Ask the Treatment Expert about ... dressing expenses

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Jeri Lundgren, RN, BSN, PHN, CWS, CWCN, CPT
Jeri Lundgren, RN, BSN, PHN, CWS, CWCN, CPT

Our number of wounds has not changed, yet our wound care dressing expenses have gone up. How can I get them under control?

This expenditure ordinarily increases because staff members order products without checking to see whether they, or equivalents, are already in stock. Control this by first inventorying the facility's current products and then organizing them by product categories.

For example, have a bin for foams, hydrocolloids, calcium alginates, etc. Ensure you look in all treatment carts and supply rooms. Check expiration dates. Remove expired products from your inventory, though you might want to use them for training purposes.

You will probably find you have multiple name-brand products within the same category. This is a good time to work with your nurses to find out which products perform the best.

You want to balance ease of application, ability to stay on for the duration needed, and good outcomes.

Then create a formulary, which should guide nurses on when and how to use the products. It should also list equivalent products in case a physician orders another name brand. Nurses can cross- reference the ordered product to what is on your formulary and contact the physician to convert the product to formulary.

Also, work with your medical supply distributor. Most can help you lock your formulary and send out a notification for review and approval if something is ordered off-formulary.

Provide your product formulary to the physicians, practitioners and wound clinics. Whenever possible, have them write their orders by product category instead of name brand. This allows you not only to use your preferred name- brand product, but also to use up your current supply of products or change product lines without having to change the physician orders.

Please send your wound treatment-related questions to “Ask the Expert” at ltcnews@mcknights.com.