AAWC President Elect Ruth Bryant's Hill Day on Pressure Ulcers

On Wednesday, March 13, the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care (AAWC) President-elect Ruth Bryant, PhD, RN, CWOCN, met with a number of House and Senate offices on Capitol Hill to educate lawmakers on the need for increased prevention of pressure ulcers for our nation’s veterans. Dr. Bryant was joined by Martin Burns, CEO of Bruin Biometrics, and representatives from Arnold & Porter specializing in health care policy.

Congress is now developing the appropriations bills that will fund the federal government’s departments and programs in the 2020 fiscal year. BBI and AAWC met with House and Senate offices to discuss the need for increased funding for research on pressure ulcer prevention at the Veterans Hospital Administration (VHA), particularly with high risk populations such as veterans with spinal cord injuries, and BBI’s interest in developing a pilot program for the VHA using SEM Scanner technology*. Veterans treated in Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals are 52% more likely to develop a pressure ulcer than patients in civilian hospitals. It costs the VHA between $20,900 and $151,700 to treat each individual pressure ulcer, totaling an estimated $1.3 to $3.6 billion in costs annually. Dr. Bryant discussed the importance of finding new approaches that could allow the VHA to save resources and ensure the highest quality of care for veterans.

The group met with the staff of the following members of Congress:

•    Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA)
•    Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA)
•    Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN)
•    Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
•    Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL)
•    Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA)
•    Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
•    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
•    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

The group also discussed the unique challenges facing the VHA in addressing pressure ulcers with staff members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, which are tasked with crafting the legislation that is ultimately approved by Congress. The day was highlighted by a meeting with Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who serves as Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs, and Related Agencies, which oversees the Department of Veterans Affairs. Rep. Wasserman Schultz has been supportive of efforts to combat the threat of pressure ulcers in the past, and expressed interest in BBI’s pilot program proposal.

Throughout the day, Dr. Bryant provided valuable insight into the challenges of identifying and treating pressure ulcers, and the harm they cause to patients. Her perspective as an expert on the subject provided valuable information for Congressional staff, who have been concerned about higher pressure ulcer rates at the VA. Dr. Bryant’s efforts ensured that Congressional leaders are aware of new developments in the science and technology to alleviate the burden of pressure ulcers, setting a strong base for progress on this issue down the road. The AAWC is committed to continuing to work with Congress to improve the identification and care of patients with pressure ulcers and to improve prevention strategies for those at risk.

* Bruin Biometrics (BBI) is a medical device company that has developed innovative technology called the “SEM Scanner,” for early detection and prevention of pressure ulcers. The hand-held, portable wound assessment device can alert caregivers and providers to increased risk 5 days (median) before ulceration or visual signs of skin damage. The SEM Scanner, currently deployed across the UK and Canada, has seen success in reducing facility-acquired pressure ulcers (FAPUs). The SEM Scanner has been used in Europe since 2014 to prevent pressure ulcers, with up to 100% reductions in PU incidents across all care settings. In December of this past year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted marketing authorization for the SEM Scanner, as an adjunct to the standard of care when assessing patients in the U.S. who are at increased risk for pressure ulcers. BBI is interested in partnering with the VA to pilot the technology.

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Rodney M Snow - Tuesday, April 02, 2019

That is great and I just met this past Friday with Congressman Gary Palmer (District 6 in Alabama) about this same topic with PU prevention. He seems to understand what is the current problem along with the future that with an older population that will be sitting more will lead to additional PU's. Prevention is the key to the problem. At the recent PU Summit, it was shown that the Zero Pressure Mattress and Zero Pressure Cushion can essentially prevent PU's. These are new but with zero pressure, by definition then no PU. Rodney Snow, MD

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