use table salt or clay cat litter to clear ramps – rock salt can poison working assistance animals and also may be slippery. Remove the tires from your wheelchair and shake debris and ice off them before placing them in your vehicle. Wipe down any metal surfaces (wheelchair tire rims, walkers, etc.) as soon as possible after returning home. This will prevent rusting.

If you are a wheelchair user and unaccustomed to heavy, strenuous wheeling, be very careful when traveling through snow. The added exertion could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Freezing rain also will stick to surfaces such as canes, walkers, forearm cuffs and wheelchairs. Use gripper driving gloves to keep your hands warm and to prevent slipping.

If you use a working assistance dog, remember that dogs also can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. Get a dog coat to place under the harness, and consider getting boots for the paws. Also, have a blanket in your vehicle for the dog.

Additional tips for people with spinal cord injuries:

    • Register with the medical or social needs registries.
    • If you receive home-based care (e.g., homecare attendant, home health aide, visiting nurse service), include caregivers in developing your plan and familiarize yourself with your homecare agency’s emergency plan.
    • If you have a pet or service animal, also plan for his or her needs (e.g., temporary relocation, transportation, etc.).
    • If you rely on home-delivered meals, always stock nonperishable food at home in case meal deliveries are suspended during an emergency.
    • Have a plan with your doctor that addresses emergency prescription refills, if possible.
    • If you receive dialysis or other medical treatments, find out your provider’s emergency plan, including where your back-up site is located.
    • If you get home delivery of medical supplies for incontinence or diabetes, make sure you have enough supplies to last 2-3 weeks; if not, contact your distributor who can make sure you have enough!
    • Develop and stay in touch with a nearby network of assistance – neighbors, relatives, care attendants, friends, and co-workers — preferably before winter storms or record cold moves in. Never depend on one person alone.
    • If you rely on medical equipment that requires electric power, contact your medical supply company for information regarding a back-up power source such as a battery. Ask your utility company if the medical equipment qualifies you to be listed as a life-sustaining equipment customer. 
    • Consider investing in a capacitor ($50-$80) – which is a rechargeable battery that is used to recharge cell phones, mp3 players and other small electronic devices. If you can afford it – there are also some comparably priced portable solar generators ($500-$800) sufficient to power medical equipment (oxygen concentrators, CPAP machines or re-charge power chairs).

But what if the emergency requires evacuation?

People with disabilities must ensure they can quickly escape their homes in an emergency. Patients in Mayo Clinic's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation are educated about large-scale disasters, such as floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, as well as small-scale events, such as home fires.

Wheelchair in Flood Men's Liberty"We see an additional need for patients with disabilities to be prepared to respond to disaster situations," says Lisa Beck, a clinical nurse specialist at Mayo Clinic. "As we learned during Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, persons with disabilities need to consider a number of different factors, such as identifying who is in their support system, special transportation needs and what supplies to include in their emergency preparedness kits."

Beck worked with disabled patients to design patient education materials. She recommends that people with disabilities take the following steps to ensure they are prepared:

  • Practice getting out of the house quickly at least twice a year.
  • Discuss any special needs with a local emergency medical services provider.
  • Plan where to shelter, how to get there and who may need to provide assistance.
  • Prepare an emergency preparedness kit to last 24 to 48 hours, including medication lists, contact numbers, medications, catheter supplies, first aid kit and extra glasses.
  • Consider shelter and supplies for service animals.

These are some great suggestions – so whether it’s a snow storm or a hurricane ripping up your area, follow the Boy Scout motto and – ALWAYS BE PREPARED!! And I just can’t stress enough – make sure you have enough medical supplies for 2-3 weeks, you never know what might happen!


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Topics: external catheter for men, proactive patients, spinal cord injury, tips from Men's Liberty users, travelling with incontinence

An Electrifying Solution for Pressure Ulcers

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Dec 14, 2012 10:08:00 AM

New article out recently that I just wanted to share. I’m not sure whether or not to be appalled or inspired by the evil genius of this idea.

