A dedicated wound healing clinic – the first in Australia – opens on Tuesday, 7 March. It draws together a pool of specialist wound healing talent that includes a vascular surgeon, nurse practitioners, an advanced podiatrist and specialist wound nurses in one spot to treat and assess chronic wounds.
The clinic, Wound Innovations, is in Spring Hill, Brisbane and accessible to all Australians via the Spring Hill teleclinic, which connects patients and health professionals with a specialist from Wound Innovations through videoconferencing facilities. Wound Innovations also offers education for health professionals and will be a site for clinical trials and other research projects.
Living with a serious wound is incredibly debilitating. “Wounds are painful and can exude a fluid. People with a wound can suffer from a lack of mobility and this leads to less social interaction, and isolation,” explains Dr Ian Griffiths, CEO of the Wound Management Innovation Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), which runs Wound Innovations.
“Often people are afraid to go out because of the smell from their wounds. It can take you down a very dark path.”
Dr Griffiths says there is medical research linking wounds with depression as well as dementia.
The teleclinic takes high resolution photos of each patient’s wounds to monitor progress and the patient provides feedback, while wound healing experts make recommendations for future care. Appointments may attract a Medicare rebate.
Griffiths expects the wound healing clinic and teleclinic to be a life changer for patients and plans to open other wound healing clinics with specialised teams in capital cities around Australia.
He also expects dramatic savings to the Australian healthcare system as fewer people with wounds will end up in hospital. The Wound CRC estimates that wound healing and management costs the Australian healthcare system $2.85 billion a year, but this is considered a conservative figure and one that covers only the tip of the iceberg.
Griffiths hopes big institutions such as aged and residential care homes will join the clinical service and teleclinic. Some have large percentages of residents who need constant, ongoing wound care. “I know of one aged care home with 38% of residents with chronic wounds,” says Griffiths.
Some of the worst wounds to treat stem from chronic diseases such as diabetes. There are more than 4400 amputations in Australia because of diabetic foot wounds and every 30 seconds a lower limb is lost around the world.
Funded by the Federal Government, the Wound CRC has carried out industry led research since 2010. One research project showed that 78% of patients with venous leg ulcers will heal over a 12-week period by using best practice wound care, including compression bandaging.
Patients in many of the CRC’s studies live with the ulcers for 10 to 20 years. In one case, a patient lived with ulcers for 54 years. At the time, Wound CRC was recruiting patients for a project studying wounds that did not clear up after 12 weeks.
The CRC’s extensive wound healing research stretching over seven years is helping the 433,000 Australian patients who are suffering from chronic wounds at any one time. Their research covers diabetic foot ulcers, burns, skin tears, acute surgical wounds and pressure injuries.
For more information visit woundinnovations.com.au or call 1300 968 637.