Surgical wound dehiscence in an Australian community nursing service: Time and cost to healing
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Objective: Surgical wound dehiscence (SWD) increases the length of hospital stay and impacts on patient wellbeing and health-care costs. Globally, the health-care costs associated with SWD are poorly reported and those reported are frequently associated with surgical site infection (SSI), rather than dehiscence of non-microbial cause. This retrospective study describes and reports on the costs and time to healing associated with a number of surgical patients who were referred to a community nursing service for treatment of an SWD following discharge from a metropolitan hospital, in Perth, Western Australia. Method: Descriptive statistical analysis was carried out to describe the patient, wound and treatment characteristics. A costing analysis was conducted to investigate the cost of healing these wounds. Results: Among the 70 patients referred with a SWD, 55% were treated for an infected wound dehiscence which was a significant factor (p=0.001). Overall, the cost of treating the 70 patients with a SWD in a community nursing service was in excess of $56,000 Australian dollars (AUD) (£28,705) and did not include organisational overheads or travel costs for nurse visits. The management of infection contributed to 67% of the overall cost. Conclusion: SWD remains an unquantified aspect of wound care from a prevalence and fiscal point of view. Further work needs to be done in the identification of SWD and which patients may be 'at risk'. Declaration of interest: The authors declare they have no competing interests.
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