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How do you use sequential compression devices?

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Health care personnel use sequential compression devices after surgery by fitting them around the legs of patients and attaching them to a machine that rhythmically pumps air through the sleeves, reports Drugs.com. The devices prevent blood clots by simulating the actions of muscles to enable natural blood flow. Nurses or other caregivers periodically inspect the patients' skin and remove the sleeves when patients need to use the bathroom, bathe or walk.

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Physicians evaluate patients for their propensity for deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot formation, when they arrive at a hospital for surgery, explains American Nurse Today. If risk is moderately high, sequential compression device therapy may begin shortly after arrival and continue until the patients regain mobility. Specific decisions physicians make include whether to apply devices to one or both legs, whether they should be knee-length or thigh-length and how long to continue the therapy.

Once sequential compression device therapy commences, caregivers remove the devices every eight hours to check for skin pallor, paralysis, pain and other abnormalities, according to American Nurse Today. Patients receive instructions to not remove the devices themselves but call a nurse if they experience unusual discomfort or need to relieve themselves. To ensure effective therapy, caregivers must measure sleeve sizes correctly and address patient concerns about discomfort by using the pump cooling system if the patient is sweating or applying cornstarch to relieve itching.

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