EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (April 4, 2002) - Chronic pressure ulcers (bedsores) are significant health problems that reduce quality of life and may lead to infection, pain and death. It has been estimated that between 1 million and 3 million Americans are currently afflicted with pressure ulcers, representing $5 billion in healthcare expenditures annually, along with immeasurable suffering and frustration. In addition, more than 17,000 lawsuits related to pressure ulcers occur annually. Individual awards have been as high as $4 million.
However, research has found that noncontact normothermic wound therapy (NNWT - Warm-Up therapy) is likely to reduce costs to society and increase quality of life for at least 75 percent of patients with severe pressure ulcers (Stage III); and at least 81 percent of patients with the most severe cases (Stage IV). Randomized clinical trials have found that NNWT decreases the surface area of later-stage pressure ulcers by 2.5 fold over standard care. At these healing rates, NNWT could save $6,630 per patient and increase quality adjusted life years by 0.1 for suffers of Stage III ulcers as compared to standard care. For Stage IV ulcers, NNWT saves $15,216 per patient and increases quality adjusted life years by 0.14.
Although NNWT has a higher acquisition cost than traditional wound care products, the cost-effectiveness models used in this study concluded that NNWT both reduces costs to society and improves quality of life compared to standard care of pressure ulcers. The study pointed out that this result is primarily due to improved wound healing rates, which leads to improved health-related quality of life, utilization of fewer medical resources and fewer complications.
This study's conclusion that NNWT costs less and improves quality of life is unlike most cost-effectiveness analyses of new technologies that find that while a new treatment adds benefit, it costs more than traditional therapies. Medical interventions with a cost effectiveness of less than $50,000 per quality of life year are generally considered to represent acceptable value for the money. This treatment smashes that model.
The incidence of chronic ulcers is expected to increase dramatically in the future due to the increasing incidence of diabetes and other health-related disorders associated with developing chronic ulcers. Reducing the proportion of patients who develop pressure ulcers is receiving increased public health attention. Healthy People 2010 - the federal government's prevention agenda for the Nation - lays out reducing pressure ulcers in nursing home patients as one of their objectives.
Warm-Up therapy is the only noncontact normothermic wound therapy available today. The therapy is designed to assist the body's healing process by maintaining warmth and humidity in the wound area.
Augustine Medical, Inc., a privately held medical device company, develops products that provide innovative, practical solutions to common medical problems. Founded in 1987, the company pioneered the concept of perioperative temperature management using forced-air warming. The company manufactures the Bair Hugger warming system, the Ranger blood/fluid warming system and Warm-Up therapy. For more information on Augustine Medical, see www.augustinemedical.com.
Arizant Healthcare Inc. (successor to Augustine Medical, Inc.), 10393 West 70th Street, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. Tel: 952-947-1214; Fax: 952-947-1400.