The Truth About TED Stockings (it might not be what you think)

Photo - TEDs for bedsAnyone with access to the Internet has most likely heard of TED Talks – those powerful but short talks covering the subjects of technology, entertainment and design. But those of us in wound care are way more familiar with another kind of TED, as in … TED stockings.

You and your ambulatory patients know all about these “sporty white stockings,” as they’re sometimes described.  And while they might not get as much attention online as the other TED variety, they are certainly quite popular among physicians, who prescribe them on a regular basis. But do you know what their true purpose and benefits are?

The Truth

We’re sure you’re familiar with that designated area on a patient’s treatment sheet to sign when you put TED stockings on them in the morning, right? And then there’s another spot to sign when the stockings are taken off at bedtime. But guess what? While the stockings are prescribed for a variety of reasons, most clinicians are shocked to hear that they are not actually designed to treat the edema of venous disease.  They simply do not provide enough compression to effectively treat that condition.  So, why are they prescribed?

The Purpose

According to the manufacturer’s instructions, TED stockings are anti-embolism devices designed to prevent DVT’s in patients who are non-ambulatory.  The directions actually tell us to put them on while the patient is in bed. As in … when they go to sleep. At night. Wait, what? So putting them on in the morning and removing them at night (which is what most orders require) is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.

Putting on TED stockings in the morning and removing them at night is the opposite of what we should be doing.Click To Tweet

The Dilemma

This begs the question: is it important to use products for the indications listed on the product insert?  From both a patient safety and legal standpoint, the answer is, yes!  You are legally responsible for assuring that products are used according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Now some might argue that no harm will come to the patient if the stockings are used incorrectly as described above.  But this brings us back to the reason why they were ordered in the first place.  If they were ordered to prevent DVTs and they are incorrectly removed at night, then major harm could result in the form of an embolism.  If they are ordered to treat the edema of venous disease, then they will prove ineffective, and the patient’s condition will remain untreated.

The Solution

No matter what way you look at this, we need to be aware of the true purpose of TED stockings, as well as the proper way to use them in order to help our patients in the best way we can.  This is why the phrase, “TEDs are for Beds,” has become widely used as a way to remind us of their proper use. They should be worn at bedtime. And that’s the simple truth.

Can You Relate?

We really want to know about your personal experiences with TED stockings. Do you see them ordered and used correctly or incorrectly in your care setting?  If they have not been prescribed according to manufacturer directions, what steps have you taken to correct this situation?  Were your efforts met with resistance? Please describe your experience and leave your comments below.




What do you think?


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