Cost implications of pressure ulcer incidents revealed


There are four powerful financial reasons to reduce pressure ulcer incidents according to a new white paper released by Leaf Healthcare, a provider of wireless patient monitoring solutions.

It notes that according to the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), pressure ulcers cost the US healthcare system an estimated $9.1-$11.6 billion annually. In addition to direct treatment related costs, pressure ulcers also result in litigation, government penalties, and negatively impact hospital performance metrics.

On top of the financial implications, pressure ulcers also have a significant impact on patient morbidity, mortality, and quality of life. To further exacerbate the problem, as the population ages, the percent of patients at risk for developing pressure ulcers is growing, increasing the demand for early stage prevention.

"We are facing a pressure ulcer epidemic," said Dr Barrett Larson, Leaf’s chief medical officer. "One out of every 30 hospitalized patients will develop a pressure ulcer in the United States. Annual treatment costs for hospital acquired pressure ulcers are over $9 billion."

The white paper discusses four financial reasons to reduce pressure ulcers (PUs). First are direct costs: the cost of treating a pressure ulcer depends on its severity, with estimates generally ranging from $2,000-$20,000per ulcer.

A second reason for reducing pressure ulcers is the threat of litigation. According to the AHRQ, there are more than 17,000 pressure ulcer related lawsuits filed annually - second only to wrongful death lawsuits.

Thirdly, there is the risk of penalties: as mandated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the bottom quartile of hospitals with the highest overall hospital-acquired condition score – which includes hospital-acquired pressure ulcer rates - are penalized 1 percent of reimbursement for Medicare patients.

The fourth reason is the cost to patients. Each year, approximately 60,000 patients die as a direct result of pressure ulcers. Patients living with pressure ulcers suffer the burden of pain and decreased quality of life.

Recently released guidelines from the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) recommend repositioning all patients at risk of pressure ulcers unless medically contraindicated.

Leaf Healthcare, NPUAP, Dr Barrett Larson, AHRQ, US