Study objective: Every year, approximately 6.2 million hospital admissions through emergency departments (ED) involve elderly patients who are at risk of developing pressure ulcers. We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of pressure-redistribution foam mattresses on ED stretchers and beds for early prevention of pressure ulcers in elderly admitted ED patients.
Methods: Using a Markov model, we evaluated the incremental effectiveness (quality-adjusted life-days) and incremental cost (hospital and home care costs) between early prevention and current practice (with standard hospital mattresses) from a health care payer perspective during a 1-year time horizon.
Results: The projected incidence of ED-acquired pressure ulcers was 1.90% with current practice and 1.48% with early prevention, corresponding to a number needed to treat of 238 patients. The average upgrading cost from standard to pressure-redistribution mattresses was $0.30 per patient. Compared with current practice, early prevention was more effective, with 0.0015 quality-adjusted life-days gained, and less costly, with a mean cost saving of $32 per patient. If decisionmakers are willing to pay $50,000 per quality-adjusted life-year gained, early prevention was cost-effective even for short ED stay (ie, 1 hour), low hospital-acquired pressure ulcer risk (1% prevalence), and high unit price of pressure-redistribution mattresses ($3,775). Taking input uncertainty into account, early prevention was 81% likely to be cost-effective. Expected value-of-information estimates supported additional randomized controlled trials of pressure-redistribution mattresses to eliminate the remaining decision uncertainty.
Conclusion: The economic evidence supports early prevention with pressure-redistribution foam mattresses in the ED. Early prevention is likely to improve health for elderly patients and save hospital costs.
Copyright © 2011 American College of Emergency Physicians. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.