National Quality Performance Standards for Absorbent Products Published
September 5, 2013 (CHARLESTON, SC)— A paper, authored by NAFC Executive Director Dr. Nancy Muller and its Health Educator Elaine McInnis, summarizing NAFC’s recommended national quality performance standards for absorbent products has been published in the September 2013 issue of Ostomy Wound Management, an indexed, peer-reviewed journal.
The recommendations cover eight specific characteristics:
- Rewet rate – a measure of a product’s ability to withstand incontinent episodes between changes
- Rate of acquisition – a measure of the speed at which urine is drawn away from the skin
- Retention capacity – a measure of a product’s capacity to hold fluid
- Sizing options – ranging from youth and small adult to extra large and XX-large adult
- Safety – no components, including additives, that are listed in any federal regulatory agency as being considered “unsafe”
- Presence of a closure system – allowing re-openability
- Breathable zones – an acceptable minimum air flow in side “wings” of the product sufficient to release trapped body heat/gaseous body perspiration in the pelvic region
- Performance of elastics – giving evidence of fit and the functionality of containment of body waste, without sacrificing comfort
These recommendations are innovative because, despite the wide use of absorbent products to manage adult urinary and fecal incontinence, there were few performance standards from the user’s perspective to guide their manufacturing or purchase. There has also existed no mechanism for consistency among states providing coverage of such products in the case of Medicaid recipients, in particular, as Medicaid is a federal program that is administered separately by each individual state. In order to issue the recommendations, the National Association For Continence (NAFC) developed a set of minimum requirements to start the process of standardizing absorbent products, with the end goals of reducing wasteful costs and improving care. Without product standards previously, those purchasing the products, whether they were individuals or the government, did not know if they were receiving value for the money spent.
A council headed by NAFC and including representatives of all major absorbent manufacturers in the U.S., the non-wovens trade association, five state government agencies from all regions of the U.S., nursing, and family caregiving developed the recommendations following a well-established consensus methodology. The council focused on products provided to Medicaid Waiver recipients, as it has been reported that as many as three-fourths of those being cared for at home under such nursing home waivers likely have urinary incontinence, with half experiencing fecal incontinence as well.
The intent of this initiative was to catapult thinking and activity forward in the best interests of patients and their caregivers. The council is currently advocating for state governments and policymakers to adopt the standards and intends for them to be utilized nationwide.
An abstract and poster of the recommendations were both accepted into the program at the International Continence Society meeting held in Barcelona, Spain August 26th – 30th, 2013. The full text of the copyrighted paper can be found at the journal’s website, and the appendices detailing steps for performing the tests to measure quantifiable, product recommendations can be found at NAFC’s website.