Support Surfaces Standards Initiative


The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) is coordinating the development of a uniform terminology, test methods and reporting standards for support surfaces. The guidelines will provide an objective means for evaluating and comparing support surface characteristics. Test methods and reporting standards will improve the process of selection and procurement. Clinicians, patients and other users would benefit from having product information and test data presented in a consistent manner. In essence, standards will empower consumers. Standards will also serve as a product development guide for manufacturers and enhance quality assurance in the manufacturing process.

Support Surface Standards Initiative (S3I)

Founded in 2001 to fill the need for performance and reporting standards, the S3I was originally created as a three year project tasked with development of uniform terminology, test methods and reporting standards for support surfaces. With the recent affiliation with ANSI/RESNA, S3I becomes the official standards body for the United States. With this expanded role, the NPUAP has made S3I a continuing sub committee under the Research Committee with the charge to implement appropriate standards. Through S3I the NPUAP intends to improve industry understanding of the importance of the support surface body interface, and provide the tools necessary to improve the quality of life and the ultimate outcome for the bed bound individual.

Current Work Agenda of S3I

  • Test Development and Validation
  • Support Surface Immersion
  • Terms and Definitions
  • Heat and Water Vapor Characteristics of Support Surfaces
  • S3I, RESNA, ANSI affiliation as a Standards Body

Recent Accomplishments

NPUAP’s Support Surface Standards Initiative (S3I), is very pleased to announce the submission of the first Draft Standard for testing Support Surfaces to the American National Standards Institute / Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (ANSI/RESNA).  This test method joins the Terms and Definitions document already produced as “standard terms” for the industry.

Therapeutic support surfaces are an integral intervention for both the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers; however, the terms, definitions, and laboratory methods used to test support surface products have been vastly inconsistent for many years. This deficit was recognized by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP).

In 2001, the Board of Directors of the NPUAP founded a sub-group, the Support Surface Standards Initiative (S3I), in order to develop a support surface performance and reporting standard. Newly developed support surface terms and definitions were released in 2007 while standardized test methods were also being constructed. This poster, “Standardized Support Surface Testing: A New Model”, presented at the Symposium on Advanced Wound Care Spring 2012 presents data resulting from one of those standardized tests: the immersion test procedure. The study was sponsored by RecoverCare, L.L.C. that is located in Louisville, Kentucky.


Click here to purchase standards from ANSI

S3I Meetings

The next S3I meeting is being held May 20-21, 2016 at the Bakery Square University of Pittsburg facility.

S3I Participants: NPUAP expresses its heartfelt thanks to the companies and individuals that participate in the standards development process. Participation in the committee’s work often involves the use of personal vacation time, and a significant commitment of time and professional skills, freely donated to the cause by committee members.

Who can participate

The S3I is an open process so all interested parties are invited. The success of the initiative will depend on active participation of all stakeholder groups including consumers, clinicians, researchers, scientists, healthcare providers manufacturers, and policy makers.

To sign up for the initiative please click on this link.

The success of the Support Surface Standards Initiative (S3I) depends on active participation and representation of manufacturers, consumers, clinicians, researchers, healthcare providers, and policy makers.