I'm reviewing my father's hospital bill after he had spine surgery. There were some complications from infection. He had to stay much longer than expected. One of the items on the bill ($150/day for 40 days) was a VAC system. Can you tell me what this is and if the charge seems correct?
It's always a good idea to review your bill after any medical or hospital procedure. Any questions you have can be brought to the billing department directly for explanation.

VAC stands for vacuum assisted closure. It's a system of foam dressings, tubing, and pump that is used to treat wound infection. Wound infections can be deadly. Infection puts the patient at risk for surgical failure.

Antibiotics are used but sometimes that's not enough. In more serious cases, the wound is débrided (cleaned out) and irrigated (rinsed) with saline (salt) solution. A special spongy foam-dressing cut in the exact shape of the wound is placed on top of the open site.

The dressing must make close contact with the tissue and seal off the edges so no further bacteria can get in. A piece of flexible tubing is carefully inserted through the dressing. Surgical tape covers the opening where the tube goes in. A pump connected to the tubing sucks out the dead tissue, bacteria, and excess fluid.

The VAC helps speed up healing by improving circulation and closing the size of the wound faster. The cost of the pump and all dressing supplies varies but $150.00 per day is typical. Treatment can range anywhere from one to six weeks.

There are other ways to treat wound infection. But studies show VAC is safe and effective. It can reduce the number of times the patient has to go back for further wound débridement and irrigation.