Estimates indicate that 1 to 3 million people in the U.S. develop pressure ulcers each year. According to the Joint Commission, more than 2.5 million patients in United States (US) acute care facilities suffer from pressure ulcers, and 60,000 die from pressure ulcer complications each year.
Pressure ulcers can reduce overall quality of life due to pain, treatments, and increased length of institutional stay, and may also contribute to premature mortality in some patients. Therefore, any intervention that may help to prevent pressure ulcers or to treat them once they occur is important to reduce the cost of pressure ulcer care and improve quality of life for affected individuals.
The burden of having a pressure ulcer is high, in physical, emotional and financial terms. Data from 2009 indicates that the cost of treating pressure ulcers may range from $9.3 to 16.0 billion annually.
AHRQ reported that pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations ranged from 13 to 14 days and cost $16, 755 to $20,430 compared to the average stay of 5 days and costs approximately $10,000. The Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) reports the cost of treating a pressure ulcer in acute care (as a secondary diagnosis) is $43,180.00 per hospital stay.
Contributing cost factors include increased length of stay due to pressure ulcer complications such as pain, infection, high tech support surfaces, and decreased functional ability. In addition to the financial cost of pressure ulcers, mortality rates are disturbing.
A recent AHRQ document reports 503,300 pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations in 2006 which included 45,500 hospital admissions in which patients had pressure ulcers as the primary diagnosis. Of these admissions, one in 25 admissions ended in death. Another 457,800 pressure ulcer-related hospital admissions noted pressure ulcer as the secondary diagnosis. Of these admissions, the death rate was one in eight.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.