Several years ago, my aging aunt developed a pressure ulcer – what most people would call a “bed sore.” Despite medical care, it took more than a year for the sore to finally heal, and I know that the skin loss from a pressure ulcer can never fully return. I saw firsthand the personal toll that pressure ulcers can have on a loved one. But as a healthcare executive, I also know that preventable conditions such as pressure ulcers have tremendous costs for our healthcare system as a whole. Nationwide, costs associated with pressure ulcer treatment exceed $1.3 billion.
With our population aging, NJHA made a commitment several years ago to address the issue of pressure ulcers. We brought together more than 125 hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities to work together in an intensive two-year quality “collaborative” to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers. The results were astounding: Our participating facilities cut pressure ulcer incidence by 70 percent, and our project was featured in conferences from Oxford, England, to Toronto, Canada, to points all across the United States. We’ve since expanded the effort to many more facilities.
Now NJHA and its affiliate, Healthcare Business Solutions, has entered a new realm in our fight against pressure ulcers. We have teamed with industry experts Dr. Elizabeth Ayello, a consultant and past chair of the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, and Dr. Jeffrey Levine, a geriatric specialist at the St. Vincent Hospital Wound Care Center in Manhattan, to produce and publish the Pocket Guide to Pressure Ulcers
. It’s a bedside reference tool to help healthcare providers classify and document pressure ulcers. We’re hoping it will go a long way in further reducing the occurrence of these preventable skin breakdowns. I invite you to visit our new Web site, www.nopressureulcers.com
, to learn more.
Last time I wrote in this space, I spoke about an effort many of our hospitals are involved in to reduce rising healthcare costs. This is another great example of hospitals and other healthcare facilities working hard to improve patient care and reduce costs all at the same time. Another win-win situation.