How Hospitals Can Reduce Complications in Heart Surgery Patients

Posted by Heart Hugger on Nov 8, 2021 11:31:00 AM

surgeon and surgical team

Complications after heart surgery aren't just bad news for patients—they also impact hospitals. Wound complications in a patient can be devastating financially for hospitals, especially when handling Medicare and co-morbid patients.

The cost to hospitals can range from $13,000 to $100,000 per complication. Then add on the financial penalties that hospitals face for having excessive readmissions according to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. It’s evident that there is a great need to reduce the chances of complications following a patient’s surgery.

When it comes to recovery after heart surgery, there are so many different things to keep in mind. Supporting the sternum and making sure that your body is fully protected after surgery is a must. Finding the right product for you can make all the difference and can help keep you on the road to recovery.

What Are External Chest Supports?

One of the biggest issues following heart surgery is inadequate support of the sternum and chest following surgery when doing everyday things like breathing deeply or coughing. When dealing with recovery from heart surgery, external support is a fantastic way to help keep your healing and keep you from being injured further or making recovery take longer.

An external chest support does just that. They are devices that are designed to help support the sternum and chest following surgery and to protect the chest and the incisions so that they can properly heal. These harnesses help to support the wound, offer compression and stability for the incision, and also help to offer pain management through the healing process.

Sternal support is a must when it comes to healing and recovering from heart surgery. Supporting the sternum is essential and helps to prevent the breastbone from moving apart during the healing process, it can help to keep the incision clean and closed, and can also offer you the stability and support you may be lacking from surgery.

Open heart surgery is a very serious surgery, it can be life-threatening and the healing process can be long and drawn out. Without proper support, without working to try to keep your sternum immobile, and without working to actually heal, the process can go terribly wrong. Sternal support like that offered by the Heart Hugger is a great option.

What is the Heart Hugger?

The Heart Hugger offers support for your breastbone, your incision, and your well-being so that you can get up and moving and start healing without worrying about over-extending or damaging your incision site. The Heart Hugger is comfortable, supportive, easy to clean, and easy to wear and can help you feel great as you start healing and as you start moving toward feeling good again.

Post-operative care is as important as the surgery itself and making sure you have the support and the devices that you need to heal and to get back to living your life. Recovery is one of the hardest parts of any surgery, but with the right devices you can feel better and you can get back on track.

Making sure that your incision and your healing site are well cared for can make a huge difference in how quickly and easily your incision heals and how good your healing process ultimately is. Healing is a must, the right tools can make a big difference.

A Proven Solution to Reduce Complications

Over the years, Heart Hugger has proven to be a viable and effective solution to reduce complications in heart surgery patients. Heart Hugger helps reduce the risk of complications by keeping patients on the clinical pathway to recovery. Patients are better able to manage their pain and complete their physical therapy- a necessary step to recovery and avoidance of complications.

A study was done at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston- Salem, North Carolina on how Heart Hugger successfully reduced sternal dehiscence and infections. At the time, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center performed over 800 cardiac surgeries annually, and 4% of all cardiac surgery-related admissions were attributed to sternal wound dehiscence and/or infections.

One of the most significant factors contributing to sternal complications is patient’s noncompliance with precautions following heart surgery. These include:

  • Supporting the sternum when deep breathing and coughing
  • Avoiding lifting more than 10 pounds or pushing or pulling objects

To improve compliance with high-risk patients, the cardiothoracic surgery team introduced the use of sternal support harnesses. A control group was created that had high-risk characteristics and the sternal devices were placed on them immediately after extubation. Patients were then asked about their pain levels and device compliance throughout their stay. 

Overall, patients reported decreased pain, increased compliance with sternal precautions, and increased mobility with the use of the sternal support harness. The patients were instructed to use the device for three to four weeks after discharge. Final follow-up was completed at the time of the postoperative visit with the surgeon.

Among 19 patients randomized to the sternal support device group, 2 were readmitted with sternal wound infections. The average length-of-stay was three days. In the control group, 4 of 19 patients were readmitted with wound infections. LOS ranged from three weeks to three months. Based on these findings, the sternal support harness was approved by the hospital’s Product Evaluation Committee. It is now used for all high-risk patients. The cost of the harness, even with the added cost of the Surgi Support Vest, as a solution for infection and dehiscence prevention is far less than what the medical center risked by not using it.

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