Researchers from the University of Calgary (UoC) in Canada have come up with an unconventional new method of treating bed sores. Doctors from the school have created double-padded underpants that LITERALLY shock the buttocks of immobile patients with electricity in order to simulate actual movement and prevent the development of pressure ulcers.

Smart e pants electric underwear
Patients with spinal cord injuries and other debilitating conditions and illnesses are often confined to wheelchairs or hospital beds for extended periods of time, which makes them prone to developing localized injuries on the skin in areas where constant pressure is being applied, but no movement is taking place. These injuries can take several weeks to heal, often require constant attention and intervention by medical staff and costs the US healthcare system about $11B a year to treat.

While I appreciate the need for reducing the rate and severity of pressure ulcers, I’m not sure electroshock therapy, so to speak, is the best way forward. We here at Men’s Liberty see pressure ulcers occurring regularly among the incontinent population. Incontinence has been known to contribute to the development of pressure ulcers because constant exposure to urine, for example in diapers, can cause skin irritation and compromise skin barrier function.

Common suggestions for preventing pressure ulcers include rotating patients every few hours and encouraging patients with some mobility to lift themselves or reposition their bodies at regular intervals. It’s also a good idea to move away from absorbent products for incontinence and keep your skin clean and dry.

Pressure ReliefAccording to Natural News, a study on the proposed electric underwear was presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference. The study involved 37 patients who were told to wear the electroshock pants for 30 days. During this time, the pants were programmed to deliver 10 seconds of electric stimulation every 10 minutes for 12 hours a day. The intent was to simulate movement by agitating the skin. By the end of the study, not a single patient given the electric pants developed any bed sores, which was termed a success. Experts warn however, should the pants be adopted on a larger scale, patients will still need appropriate care from well-trained hospital staff.

I’ll reserve judgment for now and see how it plays out. Pressure ulcers are a huge issue among the healthcare community and maybe we need unconventional ideas to shake things up. What do you think?

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Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/037762_hospital_patients_electro-shock_bed_sores.html#ixzz2EJ8I7pXo

Topics: urinary management, external catheter for men, spinal cord injury

Healing Technophobia among Nurses with Men's Liberty

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Dec 10, 2012 10:04:00 AM

“IT professionals are great at coming up with nifty tools for bringing clinical data to clinicians – as long as nurses are willing to memorize lots of byzantine paths to that information.”

“Nurses are dedicated to providing direct care for their patients and advocating for them in every way – as long as it doesn’t mean having to adapt to ever-changing computer systems,” says author John Rossheim.

In a great recent article, John delved into the relationship between healthcare and IT and how implementing better technology can support patient centered care. It’s a great message, so we’ve included excerpts from his article below. Catheter management is a huge issue where IT has made an impact through catheter removal reminders and by encouraging nurses to look at other options like Men's Liberty.

There are some great ideas in there - take a look and share your thoughts!!



Computer NurseStereotypes have helped perpetuate the notion that there’s a culture clash between clinicians and IT folks, a conflict that can scuttle the implementation of an electronic records system or at least reduce its effectiveness. But with careful planning and execution, this clash can be reframed to create a working coalition of healers and technologists. Here are some principles for increasing the odds of a successful collaboration.

Time Savings Come, with Time.
Let’s start with one perceived clash that any healthcare IT implementation team must address: that a new or upgraded electronic system will take direct-care time away from clinicians, at least in the early going. “Nurses have a way of viewing anything that comes between them and the patient as a threat,” says Mary Cothron, RN, a clinical trainer and implementation specialist at Informatics Corporation of America in Nashville.

