Study advises hospitals to purchase special mattresses

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Study advises hospitals to purchase special mattresses
Study advises hospitals to purchase special mattresses
Many residents arrive in nursing homes with pressure sores they obtained while hospitalized. A new study offers a solution: Hospitals should invest in pressure-reduction mattresses for elderly patients in emergency departments.

University of Toronto researchers found that while the average cost of upgrading from standard to pressure-redistribution mattresses would be 30 cents more per patient, the corresponding reduction in pressure-ulcer incidence would produce savings of $32.

“Most pressure ulcers are preventable, which is why the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services considers them a ‘never event' and won't reimburse their treatment,” said Ba' Pham, lead author on the study and a senior research associate with the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative.

“Upgrading mattress quality would save money and improve quality of life for elderly patients in emergency departments,” he added.

In a study recently published in Annals of Emergency Medicine, investigators performed a cost-effectiveness analysis. They compared the projected incidence of pressure ulcers based on current practices in EDs with projected incidence after introduction of better mattresses and found early prevention was likely to be cost-effective 81% of the time.

They also conducted a small survey of Ontario EDs and found that only 12% of stretchers and beds have pressure-reduction mattresses. Each year in Ontario, about 240,000 elderly patients are admitted to EDs; the researchers' model suggested that providing better mattresses for these patients would prevent 1,005 pressure ulcers and save $7.2 million in healthcare costs.

Previously, researchers have found potential for cost reduction through pressure-redistribution mattresses in operating rooms, long-term care facilities and other settings. But Pham said the country lacks a cohesive and effective strategy.

“But I expect change will happen, because the burden of pressure ulcers is so high and investing in better mattresses is virtually a one-time change,” Pham added.

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