Hospitals that invest in pressure-redistribution foam mattresses in the emergency department could save money by reducing the frequency of pressure ulcers among elderly patients, according to a study published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.
“Hospitals could save $32 per patient by preventing pressure ulcers among the elderly,” researchers said. “Most pressure ulcers are preventable, which is why they are considered a ‘never event’ by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).”
CMS will not reimburse hospitals for the cost of treating hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. Patients can also be discharged from hospitals to nursing homes with pressure ulcers already developing.
Researchers calculated the average cost of upgrading to the foam mattresses at 30 cents per patient and found that early prevention was 82 percent likely to be cost-effective.
Each year, approximately 6.2 million hospital admissions through emergency departments involve elderly patients at risk of developing pressure ulcers, according to the researchers. Earlier studies have found that approximately 6 percent of patients admitted through the emergency department acquired pressure ulcers within 48 hours of admission.