Given nurses’ heavy record-keeping burden, their concern is understandable. Among the major tasks in an average shift, nurses spent 55.7 percent of their time on indirect care tasks such as documentation, versus just 32.8 percent of each shift on direct patient care, according to a 2008 study appearing in Nursing Leadership. So it’s reasonable for clinicians to push hard for an IT implementation that on balance will give them more time with patients. “When you add something to nurses’ workload, you also have to look at what you can take away,” says Harry Jacobson, M.D., CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Nurses already have too many tasks.”

While navigating an online recordkeeping system may initially take longer than pen and paper, a digital records system has clear-cut time-saving features, and these should be highlighted. “When you bring in electronic records, you go from not being able to find the chart 20 percent of the time to always being able to find it,” says Chris Wood, M.D., Medical Director of Information systems at Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit system based in Salt Lake City. “You have to remind people again and again why you’re bringing in the technology.”

Efficiencies Come with an Increased Comfort Level.
Nurse at computerFor some nurses, an even greater fear is that the simple and transparent, if inefficient, information structure of a paper chart becomes opaque when reincarnated in electronic form. If you’re having trouble locating a test result in a paper chart, you simply leaf through every page; in an electronic health record, with its nonlinear structure, clinicians worry they could run circles around that test result without ever finding it.

“Clinicians are really making a leap of faith that the same kinds of information are being communicated” through a new electronic records system, says Claire McCarthy, Director of Change Management at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif. Or, as Cothron puts it, “As a nurse I’ve wondered: Do I have it all, am I missing any piece of the picture?”

Success Arrives when Clinical Insight Informs Technology.
Clinicians are the best advocates for their own usability requirements. They can, for example, insist that screens are configurable for individual patients, while key information is presented consistently throughout the system, Cothron says. Electronic dashboards can help nurses track all the requirements of a protocol in a unified view, says Dr. Jacobson, whether the patient is on an IV catheter, a ventilator or a complex regimen of medications.

Basic patient information such as allergies, fall risk and height and weight should be visible on the nurse’s screen at all times, says Cothron, perhaps on a static banner.

Screens can also be optimized to meet the specialized needs of nurses, therapists and other clinical professionals. “Our respiratory therapists suggested that to streamline their work, we modify the documentation flow sheets so that they could consolidate their entries in one area and not have to skip around,” says Ann Filz, RN, a floor nurse and designated super user at a medical center in Clackamas, Ore. “We’re trying to limit the number of clicks that a clinician has to make in a record.”

Proof of Patient Safety Brings Instant Gratification.
Perhaps the best way to bridge the culture gap is to demonstrate to clinicians that many aspects of automation improve patient safety. Bar-coding of medications is one innovation that does just that.

Nurse at computerReconciling the medications of a patient who is moving between units is complex and stressful for nurses, even when the transfer is within a hospital, Cothron says. “This scares nurses to death when they don’t know what the electronic record is going to look like when viewed from the other department.”

The solution? “We use bar-code scanning for medication,” says Filz. “So if a nurse had the wrong medication and scanned the patient’s wristband, the medication administration screen will open with the alert: ‘This medication has not been ordered for this patient.’ ”

As always, the perceived risks and clear wins of automation should be presented in tandem to clinicians, to show that a system implementation will yield a net gain for the patient. “There were concerns that our implementation might pose a risk, but in fact one of the big reasons to use electronic records is that they truly enhance patient safety,” says Filz.

Ultimately the culture clash can be tempered if technologists begin to understand the clinicians’ perspective, and if clinicians learn to appreciate how the IT implementation improves patient care, especially in the long run.

Says Dr. Wood: “When clinicians have experienced time after time that IT brings an increase in functionality or efficiency, even though there’s pain in the change, they’ll work with it.”


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Topics: external catheter for men, hospital errors, proactive patients, nursing

Gary Damkoehler on NBC's Game Changer with Gayle Guyardo

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Nov 26, 2012 11:33:00 AM

Check out this interview with our CEO, Gary Damkoehler that aired as part of NBC News Game Changer series on Thanksgiving Day.

