Skin ulcers can be extremely painful and distressing for patients, and can have a damaging impact on a person’s quality of life and independence. The care of these ulcers can be very costly to health services largely due to the volume of required nursing time to care for each patient, costing the NHS around £2.6 billion in 2016 alone.
Venous leg ulcers and pressure ulcers are the most common types of skin ulcers, each affecting roughly 0.3% of the population in the UK. Patients with these types of wound often experience long healing times and numerous interactions with healthcare services before their condition improves.
As part of the GM CHC Wound care project, researchers are studying health data to explore how wound care can be improved for patients in the UK and beyond.
In order to ensure that patients receive the right care, predictive or prognostic tools are often used to aid clinical decisions in many different areas of healthcare. However, it is not currently standard practice for these predictive tools to be used in the planning and delivery of wound care treatment. The use of prognostic tools in wound care has the potential to enable healthcare providers to identify patients at risk of slow wound healing, so that resources could be utilised more efficiently in this area.
A team of experts from GM CHC, the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC and BRC have conducted a research review to explore which factors may have potential prognostic value for delayed healing of several common skin ulcer types, with a focus on factors that can be collected as part of routine ulcer assessments.
The research found that factors such as a patient’s age, sex, smoking status, history of deep vein thrombosis and ulcer area should be recognised as particularly important when estimating the likelihood of a patient experiencing slow ulcer healing.
‘Potential prognostic factors for delayed healing of common, non-traumatic skin ulcers: a scoping review’ was written by David Jenkins, Sundus Mohamed, Joanne Taylor, Niels Peek and Sabine van der Veer and has been published in the International Wound Journal.