Nine studies reported on the cost of HAPIs.3,4,8–14 All of those studies originated from economically developed regions (Europe,4,8,11,12 North America,3,9,13 Australia10,14), but heterogeneous approaches were taken to estimate and report costs. Notwithstanding these limitations, it was clear that the costs of HAPIs reported were stage-dependent (ie, higher with increasing grade) and high in total.3,4 As indicated by Chan et al,3 the net cost of a Stage II HAPI was Can $44,000 and Can $90,000 for a Stage IV HAPI from 2002 to 2006.
Ten studies provided economic evaluations (5 cost-effectiveness, 3 cost-benefit, 2 both) of approaches to the prevention of PIs.15–24 Favorable outcomes from a bundle of PI prevention strategies were found in 2 studies that based cost estimates on statistical modeling using data from the literature.15,16 A combination of risk assessment, nutritional support, and repositioning resulted in an estimated net savings of Can $55.12 per patient per day, a 9.3% decrease in PI incidence, and a 0.47% reduction in deaths in 2013.15 In the second study, pressure redistribution surfaces, nutritional support, repositioning, and moisture/incontinence control resulted in estimated net savings of Can $3450.03 per hospitalization and a 1.90 increase in quality-adjusted life-years.16
Economic evaluations of single approaches also concluded that implementation of the intervention would result in cost savings. Pressure redistribution surfaces were the modality most commonly studied. These studies typically compared various types of pressure redistribution surfaces with an active control.17–20 In patients with spinal cord injuries requiring assistance with repositioning, a continuous computer-regulated mattress was found to be cost-effective if nurses were not able to frequently reposition patients.17
Mattress overlays were reported to be a cost-effective intervention compared with replacing mattresses,17 whereas another study indicated that alternating pressure mattresses offered an economic advantage compared with alternating pressure overlays.19 An inflated static overlay was found to be less costly and as effective as either a microfluid static overlay or a low-air-loss dynamic mattress with pulsation.19 Pressure redistribution surfaces may be less costly than frequent repositioning programs (Can $23 vs $42 mean cost of prevention per day per patient, respectively).21 Other single approaches to prevent PIs (ie, dressings and nutritional support) also showed apparent financial benefits.22–24 Some of these studies used statistical modeling for their economic evaluations,18,19 whereas others were at least partially based on collected data.17,20,21 The different methods used and the lack of a standard comparator made it impossible to compare across studies.
One of the identified systematic reviews examined the cost of preventing and treating PIs,25 whereas the other assessed economic evaluations embedded in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions to prevent or treat PIs.26 Both concluded that the cost of treating PIs was substantially higher than preventing them, but noted marked heterogeneity in the methods used in the published studies. For example, Demarre et al25 commented on the differences in study design, perspective taken, cost components considered, and outcomes examined in the available studies. Both suggested standardizing PI economic studies to improve both quality and usability. A number of recommendations, such as enhancing quality of data collection and reporting, were suggested by Demarre et al25 to improve study design and methods.
The available evidence validates that PIs are costly and prevention is preferable to treating them once they occur. Beyond that observation, few conclusions can be made. Ideally, economic evaluations should be done concurrently with efficacy trials,3 but unfortunately there are few high-quality RCTs of interventions to either prevent or manage PIs.27 A common challenge to conducting high-quality RCTs as indicated by Palfreyman and Stone26 is the cost of these studies, noting that medical devices, unlike pharmaceuticals, do not require RCTs before they are approved for marketing. In addition, the relevance of results and internal validity of the economic evaluations being done need improvement.28,29 The costs collected and used in studies to date have been inconsistent.25,26 Although direct costs associated with the intervention and the care of patients, such as nursing care and consumables, are commonly included,15–18,20–23 some studies did not specifically identify cost components19 or included only the costs of the intervention.24 One included the cost of care outside the hospital,15 and another study incorporated unforeseen costs but did not specify them.16 Cost components of the intervention, such as cleaning and maintenance costs, were not consistently collected.18 What costs are included affects the outcomes of economic evaluations.25 This variability makes it impossible to accurately compare the cost-effectiveness of different PI prevention approaches.
Another challenge is that a number of the interventions for prevention are complex in nature and involve multiple components, such as training, nursing care, nutritional support, and/or use of technology. This complexity, especially if interventions are individually tailored to deal with identified risk factors, will raise challenges in their economic evaluation.
