J Wound Manag Res.  2022 Oct;18(3):249-258. 10.22467/jwmr.2022.02285.

Policy Proposals for Infection Control in Patients with Chronic Wounds

Affiliations
  • 1Director of Health Insurance Committee, Korean Wound Management Society, Department of Plastic Surgery, Korea University Guro Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Vice-President and Director of Health Insurance Committee, Korean Wound Management Society, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Konkuk University Medical Center, Konkuk University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Vice-President, Korean Wound Management Society, Department of Nursing, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Director of Continuing Education, Korean Wound Management Society, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 5President, Korean Wound Management Society, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea

Abstract

South Korea is seeing a steady increase in its aging population. One in five people in the Republic of Korea will be at least 65 years old by 2025, putting more pressure on healthcare and social spending. Various geriatric diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and stroke are major contributors to disabilities in aging populations. Compounded with an increase in diabetes mellitus, the number of patients with pressure ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers is growing. Therefore, considerations for treating chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers and diabetic wounds are emerging as an urgent public health need in South Korea. The treatment of chronic wounds increases medical expenses, placing a significant social, economic, and practical burden on individuals. When complications related to chronic wounds occur, the patient’s quality of life deteriorates, threatening public health. Therefore, strategies for managing chronic wounds are clinically important; South Korea should begin to recognize the importance of chronic wound care. Social attention and government support with the establishment of proper medical insurance policies, as well as efficient medical expense budget execution, are essential for the management of chronic wounds. Silver has been known to inhibit infections for many centuries and is widely used around the world. Previous studies reported the clinical and cost-effectiveness of silver-impregnated dressings. The majority of randomized controlled studies found the positive effects of silver-impregnated dressings on chronic wound healing. A number of studies found that silver-impregnated dressings reduced wound healing time, dressing change frequency, the need for pain medication during dressing changes, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia resulting from MRSA-infected wounds, thereby shortening hospital stays. Despite evidence of the positive effects of silver-impregnated dressings on chronic wound healing, medical insurance policies and government support fall far short of expectations. This is because government officials, who often lack the required knowledge and understanding of chronic wound care, impose impossibly strict regulations on the use of silver-impregnated dressings. The regulations that enable use of silver-impregnated dressings only on major burns prohibitively limit the use of silver-impregnated dressings to a few indications and low-volume uses. Currently, silver-impregnated dressings cannot be used for chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers, diabetic wounds, venous ulcers, and cancerous wounds, even though patients are willing to bear the full costs without any government subsidies. As South Korea has one of the fastest rates of population aging in the world, a continued rise in the economic, clinical, and social impacts of chronic wounds warrants a more structured approach and proportionate investment in chronic wound care. Medical expense budget providers should be encouraged to think broadly about the potential for wider cost savings in terms of reducing wound healing time, hospital stays, and nursing time by using appropriate dressings. Therefore, there is an urgent need for better communication and mutual understanding among wound specialists, policy makers, and working-level public servants on insured dressings for chronic wound care. This white paper is a policy proposal composed by senior members of the Board of Directors of the Korean Wound Management Society for chronic wound care using silver-impregnated dressings and will hopefully contribute to a better understanding of silver-impregnated dressings for chronic wound care.

Keyword

Chronic wound; Dressing; Infection; Policy; Silver
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