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What You Can Do to Control Wound Care Costs

May 16, 2014

By Aletha Tippett MD

Welcome, Colton Mason, to the WoundSource blog forum. I enjoyed your opening blog on cost versus price and love your Healthcare Caffeine image. You are so correct, looking at overall cost is what is important, not necessarily the price of a product. And it reminds me how we need to look at the whole picture to determine the correct approach for controlling cost.

When a Wound Fails to Heal, What Should You Do?

It reminds me of many wounds I have consulted on over the years. Often times caregivers don’t adequately figure the cost of their treatments. I saw one man with a gangrenous foot that was being treated with charcoal dressings three times a day, but still had problems with odor and infection. The cost of three charcoal dressings a day mounts up quickly, and there were no results—not good. What they weren’t doing was cleansing the foot. In this case a simple bleach solution resolved most of the problems of odor and drainage, then maggots took care of the infection. Our total cost of treatment was $300 and saved about $900 a month for the life of the patient.

Another patient I saw had a large undermined sacral ulcer for over a year. It was being dressed with an alginate, covered with a foam dressing, and was supposed to be changed every two days. A reasonable approach, but the dressing was changed SIX times a day due to fecal incontinence. Why was the wound not healing? I asked her aide about when the patient was in a chair and found she was sliding down, thus shearing. Once we resolved the shearing, the wound healed in three months, using only a simple medicated gauze dressing with no top dressing. So lots of money was saved and the wound was healed, thus avoiding further cost.

Assessing the Price Versus the Cost of Wound Care Treatment

So how do we look at price versus cost in our two examples? In the first one, a vial of maggots was $100. That sounds like a high price, but our overall cost was much lower. In our second case, the price of our medicated gauze was $12 a day, which might seem like a high price, but was actually less than what had been used, and saved a lot of money overall.

I think the real issue is the same thing Mr. Mason was talking about—don't just look at the price of a product: look at how it is being used, for how long, and what results you are getting. Sometimes a higher priced item might be just the ticket to lower overall costs.

About The Author
Aletha Tippett MD is a family medicine and wound care expert, founder and president of the Hope of Healing Foundation®, family physician, and international speaker on wound care.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.