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Reasons not to use rib belts?


Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

I presume the risk for atelectasis, but otherwise, have rib belts gone "out of style" for some reason? Elderly lady friend broke three ribs and was told by her doc "we don't use those anymore." They are readily available, but is there something I'm missing? Thanks :).

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 28 years experience.

I've worked trauma for a long time and we've never used rib belts.

I think you presume correctly. It's easier to get a painless deep breath without it.

Also, they don't promote healing any quicker, nor hold the ribs in place.

Marie_LPN, RN, LPN, RN

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

I've been told that it can encourage the ribs to "float" inward, causing a punctured lung. Is this right?

We still use them on occasion. Patients seem to like them. I have heard the argument against their use, but I haven't seen any scientific studies.

Nurse Ratched, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

Thanks for the input, everyone :). She has used them in the past without difficulty, and seemed to get immediate relief from fairly significant discomfort upon placement (as she is a friend, not a patient, I picked one up for her from the local medical supply store at her request, and we had a discussion about the potential risks.) Is of very sound mind to do her IS-type deep-breathing. Fortunately she did also call her doc and inquire about pain meds that wouldn't make her loopy, and was well-received. No pneumothorax.

(It does occur to me that there should be some sort of national Grandma database of people in need of looking in on. Hubby's gram is several states away and could use someone. This lady's family is all out of town and I enjoy chatting with her, dropping by groceries, etc.)

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