A pressure ulcer represents a frequently encountered yet largely preventable, physical injury which can be associated with significant humanitarian and financial costs.
Costs associated with pressure ulcers
- Prevention and treatment initiatives
- Nurse and patient education programs
- Equipment provision
- Medicines, dressing and nutritional supplements.
- Increased length of stay.
- Back injury among nursing staff and care givers
- Containing and treating drug resistant infection in chronic wounds
Counting the Cost: The Value of Outcome Measurement
Cost minimization is a balance between providing effective prevention and treatment strategies, while containing the associated costs.
This is best achieved by ensuring that:
- Only effective therapeutic strategies are employed.
- Allocation of interventions is appropriate and timely.
- Outcomes are accurately measured, reviewed and acted upon.
These key steps are dependent upon a comprehensive set of skills including:
- Nurse education and assessment of patient/ client vulnerability.
- Equipment selection.
- Multidisciplinary team involvement.
- Comprehensive and accurate documentation.
- Patient/client and carer education and involvement.
- Clinical audit.
Without this latter and vital element of measurement, it is impossible to clearly define the value of employing a pressure ulcer program and therefore it is impossible to propose a cost-efficient strategy for continual improvement.
Given that the direct and indirect costs of pressure ulcer prevention and treatment strategies are high, it is appropriate to monitor a range of outcome measures, including:
- Prevalence and incidence of pressure ulcers.
- Severity of wounds.
- Protective and therapeutic strategies.
- Evidence of accurate, comprehensive and timely documentation.
- Level of nurse injury.
- Level of patient satisfaction.
Only when a comprehensive package of care is implemented and monitored over time is it possible to accurately report the value of the investment in prevention and treatment strategies.