Low-tech approaches to pressure ulcers and incontinence care deliver big savings for LTC facilities, researchers say

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Low-tech treatments and prevention efforts for pressure ulcers — such as pressure-reduction foam mattresses and foam cleansers — could lower costs for long-term care facilities, a Canadian study has found. “Something relatively easy” that will have “a relatively large impact,” is how one principal investigators characterized it.

In phone surveys with directors of care from 26 of Ontario's 89 LTC facilities, researchers found that pressure-reduction foam mattresses were cost effective 82% of the time (compared to standard mattresses). The low-tech approach brought an approximate savings of $115 per resident. Additionally, using foam cleansers instead of soap and water for incontinence care was cost effective 94% of the time. This adds up to a savings of $179 per resident, according to study findings. Researchers were led by doctoral student Ba' Pham from the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative.

According to a separate study cited by Pham, 5% to 10% of all nursing home residents suffer from pressure ulcers, for an estimated economic burden on par with that of diabetes. "These results provide specific evidence to support practice guidelines, which recommend reducing risk factors and improving skin health to prevent pressure ulcers," said Pham. "We encourage all providers of long-term care to consider these changes."

The study was published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

 

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