HARTMANN in South Africa
Wound Care > Research and Science > The treatment of chronic wounds

The modern treatment of chronic wounds in Germany – results of a survey

To date 40 % of patients are not primarily treated with moist / modern wound treatment products, although almost 90 % of the physicians would use them in the first instance. Those were the statements obtained in a survey carried out nationwide on the treatment of patients with chronic wounds. According to the physicians questioned in the survey, this approach is justified by restrictions being imposed by the healthcare system. 

The treatment with modern dressings is not enough.

In Germany, the estimated number of patients that suffer from chronic wounds lies between 2.5 and 4 million. As a consequence of demographic development, the number of patients with chronic wounds is expected to increase. Therefore, chronic wounds represent not only a serious medical problem, but are also an economic issue.

The modern treatment of chronic wounds is based on maintaining a moist wound environment to support the natural healing process. A variety of products have been developed to suit the individual needs of a given wound at the different stages in the healing process, e.g. alginates, hydrocolloids, hydrogels, foam dressings, hydropolymers, silver impregnated dressings and biologically active wound dressings. Despite the higher costs for modern dressings than for traditional wound dressings, it was found that the overall costs of wound treatment can be reduced by 45% with the use of modern wound dressings. Within almost one week, savings of one third can be achieved on material costs. This is accompanied by savings achieved on personnel costs as there were less dressing changes needed. The advantages for the patient lie in the fact that the duration of treatment is shortened, the quality of life therefore enhanced and also the mobility of the individual patient improved. Treatment with modern wound dressings also accelerates the ability of the person to return to work.

Compared to other European countries, the use of modern wound treatment in routine care has not been an established treatment so far, as was found in a survey conducted by the German Health Systems Research Institute (Institut für Gesundheits-System-Forschung) and commissioned by the German Medical Technology Association, BVMed, in autumn 2006 (Golbach, Ute: Institut für Gesundheitssystemforschung GmbH, Kiel, 2007, Schriftenreihe Band II). Although the participating physicians confirmed that they used modern wound treatment products in routine care, only about 16% judged the quality of care in Germany as good or very good. For 83% of the participating physicians the main causes of the reluctance to use modern wound dressings in routine care were a result of budget cuts for dressing material and medicines, for 49 % it was a result of the insufficient illustration in the EBM list (German Standard Assessment Scale for Medical Fees), for 43 % it was influenced by the health policy framework and for 33 % it was caused by disapproval exerted by the health insurance companies. Therefore, measures should be taken to guarantee a more general, need-based approach in wound care, according to expert opinion.