Better wound screening could cut costs

A visiting US expert says Australia has much to learn from the American experience.

A better process for assessing the risk of chronic wounds could ease a massive burden on the healthcare budget, according to international wound management expert Dr Barbara Braden.

Dr Braden told the Australian Wound Management Association’s (AWMA) National Conference in Perth that the US government had decided to increase screening for chronic wound risks after it identified chronic wounds were costing US$11 billion each year.

“The US Federal Government became involved with pressure ulcers when it saw how much the problem was costing them – which was tremendous,” said Dr Braden.

“Once they realised the cost to Medicare was so high, it was identified that most pressure ulcers are preventable if the right steps are followed.”

It is estimated that each of the pressure ulcer wounds in American hospitals adds an average of US$43,180 to the cost of care.

The screening measures introduced in the USA – including the Braden scale developed by Dr Braden – use internationally recognised processes that have dramatically reduced the instances of pressure ulcers.

Dr Braden’s remarks were welcomed by the Australian Wound Management Association.

The association’s president, Professor Michael Woodward said chronic wounds are a costly issue in Australia as well.

“Standardised screening systems such as the Braden Scale only require an hour of training for a practitioner and mean that many pressure ulcers can be prevented,” he said.

“Once Australian federal health policymakers realise the extent that chronic wounds are costing the health system we hope they will be compelled to introduce a coordinated training, prevention and treatment scheme for wound management.” 

Tags: aged-care, awma, pressure-ulcers, wound-care,

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