Do you know the 3 steps for proper wound care for patients?

Every nurse should know the basics of proper wound care.

That’s because, regardless of where you work — acute, long-term or outpatient care, you likely see a variety of wounds on patients on a routine basis. Whether their wounds are from trauma, surgery or are chronic, all wounds require special care. Understanding basic, proper wound care skills is essential to help your patients achieve optimum outcomes.

We spoke with Bill Richlen, PT, WCC, DWC, clinical instructor with the Wound Care Education Institute to better understand the basic skills required for providing wound care to your patients.

Regardless of what setting you work in, Richlen said, a wound is a wound, and proper wound care requires clinicians practice the same three steps in the correct manner. “The only difference your setting makes is what your facility’s policies and procedures are with regards to wound care,” Richlen, who also is owner of Infinitus LLC, in Santa Claus, Ind., a wound care instruction and consulting company, said. “This encompasses the products your facility provides for wound care and the frequency of wound care procedures.”

Special tools are typically not needed for basic wound care unless you work in a state that allows you to perform sharp debridement, said Richlen.

“Sharp debridement involves additional training, skills and tools to perform,” he said.

The three steps for basic wound care, according to Richlen include accurate assessment, thorough cleansing of wounds and appropriate dressing of wounds.

1—Proper wound care starts with accurate and timely wound assessments

Having a comprehensive understanding regarding the basics of assessing wounds is imperative, said Richlen.

“It’s important to assess a wound accurately as you’ll base your treatment choices off of your assessment,” he said.

Areas in which you’ll want to gain skills include:

  • Understanding wound characteristics
  • Learning about wound etiologies
  • Proper measuring techniques
  • Accurate wound staging

2—Thorough cleansing of wounds

Richlen said from a treatment standpoint, it’s imperative you learn to properly clean wounds. “The process of cleaning wounds is a policy and procedure that is facility specific,” he said. “You’ll want to follow the protocols in place where you work regarding what you use to clean wounds, as well as how often (the frequency) wound cleansing needs to be performed.”

3—Appropriate dressing of wounds

“The choice of dressings you have to work with also depends on your facility,” Richlen said. “You’ll want to understand which dressing is the most appropriate for the type of wound you’re treating, and know how to apply it accurately as per the manufacturer’s specifications.”

Knowing the correct application of dressings is essential.

“If the wrong dressing is used, or the right dressing is used but not applied correctly using the appropriate steps required, your wound will not heal,” he said.

Richlen pointed out the use of some dressings, foams and high-end products such as negative pressure wound therapy (PTWT) systems, may involve several specific steps for the appropriate application.

“Some products require significant training so staff know how to use them properly,” Richlen said. “Many times, manufacturers provide training as an in-service for staff, at other times, facilities may designate a wound care provider to …read more

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