Hospitals focus on pressure injury prevention as concerns grow over frequency and severity
Despite medical facilities’ best efforts, pressure injuries (PIs) are on the rise. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has estimated that 2.5 million hospital patients develop a PI each year, and 60,000 die as a direct result of their wounds.1 And that was before the coronavirus pandemic sent tens of thousands of people to ICUs.
The prevalence and severity of PIs has prompted the healthcare industry and federal government to take significant steps to reduce and prevent PIs. One of the most promising initiatives is a process improvement project between the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare (JCCTH) and several leading hospitals including Johns Hopkins Hospital, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Hospital and Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital.
Launched in 2018, the project is helping clinicians identify the root causes of PIs in their daily work and implement countermeasures. In the first year, the three hospitals involved achieved a 62% average relative reduction in hospital-acquired PIs after implementing process improvements under the JCCTH’s guidance. That was equal to preventing 78 PIs and saving $15.3 million.2 The project is expected to be expanded to additional hospitals this year.
Pressure Injury Documentation and Assessment: A Guide to State-of-the-Art Staging and Recording of PIs
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Heightened federal interest in pressure injuries
The federal government is increasing its efforts to reduce hospital-acquired pressure injuries (HAPIs). Concern mounted last year when the AHRQ National Scorecard on Hospital-Acquired Conditions showed that while “harms” to patients decreased in nine out of 11 measured categories, PIs rose 6%.3
AHRQ was seeking a 20% reduction in all hospital-acquired conditions by 2020—a significant jump from 13% between 2014 and 2017. Results from that initiative are expected to be published soon. Fortunately, the JCCTH project shines new light on where hospitals should focus.3
Technology key to pressure injury prevention
The JCCTH project points to several reasons for PIs, including issues with identifying poor skin integrity and problems with assessing and documenting injuries.
Accurate staging is one of the keys to taming the PI tiger (see our ebook, “Pressure Injury Documentation and Assessment” for staging descriptions and tips). Another is precise wound measurement and recording, which is where digital technology, such as the Tissue Analytics’ solution, offers tremendous benefits.
Digital imaging is a necessity in wound documentation. With impressive accuracy, driven by machine learning models, digital imaging virtually eliminates the subjectivity that plagues wound assessments, providing comprehensive, consistent and compliant documentation.
Tissue Analytics, a Net Health company, is an industry-leading PI surveillance program proven to simplify and streamline wound care documentation workflows. The Tissue Analytics application uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to automatically calculate and measure the wound boundaries, which sidesteps common errors of traditional measurements.
Tissue Analytics can consistently and accurately measure the surface area and volume of a wound, without the variation from using a straight-edge ruler. In hospitals that previously relied on paper documentation and ruler measurements, Tissue Analytics’ digital imaging has produced dramatic results. For example:
- After implementing Tissue Analytics’ digital imaging, Penn Medicine’s Lancaster General Hospital, found that their wound care process was 57% faster and 34% more precise.4
- An independent third-party study showed that, when using Tissue Analytics, measurement errors dropped to less than 4%, compared to a 44% error rate with ruler measurements.5
When wounds are properly assessed and accurately documented at the outset, positive outcomes result. In the high-stakes PI reduction game, the Tissue Analytics technology gives hospitals the winning hand.
1“Are we ready for this change?” Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
2“Hospital-Acquired Pressure Ulcers/Injuries (HAPU/I) Prevention,” Center for Transforming Healthcare, 2020.
3AHRQ National Scorecard on Hospital-Acquired Conditions: Final Results for 2014 Through 2017, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
4Net Health Webinar, Top Digital Techniques to Reduce Hospital-Acquired Pressure Injuries with Kara Couch, June 25, 2020.
5Tissue Analytics data, available upon request.
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