Objective: To provide an estimate of the costs of treating pressure ulcers in the UK at August 2011 prices, as a means of highlighting the importance of pressure ulcer prevention.
Method: Resource use was derived from a bottom-up methodology, based on the daily resources required to deliver protocols of care reflecting good clinical practice, with prices reflecting costs to the health and social care system in the UK. This approach was used to estimate treatment costs per episode of care and per patient for ulcers of different severity and level of complications.
Results: The cost of treating a pressure ulcer varies from £1,214 (category 1) to £14,108 (category IV). Costs increase with ulcer severity because the time to heal is longer and the incidence of complications is higher in more severe cases.
Conclusion: Pressure ulcers represent a significant cost burden in the UK, both to patients and to health-care providers. Without concerted effort, this cost is likely to increase in the future as the population ages. The estimates reported here provide a basis for assessment of the cost-effectiveness of measures to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired ulcers.
Declaration of interest: Heron Evidence Development Ltd. was funded for this work by Mölnlycke Health Care (UK). The authors have no other conflicts of interest to declare.