November 27, 2013
Despite the overwhelming impact that wounds have on healthcare systems, many people are still unaware of the risks for developing wounds when entering a healthcare setting. In fact, 27-50 percent of acute hospital beds are likely to be occupied on any day by patients with a wound.[i] Many of these patients will be at high risk of infection, which can result in extended hospital stays and for some, amputation. Yet, patients can be better protected against such risks by instituting evidenced based guidelines in healthcare settings that include multidisciplinary approaches to wound care treatment.
It is why I wish to congratulate policymakers in the European Parliament for recently adopting Mr. Oreste Rossi’s Own-initiative report on patient safety including the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections. In his report, Mr. Rossi urged Member States to implement (or increase) measures to support multidisciplinary wound care as part of national patient safety programmes. To date, too few Member States have prioritised multidisciplinary wound care and the consequences are startling – two to four percent of European healthcare budgets spent on wound care alone, as one problematic wound can cost anywhere between 6.650 – 10.000€.[ii] Wounds impact roughly 4 million Europeans every year, more than cancer (3,9 mill), cerebrovascular disease (3,9 mill), and diabetes (2 mill.).[iii]
The report also encourages hospitals and care homes to focus on the observing patients particularly on the assessment of pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers are a type of wound which is unfortunately very common in long term care facilities. Such wounds are the result of damage to the skin from limited movement and can expand into the muscle, tendon and bone, threatening the life of the patient and significantly extending hospital stays and delaying recovery.
The inclusion of multidisciplinary wound care within the report is a sign that the EU can and should play a role in facilitating multidisciplinary wound care in Member States. Though the report is non-binding, the European Parliament has clearly outlined the priority it believes should be given to patient safety across the EU and the European Commission is listening. It will soon launch a public consultation on patient safety as well as a Eurobarometer to gauge citizens’ views on patient safety and quality of care in EU health systems.
I strongly believe that the ongoing discussions at EU level on patient safety must continue to include multidisciplinary wound care. With the support of EU policymakers, we can achieve a reduction in preventable wounds across Europe, increasing quality of life for four million patients every year.
Chair, Eucomed Advanced Wound Care Sector Group
[i] Posnett J, et al., The resource impact of wounds on healthcare providers in Europe. Journal of Wound Care, 2009. 18(4): pp. 154-161.
[ii] Outcomes in controlled and comparative studies on non-healing wounds – recommendations to improve the quality of evidence in wound management; Gottrup, Finn; Apelqvist, Jan; Price Patricia. Journal of Wound care, Vol 19, No 6, June 2010, pp. 239-268
[iii] War on wounds; Zena Moore. Public Science review: Europe, issue 24, 2012