Chronic wounds are estimated to affect 433,000 or more Australians a year at a conservative cost of $2.6 B to the Australian health system. Chronic wounds are more commonly found in the elderly with approximately 25% of residents in aged care facilities suffering from a wound.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics projects by 2050 the percentage of people aged 65 or over will have trebled from 2.8 M in 2007 to 7.5 M, which increases the probability of more elderly people developing a wound from lifestyle related diseases or multiple co-morbidities. This in turn means the cost of wound care will rise exponentially. Currently, accurate data on wound prevalence and incidence is limited, both nationally and internationally, restricting governments’ ability to factor funding of wound care into health budgets.

The first state-wide prevalence survey of all wound types was conducted in Western Australian Department of Health public hospitals in 2007. The data revealed that nearly 50% of all inpatients admitted to a public hospital had one or more wounds. As a result public hospitals in Western Australia received $5 million in funding for pressure reducing mattresses and seating devices.

Western Australia, and under the auspices of WoundsWest, went on to conduct two further state-wide wound prevalence surveys in 2008 and 2009. These surveys demonstrated significant reductions in pressure injury prevalence between 2008 and 2009 (25%) within equivalent survey populations of approximately 2,200 patients. Further, a 6% reduction in hospital acquired pressure injuries was noted in 2009, which equated to 4,236 bed days saved at an estimated value of $3.8M per annum.

Wound prevalence survey data can be used both prospectively and retrospectively to benefit patients and Health Service outcomes.

Prospectively, the data can be used to plan future service and clinical governance requirements based on patient demographics, number and categories of wounds and the prevalence of potentially preventable wounds.

Retrospectively, the data can be used as a report card by burrowing down into the data to measure the effectiveness of organisational policy and practices on wound prevention and management from a State, Health Service or organisational perspective.

If you would like assistance in conducting a wound prevalence survey in your organisation or would like further information on wound prevalence or incidence surveys please contact our Manager, Research and Evaluation.