For healthcare organizations, preventing new wounds and protecting existing ones has become a priority—one that significantly affects the bottom line.
Medicare will not pay for care associated with hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, surgical site infections, and injuries such as burns. And Medicare prohibits healthcare organizations to bill patients for these and other preventable conditions. Yet across all areas of patient care, healthcare professionals increasingly see arterial, venous, neuropathic, and pressure wounds.
Not only are these wounds costly to treat, but that cost to the patient’s quality of life can be even higher when wounds lead to pain, body image changes, patient and family stress, financial strain, and reduced functional mobility and independence.
The good news is, there are steps you can take to prevent wounds like these from occurring.
- Avoid transparent film dressings for skin tears in elderly patients. Instead, use hydrogel sheet and silicone-backed foam dressings, which optimize moisture balance during healing and don’t cause further skin tears when removed.
- Skip wet-to-dry dressings for debridement and dry wound maintenance. Use alternatives, such as dressings to maintain moisture balance and promote cellular and collagen synthesis (which improves wound healing), or occlusive dressings with or without antimicrobial agents (which prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections).
- Replace whirlpool therapy with pulsed lavage and suction to clean and debride wounds, which reduces their bacterial load more effectively.
- Explore the use of negative-pressure wound therapy along with other methods to promote wound healing, especially in cavity-shaped wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers after surgical debridement and Stage IV pressure ulcers.
According to Eileen Robinson, Director, Nursing Continuing Education at Elsevier/Mosby, “Healthcare practitioners in all disciplines and specialties must stay informed about the latest evidence-based practices, through multidisciplinary inservice or education programs, such as Wound Management. This will help achieve the goal of consistent wound management and optimum patient outcomes.”