The following is an interview with Gary from Positive Impact Magazine. It's got lots of great information!

Entrepreneur Promotes Healthy Bladder Management

Gary DamkoehlerWe sat down with BioDerm CEO, Gary Damkoehler to find out why he’s getting into the incontinence management business.

PIM: You’ve been involved in a number of healthcare organizations, including running JSA Healthcare for over 20 years. In fact, you retired in 2006, what made you come out of retirement and get involved with the incontinence management field?

DAMKOEHLER: I first became aware of the incontinence and wound care industry in 2005 when I first came across BioDerm and their new product, Men's Liberty. I've worked in healthcare for over 40 years, inspired by a feeling like there was something more I could be giving back to the world. I am blessed to have had so many opportunities to improve the lives of people all over the world.

I came back to work because I believe in this product. I know that the prevention of illness can improve people's lives and save money. I am appalled at the poor urinary management options available to men and women who have served their country honorably and who will forever live with the consequences of explosions, vehicle collisions and gunshots. Our service men and women deserve the absolute best.

When I first encountered Men's Liberty, I knew this could be a game changer for men with spinal cord injuries, prostate cancer and literally dozens of other illnesses. Incontinence is embarrassing; it's hard to talk about. But dealing with it is so important to people's quality of life.   I come to work each morning enthusiastic about the possibilities for the day ahead. We're re-writing the rules in healthcare for managing incontinence. It's a whole new world out there and we're leading the charge. That's pretty darn exciting if you ask me.

PIM: What makes this product so different, so much better for men?

DAMKOEHLER: There is literally nothing else out there like Men’s Liberty. It’s truly a product that changes people's lives. Nearly 1.5 million Men's Liberty units have been used without a single reportable adverse event caused by the device including UTI and skin injury. Compare that to other outdated managements devices like indwelling catheters, condom catheters or diapers which have astronomical infection rates that result in additional medications, hospitalizations and even death. There is, quite simply, no comparison. We are head and shoulders above the rest.

The most important features of Men's Liberty are:

Men's Libertya) It's completely external - There is nothing in Men's Liberty which goes inside the body. This eliminates one of the primary infection paths you find with indwelling catheters. As a completely non-invasive product, Men's Liberty is more comfortable, easier to apply, reduces the need for skilled nurses to manage incontinence and improves health outcomes.

b) It's made from skin friendly hydrocolloid - hydrocolloid has been used in wound care for decades. It is safe, skin friendly, latex free and hypoallergenic. Quite simply, it's better for people's skin. It reduces or eliminates skin tears, injuries all the while maintaining a secure seal for 24-48 hours.

c) It's covered by Medicare, most state Medicaids, VA/TriCare, Workers Compensation and most private insurances. Most of our customers can get a healthier product for little to nothing out of pocket which helps their bottom line.

PIM: You have mentioned prevention frequently as an overlooked component of healthcare – why is prevention so important you?

DAMKOEHLER: Too often, in my opinion, healthcare professionals focus on treating an illness. It’s almost as though the disease is the important bit, not the person. I have a fundamentally different view. When I led JSA Healthcare, I made health improvement a priority and we made it profitable too. We focused on preventative care and we saw patients the same day if they were sick. That meant that people got the treatment they needed and dramatically reduced the number of patients who needed emergency treatment later on. Reducing hospitalizations made people healthier and in the end, it saved us money too! They say prevention is better than cure, and they're right.

That's one of the reasons I am such a believer in Men’s Liberty. We have to break the cycle of recurring illnesses and focus on helping people lead a healthier, more active, more fulfilling life. It’s about dignity, independence and the chance for people to reach out for something better. Men’s Liberty is there to help the man with prostate cancer play with his grandkids without wearing a diaper, to help young veterans complete in adaptive sports competitions without having an accident and help the caregivers and loved ones do a little bit less heavy lifting.

PIM: In addition to your business investments, you are also a local philanthropist. Can you tell me a little bit about your other philanthropic projects?

