Wound care in today’s world consists of a complicated decision-making process that must take several entities into account: the patient/client and the practitioner must work together to decide on a dressing protocol that meets the needs of both. In addition, needs of the practitioner’s employer, whether this be a home care agency, a hospital or other, must also be considered (i.e. cost). Appropriate wound care product use must strike a balance in satisfying the demands of all three entities, which can be difficult at times.
The Patient Care Plan
If you are asking yourself why the patient should share in decision-making regarding wound care, remember that patients must “buy in” to the care plan enacted for them regarding their wound care in order to cooperate and comply with the plan of care. For example, a patient who finds a dressing uncomfortable or aesthetically displeasing is much less likely to cooperate with care than a patient whose dressing is comfortable, requires less frequent changing and is relatively inconspicuous, allowing them to live their lives as normally as possible.
Some patients will want more control than others over decision-making, but all patients deserve a say in how their wounds are managed, and should be allowed choice whenever possible. It is also important to remember that while the end point of treatment is the same for patients and practitioners (a fully healed wound), this is not always practical or possible, and some things may be more important to the patient than to the practitioner, such as odor control. Consider the following factors along with the patient when deciding on what wound care products will be used to manage a wound:
- Pain management
- Control of odor and drainage
- Patient’s willingness and ability to change their own dressings
- Cost to the patient
- Timeframe for healing (personal goals for healing versus reality)
- Quality of life (ability of the patient to live their life as normally as possible while being treated for their wound)
- Consistency in care (practitioners should resist changing another practitioner’s protocol without good reason)
- Aesthetic acceptability (bulkiness, color)
The Wound Care Practitioner
The practitioner must decide on a dressing protocol for their clients based on current evidence-based guidelines; in addition, they must also consider their patient’s needs and desires and their employer’s needs as well. The following factors must be considered from the practitioner’s perspective:
- The evidence supporting a particular product’s use (safety and efficacy)
- Acceptability of the chosen product by the patient
- Availability of the chosen product (formulary)
- Cost of the desired product in terms of frequency of dressing changes, cost per dressing change and expected duration of treatment)
- Ability of practitioner to meet patient needs while considering all of the above
The Employer & Wound Care Products
In today’s economy, the employer has a responsibility to authorize the use of wound care products that are cost-effective while also conforming to evidence-based practice. The employer may be an organization, a hospital, a home care agency or all of these. Factors that must be considered include:
- Cost of total treatment versus cost per unit
- Reduced treatment time/reduced length of stay
- The suitability of certain products for use in and out of the hospital setting (some treatments may not be suitable for some settings)
- Prevention of infection/complications
- Acceptability of products to the practitioners who must use them
- Avoidance of litigation
The employer has responsibilities to the public, their employees (practitioners) and to the patients they serve.
Wound Care Products That Meet The Needs of Everyone
The proper use of wound care products can be a delicate balancing act. While the ultimate goal is always to obtain the best outcome possible for patients, other factors must be considered, as has been shown. Patients, practitioners, and employers must all work together within certain constraints to choose and provide wound care that meets the needs of everyone involved.
A confident ability to select the most appropriate dressing for a particular wound is a key skill of the wound care practitioner. To brush up on this skill and learn more about techniques for dressing selection, many wound care practitioners are considering becoming wound care certified. The training required for wound certification provides the opportunity to refresh your skills and knowledge, while the status of a wound care certification may open new doors in your career.
Learn More With Our Wound Care Education Options
Interested in learning more about wound care and certification? Browse through our wound care certification courses for information on our comprehensive range of education options to suit healthcare professionals across the full spectrum of qualifications and experience.
- Issues in wound care: Report from a wound academy expert forum. (2007). Downloaded from the web December 18, 2010 from http://www.molnlycke.com/Global/Wound_Care_Products/UK/Wound%20Academy/IssuesAppropriateusefinalSept07.pdf
- Myers, B. (2008). Wound Management: Principles and Practice (2nd Ed). Pg. 205-207.