The authors acknowledge a number of limitations to their narrative review. Their focus was limited to economic evaluations performed to date on the prevention of PI in acute care, not on what approach should be taken to prevent PIs. The authors acknowledge that multicomponent interventions implemented by interdisciplinary teams are viewed as the standard of practice in the prevention in PIs.30,31 Comparing different preventive strategies, especially in isolation, across settings in various patient populations would be counter to the concept of customizing PI prevention interventions. Nearly all of the economic evaluations of PI prevention strategies come from more economically developed nations. One of the few available reports dealing with economically developing nations was a literature review of the prevalence, risks, costs, and solutions to PIs among spinal cord injury patients that did not meet the authors’ inclusion criteria.32 Although the prevalence was high, the authors had difficulty obtaining accurate information, especially economic data. One of few published studies from a less economically developed region dealt with a cardiac hospital in Bangalore, India.33 A quality improvement strategy that included raising awareness, educating staff, improving documentation and communication, and implementing preventive practices, including those in operating rooms, led to a reduction in prevalence from 6% to zero over a 5-month period.33 No economic evaluation was done. Differences in patient populations (and inherent risk for PIs), available resources, labor costs, and other factors emphasize the need for caution in extrapolating results from one setting or country to another.
There are emerging approaches to the prevention of PIs that have not been studied from a cost perspective and may offer advantages. An example of this was continuous monitoring with feedback of interface pressure distribution. This type of technology monitors the interface pressure of patients and could alert caregivers on the need for repositioning a patient and guide how it is done.34–36
Based on the authors’ review of the literature, a number of recommendations (Table 3)7,25,26,37 to improve on the economic evaluations of approaches to prevent HAPIs were made. The authors believe this information is needed to support rational decisions about PI prevention.
In summary, HAPIs are a common and costly challenge for healthcare systems. Various PI prevention approaches, including pressure redistribution mattresses or overlays, specialized bandages, and nutrition, whether used as single interventions or in a combined manner, have been reported to be cost-effective in at least some studies. However, methodologic limitations including study design heterogeneity, differences in cost components, and intervention complexity undermine our ability to make firm conclusions about the extent of their cost-effectiveness. In addition, the lack of a common methodology prevents the confirmation of promising results found in 1 study or comparing approaches and/or results across studies. The authors suggest that economic evaluation of strategies to prevent HAPIs should be done concurrently with RCTs and conducted in less, as well as more, economically developed nations.
In addition, future economic evaluations of approaches to the prevention of PIs should use explicit, standardized, and appropriate methodology that will allow comparisons of the consequences of alternative courses of action.38
- To date, the economic evaluations of PI prevention strategies used as a single or combined intervention are methodologically limited.
- A lack of an explicit and standardized approach in conducting economic evaluations makes it difficult to compare approaches and results across studies. Few evidence-based conclusions can be made from the current literature.
- Standardized and methodologically sound economic evaluations of strategies to prevent HAPIs should be conducted concurrently with efficacy trials.
- Future economic evaluations of PI prevention strategies should allow for comparisons of alternative courses of action in terms of the cost of preventing PIs.
1. Sullivan N, Schoelles KM. Preventing in-facility pressure ulcers as a patient safety strategy: a systematic review. Ann Intern Med 2013;158(5 Pt 2):410–6.
2. Woodbury MG, Houghton PE. Prevalence of pressure ulcers in Canadian healthcare settings. Ostomy Wound Manage 2004;50(10):17.
3. Chan B, Ieraci L, Mitsakakis N, Pham B, Krahn M. Net costs of hospital-acquired and pre-admission PUs among older people hospitalised in Ontario. J Wound Care 2013;22:341–6.
4. Bennett G, Dealey C, Posnett J. The cost of pressure ulcers in the UK. Age Ageing 2004;33:230–5.
5. Markova A, Mostow EN. US skin disease assessment: ulcer and wound care. Dermatol Clin 2012;30(1):107–11.
6. McInnes E, Jammali-Blasi A, Bell-Syer SE, Dumville JC, Cullum N. Support surfaces for pressure ulcer prevention. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011;(4):CD001735.
7. Husereau D, Drummond M, Petrou S, et al. Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation
Reporting Standards (CHEERS) statement. BMJ 2013;346:f1049.
8. Assadian O, Oswald JS, Leisten R, Hinz P, Daeschlein G, Kramer A. Management of leg and pressure ulcer in hospitalized patients: direct costs are lower than expected. GMS Krankenhhyq Interdiszip 2011;6(1):1–7.
9. Kerstein M, Gemmen E, van Rijswijk L, Lyder CH, Philips T, Xakellis G, et al. Cost and cost effectiveness of venous and pressure ulcer protocols of care. Dis Management and Health Outcomes 2001;9:651–63.
10. Graves N, Birrell F, Whitby M. Modeling the economic losses from pressure ulcers among hospitalized patients in Australia. Wound Repair Regen 2005;13:462–7.
11. Silva AJ, Pereira SM, Rodrigues A, et al. Economic cost of treating pressure ulcers: a theoretical approach. Rev Esc Enferm USP 2013;47:967–72.
12. Filius A, Damen THC, Schuiger-Maaskant KP, Polinder S, Hovius SER, Walbeehm ET. Cost analysis of surgically treated pressure sores Stage III and IV. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg 2013;66:1580–6.