DAMKOEHLER: I’ve been involved quite a few over the years but the one that has had the greatest impact on me has been Maiti Nepal. I worked in Nepal as part of USAID in the 1960s and fell completely in love with the country and the culture. In 2004, I became one of the primary donors supporting the charity, Maiti Nepal (http://www.maitinepal.org/), which rescues women and children sold into the sex trade. The charity rescues women and children and helps them to recover from their traumatic ordeal and gain independence. The charity provides a safe haven including counseling, education and training so that women can gain their independence. They also provide housing to these women until they can get back on their feet.

Around the same time I also started collecting Tibetan antiquities. There are so many amazing pieces of history that are being lost everyday and I am passionate about preserving them so that generations to come can learn from them. Many of these treasures are currently being housed in the Damkoehler Gallery at the Museum of Fine Art in downtown St Petersburg. I am also an active member of the board of the Museum of Fine Arts and Admiral Farragut Academy where I also support a scholarship program for underprivileged young people who can benefit from advanced educational opportunities.

PIM: What motivates you to give back?

DAMKOEHLER: For me, it all comes back to a central belief in the fundamental resilience of the human spirit. We can triumph over adversity, but sometimes we need a little help. Whether that's a trafficked children’s shelter in Nepal, a scholarship to attend a better school or a device that can make our veterans lives just a bit easier, it can all be a game changer in its own way.

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Topics: urinary management, bladder control, external catheter for men, Interesting Articles

6 Healthy Living Tips for Your Bladder from Men's Liberty

Posted by Sarah Woodward on Nov 16, 2012 10:56:00 AM

All week we’ve been talking about bladder health. Today is the last day of Bladder Health Week so we wanted to leave you with a couple of tips for keeping your bladder as healthy as possible! Some are obvious, others not so much! Do you have other tips you think people should know? Share your health tips in the comments section!

Tip #1:

Always, always, always drink enough water. Don’t know if you’re drinking enough water? A good hint is your urine – healthy urine is pale and watery. The darker it is, the more water you need to be drinking.Glass of water

Tip #2

There are lots of foods that help support a healthy bladder including: fruits & vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, fiber and proteins. You can also avoid foods that explicitly irritate your bladder such as caffeine, chocolate and especially acidic or spicy foods.

Tip #3

Urinate and clean yourself before and after sex. Bacteria can easily travel up into the urinary tract during sex, causing urinary tract infections. Urinating shortly after sex and wiping yourself has been shown to reduce the odds you will develop an infection. Urinary tract infections are more likely to occur after sex in women; but men can get urinary tract infections too and they can transmit pathogens to women as well. The groin is a major source of bacteria so men should also adopt good personal hygiene, including cleaning their groin area.

Man with UTI CartoonTip #4

Avoid alcohol and soda whenever possible as these can increase the frequency you need to urinate. This can exacerbate urge or stress incontinence and can disrupt your sleep.

Tip #5

Don’t strain to go to the bathroom. Don’t hold it when you don’t have to or force yourself to go when your body doesn’t want to. When travelling, don't try and hold it until the next exit on the highway when you can get off now. A recent study by Peter Snyder, Ph.D. and his research team at Lifespan showed that driving while trying to 'hold it' can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol! His research suggested that when people are dealing with a strong urge to urinate, their cognitive functions are impaired, similar to what you might experience after a sleepless night or a few too many pints at the pub. Getting to your destination safely is more important than arriving quickly. Take the time to stop when you need to.

No smoking signTip #6

DON’T SMOKE!!!! Smoking increases your risk for lots of types of cancer including Bladder Cancer. According to the Society of Urological Nurses of America (SUNA), “smokers are two to three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers, and men are three times more likely to be affected by bladder cancer than women.”


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Topics: urinary management, bladder control, external catheter for men, proactive patients, tips from Men's Liberty users

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