The literature identified indicates that both “low-tech” CLP devices and “high-tech” AP devices are more effective than standard hospital foam mattresses in preventing the development of pressure ulcers in high risk patients. Specific data about memory foam, bead filled mattresses, and static air mattresses were included within one of the included systematic reviews. There was no difference in effectiveness between static air mattresses and water mattresses or AP mattresses, and visco-elastic (memory) foam mattresses compared with standard foam mattresses. Alternative foam mattresses and bead beds were found to have a lower incidence of pressure ulcers compared with standard foam mattresses.
When comparing between AP overlays, AP mattress replacements, and standard hospital mattresses, the literature shows that AP overlays may be cost-effective for the prevention of pressure ulcers, whereas AP mattress replacements may be cost-effective for the treatment of superficial and severe pressure ulcers. Most guidelines recommend the use of high-specification foam mattresses for high risk patients of developing pressure ulcers.