Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Wounds that won’t heal can hurt patients’ quality of life

Woundcare may not be a “sexy” healthcare topic, but it certainly is relevant and important.

There are many causes of problem wounds, but most are either a result of diabetes and arterial disease, venous disease, or pressure due to immobilization.

A few statistics show the magnitude and seriousness these wounds pose in our community.

More than 20 million Americans have diabetes and 15% of diabetics will develop a problem wound at some point. Patients with diabetes have a 15-fold increase in amputation rate compared to non-diabetics.

Venous stasis ulcers affect 2.5 million Americans and there are 500,000 newly diagnosed venous ulcers each year. Pressure ulcers are the primary diagnosis in more than 50,000 hospital admissions a year and about one in 25 of these admissions result in death. Pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations are longer and more expensive than many other hospitalizations. It is estimated that a pressure ulcer-related hospital stay is almost twice as long and the cost more than twice as much compared to the average hospital stay.

These wounds are not only severely debilitating to our patients, but also place a huge strain on the dollars in our healthcare system. Studies have shown that woundcare treatment facilities have reduced amputation rates, increased healing rates, and reduced the length of hospital stays. Obviously the best solution to this problem is prevention and a key component to woundcare at the Backus Wound Care and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Center is providing education and an environment to avoid future wounds after healing has occurred.

If you already have a wound, our staff of certified woundcare specialists assess the wound and the factors that caused the wound, as well as factors that may keep the wound from healing.

After this evaluation, a specific plan is developed and implemented. Treatments can include topical treatments, wound debridement as needed, compression dressings, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy when indicated.

We also have onsite access to other services that can be vital in evaluating and treating wounds including radiology, rheumatology, nutritional, and diabetic care services.

For people who have wounds that won’t heal, sometimes life can lose its enjoyment because of pain, fear and a reduced ability to get around. But there is good news. Effective treatments can help heal wounds, and education and lifestyle changes can stop them from ever coming back again.

Mark Tramontozzi, MD, is board-certified by the American College of Certified Wound Care Specialists. The information in this column should not replace the advice of your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Dr. Tramontozzi or any of the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org

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