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
  • Surgery
  • Medicines, dressing and nutritional supplements.
  • Increased length of stay.
  • Litigation.
  • 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.

Outcome Measure

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.