Cost of a VAC Device? (Picture and Video Too)

Take a look at this tiny little device called a wound VAC, short for vacuum assisted closure.  It is a portable sucking device that keeps open wounds clean and helps them heal. I saw this one sitting on the counter top the other day in front of a patient room.   Here's a video of some guy changing out his V.A.C. dressing.

Guess how much these cost retail, should you wish to purchase them outright?  A couple thousand? Five grand? Ten grand?  How about fifteen grand?  Let's try Twenty grand?  Nope.  I was told for  me to buy them outright is thirty thousand dollars.  Thirty grand for a LCD screen and some surgical steel,  surrounded by a power supply.  I suspect parts and manufacturing would run you about $300.  Legal costs about $29,700.  Although I find this cost higher than even I would expect.


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6 Outbursts:

  1. In short, NO.

    The concept feeds on American's fascination with weird and "ground-breaking" stuff, never mind whether it really has long-term value or not. Would it cost 1/50 as much if no one bothers to running after and advertising it?

    The point is to grill all these funky inventions against hard data and objective tests and nail a true value (along with results from independent studies) on every such machine that enters the market, no matter how pissed the inventors are. "Evidence-based" medicine, right?

    NOT to use it to ask for a raise.

  2. Not to mention the cost of future problems when the device is not used/maintained properly. If leak free suction is not maintained, it can lead to sepsis.

  3. Pay grade is usually proportional to one's skills and experiences.

    On the other hand, is the cost of medical equipment and drug blown out of proportion? Most likely, yes. It's an industry-level problem that perhaps only the legislators can bring back under control.

    For whatever its worth, i hear you, Doc. PCP and internist are way too under-valued in our broken healthcare system.

  4. When dear husband had a routine arthroscopic ACL repair and came out of the OR with MRSA sewn into his incision, subsequent hardware removal a week later through a much bigger surgery, etc etc, we were cleared to do the IV Vanc.therapy at home with me doing the wet to dry dressings, healing by secondary intention.....the insurance denied use of a wound VAC. My husband was lucky that I have the knowledge and ability to do what needed to be done. I can't imagine being turned down and having nothing else to fall back on.

    We need such a shakeup in our health care system that it makes me sick.

  5. Wound VACS, properly used, can hasten healing time by a factor of two or more, decrease pain, and allow a more rapid return to normal function. They are expensive, no question.
    I have no idea what they cost to manufacture, and will not speculate, unlike our host.
    I also have no idea what the development costs were, what the ongoing legal costs are, and what the profit margin is.
    What I do know is that the VAC is a much better way of taking care of certain wounds than the traditional way described by OHN, and it costs more, at least on a per day basis. In other words, it's better and it costs more. Nobody is forced to use it, and all of you are free to invest your time, money, and energy into developing a better, cheaper way to manage contaminated wounds. Then you can charge whatever you want for it, and put the evil VAC company out of business.

    I have no financial connection with KCI, the VAC manufacturer, but I do prescribe VACs for my patients who I believe will benefit from their use.

  6. As a surgeon I have used this on a number of complex wounds in complex patietns over the years. The simple truth is this allows us to get patients out of the hosptial to heal wounds way faster and with less RN care. This is exactly what this country needs. New Innovations that help people heal faster for less money. Yes it costs more up front. Trust me, this $50k is paid for in one patient, yet the deivce is used all year long. Its saves money for the system. Its great for RNs and docs. its great for patients. Its great for society. But it takes an investment up front.


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