Wound care in the wake of the pandemic

Bernard Ross reports on a survey of experts and patients which sought views on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of tissue viability care. The survey also looked at the causes of non-adherence to treatments, the role of telemedicine and innovation, the emotional impact of living with unhealed leg venous ulcers, and the current state of wound care resources

Successful healthcare delivery relies on a patient’s ability to adhere to their prescribed treatment. Despite the fast pace of healthcare innovation over the last century, many care pathways remain afflicted by patient nonadherence – particularly for chronic diseases. Adherence to medication for chronic conditions is as low as 50 percent in high-income countries, and lower in poorer areas. Non-adherence contributes to at least 100,000 preventable deaths and $100 billion in preventable medical costs per year in the US alone.1

Wound care is no exception; many patients living with chronic wounds, such as venous leg ulcers (VLUs), struggle to adhere to treatment. Hard-to-heal and recurring wounds cause a significant negative impact on a patient’s quality of life and contribute to billions in healthcare costs. Leg ulcers alone cost the NHS almost £2 billion to treat every year.2 Tackling adherence to wound care can improve patient outcomes, relieve pressures on healthcare systems and reduce treatment costs.

A silent epidemic VLUs are the most prevalent type of leg ulcer, making up approximately 90 percent of all cases and affecting one in 500 adults in the UK.3 Although VLUs typically heal within three to four months, some take years while others never heal at all. Recurrence is also common, affecting up to 70 percent of patients, leaving many suffering with VLUs on an ongoing basis, requiring frequent care from wound specialists.4

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