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Subatmospheric Pressure Wound Therapy (SAWT): What Happens when an Academic Medical Center Switches to a Low-Tech Method?
MIECZYSLAWA FRANCZYK, PT, PhD, LAWRENCE J. GOTTLIEB, MD, DAVID H. SONG, MD MBA.
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, CHICAGO, IL, USA.

PURPOSE:
The equipment typically used for Subatmospheric Wound Therapy (SAWT) is expensive. This expense can limit the use of SAWT in situations where budgets are constrained, particularly in public hospitals and for patients who are underinsured or uninsured. We examine the utility and cost savings of using a low-tech gauze suction method for a single academic medical center.
METHODS:
Data of all patients treated with SAWT between July 1, 1999 and June 30. 2011 2014 was performed. Disposable material as well as labor costs were analyzed using our prospectively managed wound therapy database.
RESULTS:
SAWT was used in 4027 patients. VAC®(KCI™ ) was used in 2132 and 1895 patients received simple gauze suction (G-SUC) therapy. Demographics, type of wound, length of therapy were similar between the two groups. Average therapy costs of VAC® was \.51/day vs. \.22/day for G-SUC. Labor costs as a function of time was on average \.70 for VAC® and \.16 for G-SUC.
CONCLUSION:
A simple G-SUC dressing was significantly less expensive, easier to use and clinically equivalent to the VAC®. This translated into \,337 institutional savings (\,622/year) over the study period by replacing VAC® with our low-tech G-SUC method of SAWT. Materials for G-SUC are universally available and application is readily adaptable, equating to a significant costs savings for any hospital.


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