Pressure injury in Australian public hospitals: a cost-of-illness study

Kim-Huong Nguyen, Wendy Chaboyer, Jennifer A. Whitty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: Pressure injuries (PI) are largely preventable and can be viewed as an adverse outcome of a healthcare admission, yet they affect millions of people and consume billions of dollars in healthcare spending. The existing literature in Australia presents a patchy picture of the economic burden of PI on society and the health system. The aim of the present study was to provide a more comprehensive and updated picture of PI by state and severity using publicly available data.

Methods: A cost-of-illness analysis was conducted using a prevalence approach and a 1-year time horizon based on data from the existing literature extrapolated using simulation methods to estimate the costs by PI severity and state subgroups.

Results: The treatment cost across all states and severity in 2012–13 was estimated to be A$983 million per annum, representing approximately 1.9% of all public hospital expenditure or 0.6% of the public recurrent health expenditure. The opportunity cost was valued at an additional A$820 million per annum. These estimates were associated with a total number of 121 645 PI cases in 2012–13 and a total number of 524 661 bed days lost.

Conclusions: The costs estimated in the present study highlight the economic waste for the Australian health system associated with a largely avoidable injury. Wastage can also be reduced by preventing moderate injuries (Stage I and II) from developing into severe cases (Stage III and IV), because the severe cases, accounting for 12% of cases, mounted to 30% of the total cost.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-336
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2015


  • opportunity cost
  • pressure ulcer
  • prevalence rate
  • treatment cost

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