Cellulitis trial bids to take early action
A trial aimed at reducing avoidable admissions to hospital found that it wasn’t as easy as administering intravenous antibiotics in the community.
The skin infection cellulitis is one of top four causes of avoidable admissions to hospital in Wellington but an initiative to treat patients earlier at general practices or by community nurses did not reduce the hospitalisation rate.
Capital and Coast District Health Board infectious diseases specialist Nigel Raymond said cellulitis was rarely the patient’s only condition.
As well as wounds and eczema, cellulitis was often associated with varicose veins, swollen legs from a variety of causes, diabetes or obesity.
‘‘The GPS were trying to identify a small number of the sickest people who could be treated before they needed to go to hospital, which was quite an ambitious thing to try,’’ he said.
It showed that general practitioners could deliver the care, but only from Monday to Friday.
Cellulitis is an infection that takes hold when the skin barrier has been compromised, either by a wound or other condition, such as eczema. The earlier it is treated with antibiotics and wound care the better it responded, Dr Raymond said.
The board’s approach has now been reversed. Patients are stabilised in hospital and discharged to GPS and community nurses as soon as possible.