13. Brem H, Maggi J, Nierman D, et al. High cost of Stage IV pressure ulcers. Am J Surg 2010;200:473–7.
14. Banks MD, Graves N, Bauer JD, Ash S. The costs arising from pressure ulcers attributable to malnutrition. Clin Nutr 2010;29:180–6.
15. Mathiesen AS, Nørgaard K, Andersen MF, Møller KM, Ehlers LH. Are labour-intensive efforts to prevent pressure ulcers cost-effective? J Med Econ 2013;16:1238–45.
16. Padula WV, Mishra MK, Makic MB, Sullivan PW. Improving the quality of pressure ulcer care with prevention: a cost-effectiveness analysis. Medical Care 2011;49:385–92.
17. Catz A, Zifroni A, Philo O. Economic assessment of pressure sore prevention using a computerized mattress system in patients with spinal cord injury. Disabil Rehabil 2005;27:1315–9.
18. Fleurence RL. Cost-effectiveness of pressure-relieving devices for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers. Int J Technol Assess Health Care 2005;21:334–41.
19. Iglesias C, Nixon J, Cranny G, et al. Pressure relieving support surfaces (PRESSURE) trial: cost effectiveness analysis. BMJ 2006;332:1416.
20. Vermette S, Reeves I, Lemaire J. Cost effectiveness of an air-inflated static overlay for pressure ulcer prevention: a randomized, controlled trial [provisional abstract]. Wounds 2012;24:207–14.
21. Schuurman JP, Schoonhoven L, Defloor T, van Engelshoven I, van Ramshorst B, Buskens E. Economic evaluation
of pressure ulcer care: a cost minimization analysis of preventive strategies. Nurs Econ 2009;27:390–400, 415.
22. Banks MD, Graves N, Bauer JD, Ash S. Cost effectiveness of nutrition support in the prevention of pressure ulcer in hospitals. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67(1):42–6.
23. Torra I Bou J-E, Herrero E, Hernández E, et al. Preventing pressure ulcers on the heel: a Canadian cost study. Dermatol Nurs 2009;21:268–72.
24. Santamaria N, Santamaria H. An estimate of the potential budget impact of using prophylactic dressings to prevent hospital-acquired PUs in Australia. J Wound Care 2014;23:583–9.
25. Demarre L, van Lancker A, van Hecke A, et al. The cost of prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers: a systematic review. Int J Nurs Stud 2015; 52:1754–74.
26. Palfreyman SJ, Stone PW. A systematic review of economic evaluations assessing interventions aimed at preventing or treating pressure ulcers. Int J Nurs Stud 2015;52:769–88.
27. Clancy MJ. Pressure redistribution devices: what works, at what cost and what’s next? J Tissue Viability 2013;22(3):57–62.
28. Baltussen R, Ament A, Leidl R. Making cost assessments based on RCTs more useful to decision-makers. Health Policy 1996;37:163–83.
29. Ramsey S, Willke R, Briggs A, Brown R, Buxton M, Chawla A, et al. Good research practices for cost-effectiveness analysis alongside clinical trials: the ISPOR RCT-CEA Task Force report. Value Health 2005;8:521–33.
30. National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, Pan Pacific Pressure Injury Alliance. Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers: Clinical Practice Guideline. Washington, DC: National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel; 2014.
31. Qaseem A, Mir TP, Starkey M, Denberg TD; Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Risk assessment and prevention of pressure ulcers: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med 2015;162:359–69.
32. Zakrasek EC, Creasey G, Crew JD. Pressure ulcers in people with spinal cord injury in developing nations. Spinal Cord 2015;53(1):7–13.
33. Paul R, McCutcheon SP, Tregarthen JP, Denend LT, Zenios SA. Sustaining pressure ulcer best practices in a high-volume cardiac care environment. Am J Nurs 2014;114(8):11.
34. Du H, Cork R. XSENSOR technology. A pressure imaging overview. Sensor Rev 2007;27(1):24–8.
35. Sakai K, Sanada H, Matsui N, Nakagami G, Sugama J, Komiyama C, et al. Continuous monitoring of interface pressure distribution in intensive care patients for pressure ulcer prevention. J Adv Nurs 2009;65:809–17.
36. Yip M HD, Winokur E, Balderrama AG, Sheridan R, Ma H. A flexible pressure monitoring system for pressure ulcer prevention. Presented at the 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS; Minneapolis, Minnesota; September 2-6, 2009.
37. Cano A, Anglade D, Stamp H, et al. Improving outcomes by implementing a pressure ulcer prevention program (PUPP): going beyond the basics. Healthcare (Basel) 2015;3:574–85.
38. Drummond MF, Sculpher MJ, Torrance GW, O’Brien BJ, Stoddart GL. Methods for the Economic Evaluation
of Health Care Programmes. 3rd ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2005.
Keywords:Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
economic evaluation; hospital-acquired pressure injuries; prevention strategies; treatment costs