Certainly the pandemic has significantly impacted the delivery of healthcare in many fields, but those with chronic wounds receiving care in hospital outpatient departments may be uniquely affected. The spread of COVID-19 across the world has led to governments, organizations, payers, and hospitals calling for triage and postponement or cancellation of non-essential medical services to limit transmission risk and save supplies for pandemic patients.
The Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders (link: https://www.woundcarestakeholders.org/), an advocacy group in Washington, DC, has issued a statement (link: https://www.woundcarestakeholders.org/images/Final2_Statement_-_Wound_Care_as_Essential.pdf) warning of the potential consequences of delaying or cancelling necessary care for patients with wounds:
“Hospital outpatient-based wound care departments have been placed in the non-essential group by many hospitals. The Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders is concerned that this decision will result in unintended negative consequences that will cause a gradual influx of patients to the emergency department (ED). Nonhealing wounds, left untreated and unmanaged, can result in significant medical issues including infection, sepsis, the need for limb amputation, and even death. As a result, many procedures provided by wound clinics are essential – not elective – to protect the health of patients and prevent an escalation of their disease.”
The Alliance recommends leaving clinics open to manage complex wounds in clinically complex medical patients who are at risk for limb loss, hospital admission, amputation or infections, in order to prevent over-utilization of health services during the pandemic.