Impact of Rising Wound Rates in the United States

Does a scrape on your leg or a surgical incision seem like no big deal in retrospect? Well, when you consider the entire US population, or even the global population, these wounds create significant costs for our society. In 2018, it was estimated that acute, and chronic wound costs amounted to $28B - $96B, and these rates are only escalating. These are costs that often go unnoticed or unaddressed. Body wounds are a substantial clinical, social, and economic challenge being pushed by the increasing cost of health care, and the rising threat of diabetes and obesity among our population. Also, there is a consistent upsurge of difficult-to-treat infections. The continuous impact of acute, and chronic wounds on our social and economic climate creates the need for proper investment, and research into wound care.

The U.S. has an aging population that is distressed with several health risks. Our population is growing exponentially, as are risks of disease, such as diabetes. As age increases, the possibility of being diagnosed with diabetes increases as well. Furthermore, individuals with diabetes are prone to wounds, especially diabetic ulcers, foot ulcers, and pressure ulcers. These are leading types of wounds that drive up costs for hospitals and medical centers. Other factors, including stress, prolong the healing process and in turn add to medical costs.

To put the situation into perspective, acute wounds amounted to $17 million hospital visits in 2017 alone, and these numbers are only rising. Acute wound infections further complicate surgery recovery and increase costs of wound care. These are known as Surgical Site Infections (SSIs), and they create a major concern in US & global healthcare. It is the second most common cause of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and costs around $3.5-$10 billion per year. Despite all efforts, SSI contributes to mortality in 75% of cases.

Regardless of these statistics, resources allocated to education, care, and research of wounds and its effects remains low in proportion to the magnitude of its impacts. Patient education must be increased to address these socioeconomic issues, and allow patients to better care for themselves and loved ones. Better wound management is necessary to reduce costs and reduce the risk of further health complications. Although resources are currently minimal in this sector, the advanced wound care market is expected to exceed $22B by 2024 driven by technological advancements, rising numbers of acute and chronic wounds, and increased government support to address this issue.

Sen CK. Human Wounds and Its Burden: An Updated Compendium of Estimates. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2019 Feb 1;8(2):39-48. doi: 10.1089/wound.2019.0946. Epub 2019 Feb 13. PMID: 30809421; PMCID: PMC6389759.

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