Why is it so hard to do the right thing in wound care?

Wound Repair Regen. Mar-Apr 2010;18(2):154-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-475X.2010.00571.x. Epub 2010 Feb 16.


"Doing the right thing" in wound care is not an easy task. Studies suggest that 3 factors determine compliance with performing basic wound care from an evidence-based medicine perspective: complexity, cognitive effort, and the compensation system. Two models were explored to investigate compliance with basic wound care at hospital based wound centers: offloading of diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) and compression bandaging for venous leg ulcers. Using a very large wound-care registry it was determined that only 6% of DFU patients received the gold standard of care for offloading, i.e., total contact casting (TCC), but among those patients who received it, the average cost of treatment was half the cost of those who did not. Although inexpensive to administer, TCC is a relatively time-consuming procedure which is poorly reimbursed. Other DFU treatments such as bilaminate skin, are more costly but are reimbursed much more generously. Thus, the reimbursement system favors the use of more expensive therapies over more economical ones. In the case of venous leg ulcers (VLUs), only 17% of patients received adequate compression. Provision of adequate compression among VLU patients has been similarly hindered by inadequate reimbursement policy. Lack of familiarity with clinical practice guidelines increases the cognitive effort for clinicians. Improving the economic model to favor the provision of effective basic care, creating easier-to-use products, and making clinical practice guidelines available at the point of service may make it easier to "do the right thing(s)" in wound care.

MeSH terms

  • Bandages
  • Casts, Surgical / economics
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy*
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Leg Ulcer / therapy*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Registries
  • Reimbursement Mechanisms