The motivation for the proposed project is that “Investment in the prevention of pressure ulcers is much less than the cost of treatment.” In fact, the cost of treating pressure ulcers has been estimated to be 2.5 times the cost of preventing them . Thus,
pressure ulcers are high-cost adverse events across the spectrum of healthcare settings and populations including pediatric care. Pressure ulcer prevalence rates have been reported to be as high as 27% in pediatric intensive care units and as high as 23% in neonatal intensive care units. Among noncritical hospitalized pediatric patients, prevalence rates of 0.47% to 13%, and incidence rates of 0.29% to 6% have been reported . Pressure injury leads to wounds and infection and thereby negatively impact the recovery of the patient from the primary illness or injury (e.g., spinal cord) necessitating the admission. According to Baharestani and Ratliff, most pressure ulcers occur within two days of admission .
The primary aim of the proposed project is to turn these two days into the proverbial “Golden Days,” by designing and developing a textile-based system for detecting and preventing pressure ulcers. Moreover, in October 2008, CMS stopped paying providers for hospital-acquired conditions including Pressure Ulcers . At CHOA, nurses assess and intervene every two hours (e.g., move infants around) to prevent pressure ulcers and a dedicated nurse does “skin rounds” weekly. Thus, there is a critical need for a cost-effective intervention that will address a significant issue affecting the quality of care for infants with the potential to be scaled up to address patients of all populations and thereby reduce healthcare costs, which currently account for 17.8% of GDP in our nation.