Costs and outcomes in evaluating management of unhealed surgical wounds in the community in clinical practice in the UK: a cohort study.

OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate the patient pathways and associated health outcomes, resource use and corresponding costs attributable to managing unhealed surgical wounds in clinical practice, from initial presentation in the community in the UK.

METHODS:
This was a retrospective cohort analysis of the records of 707 patients in The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database whose wound failed to heal within 4 weeks of their surgery. Patients’ characteristics, wound-related health outcomes and healthcare resource use were quantified, and the total National Health Service (NHS) cost of patient management was estimated at 2015/2016 prices.

RESULTS:
Inconsistent terminology was used in describing the wounds. 83% of all wounds healed within 12 months from onset of community management, ranging from 86% to 74% of wounds arising from planned and emergency procedures, respectively. Mean time to healing was 4 months per patient. Patients were predominantly managed in the community by nurses and only around a half of all patients who still had a wound at 3 months were recorded as having had a follow-up visit with their surgeon. Up to 68% of all wounds may have been clinically infected at the time of presentation, and 23% of patients subsequently developed a putative wound infection a mean 4 months after initial presentation. Mean NHS cost of wound care over 12 months was £7300 per wound, ranging from £6000 to £13 700 per healed and unhealed wound, respectively. Additionally, the mean NHS cost of managing a wound without any evidence of infection was ~£2000 and the conflated cost of managing a wound with a putative infection ranged from £5000 to £11 200.

CONCLUSION:
Surgeons are unlikely to be fully aware of the problems surrounding unhealed surgical wounds once patients are discharged into the community, due to inconsistent recording in patients’ records coupled with the low rate of follow-up appointments. These findings offer the best evidence available with which to inform policy and budgetary decisions pertaining to managing unhealed surgical wounds in the community.

Simplified Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Device for Application in Low-Resource Settings.

Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) provides proven wound healing benefits and is often a desirable wound treatment methodology. Unfortunately, NPWT devices are not widely available in low-resource settings. To overcome the identified NPWT barriers, a simplified NPWT (sNPWT) system was designed and iteratively improved during field-based testing. The sNPWT technology, our device design iterations, and the design-based results of our field tests are described in this article. The sNPWT system includes a bellows hand pump, an occlusive drape, and a tube with tube connectors, connecting the drape to the pump. The most critical property of an sNPWT system is that it must be airtight. The details of the design iterations, which are needed to achieve an occlusive system, are explained. During the design process, the sNPWT system was tested during the earthquake relief in Haiti. This testing found that a liquid sealant was necessary to seal the drape to the periwound skin. A study conducted in Rwanda verified that a liquid latex sealant was safe to use, and that the tube connector must be connected to the drape with an airtight method during the manufacturing process. This work has shown that sNPWT is feasible in low-resource settings. Since the completion of the clinical testing, the design has been further evolved, and the developers are working with contract manufacturers to produce the final design and preparing for regulatory approval applications.