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  1. Xakellis, George C. Jr MD, MBA
  2. Frantz, Rita A. PhD, RN
  3. Lewis, Anne MA, RN
  4. Harvey, Pam DO, MHA, MA


OBJECTIVE: To determine the cost-effectiveness of a guideline-based pressure ulcer prevention protocol over time.


DESIGN: Retrospective and prospective quasi-experimental longitudinal design. Costs are presented from the long-term-care facility perspective. Data collection occurred for 3 periods: the first 6 months of 1994 (prior to protocol implementation), the first 6 months of 1995 (immediately following implementation) and the first 6 months of 1997 (2 years following implementation).


SETTING: 77-bed long-term-care facility


PATIENTS/PARTICIPANTS: Subjects were ulcer-free facility residents at the start of each data collection period. There were 69 subjects in the 1994 sample, 63 in the 1995 sample, and 71 in the 1997 sample.


INTERVENTIONS: A guideline-based pressure ulcer prevention protocol was implemented during the last 3 months of 1994. The protocol consisted of specific policies for pressure ulcer prevention and treatment, intensive staff education on pressure ulcer care, and monitoring with regular performance feedback to staff.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Time to ulcer development varied among the 3 groups (log rank = 8.81, P = .01), with longer time to ulcer development in 1995 compared with 1994; no difference was seen between 1997 and 1994. The time for ulcers to heal decreased over the 3 years (log rank = 9.49, P <.01), with ulcer healing time being shorter in 1995 and 1997 compared with 1994. Total costs were unchanged during the 3 years (F = 0.2, P = .81). Costs of treatment declined significantly from 1994 to 1995 and 1997 (F = 5.5, P <.01) and costs of prevention increased significantly from 1994 to 1995 and 1997 (F = 15, P <.01). From 1994 to 1997, the cost for 1 day of ulcer-free life was $3.50.


CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of a pressure ulcer prevention protocol showed mixed results. Initial reductions in pressure ulcer incidence were lost over time. Clinical results of ulcer treatment, however, improved and treatment costs fell during the 3 years. Implementation of preventive programs poses a major leadership challenge.