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Guidelines for safe negative-pressure wound therapy

safe negative-pressure wound therapy

By Ron Rock MSN, RN, ACNS-BC

Since its introduction almost 20 years ago, negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT) has become a leading technology in the care and management of acute, chronic, dehisced, traumatic wounds; pressure ulcers; diabetic ulcers; orthopedic trauma; skin flaps; and grafts. NPWT applies controlled suction to a wound using a suction pump that delivers intermittent, continuous, or variable negative pressure evenly through a wound filler (foam or gauze). Drainage tubing adheres to an occlusive transparent dressing; drainage is removed through the tubing into a collection canister. NWPT increases local vascularity and oxygenation of the wound bed and reduces edema by removing wound fluid, exudate, and bacteria. (more…)

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How do you prove a wound was unavoidable?

unavoidable pressure ulcers

By Jeri Lundgren, BSN, RN, PHN, CWS, CWCN

A pressure ulcer that a patient acquires in your facility or a patient’s existing pressure ulcer that worsens puts your organization at risk for regulatory citations as well as litigation. Unless you can prove the pressure ulcer was unavoidable, you could find yourself burdened with citations or fines, or could even end up in court. (more…)

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Clincal Notes: Analysis, Osteomyelitis, sickle cell, maggot

Value of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in wound care

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses—literature-based recommendations for evaluating strengths, weaknesses, and clinical value,” in Ostomy Wound Management, discusses evidence-based practice and how systematic reviews (SRs) and meta-analyses (MAs) can help improve management of wound care patients.

The authors of the article explain evidence-based practice and provide useful definitions for key terms. They then provide a list of eight questions to use when evaluating SRs and practical tips such as how to search for SR and MA studies. The article finishes with a list of eight inter­ventions supported by the most evidence: hydro­colloidal dressings, honey, biosynthetic dressings, iodine complexes, silver compounds, hydrogels, foam dressings, and negative pressure wound therapy. (more…)

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Case study: Early detection and treatment resolves a deep tissue injury

deep tissue injury

By Todd Zortman, RN, WCC, and James Malec, PhD

Pressure ulcers are a chronic healthcare burden for both patients and pro­viders. Over 2.5 million patients in the United States are affected annually by pressure ulcers, with nearly 60,000 of those cases directly resulting in death. From a provider’s perspective, the cost of individual care ranges anywhere from $500 to $70,000 per pressure ulcer, which translates to annual costs in the U.S. approaching $11 billion. (more…)

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Communicating to caregivers: Cornerstone of care

By Jeri Lundgren, BSN, RN, PHN, CWS, CWCN

The challenge of preventing pressure ulcers is won through our frontline staff—the patient’s caregivers. Caregivers deliver most of the pressure ulcer preventive interventions, such as turning and repositioning, floating the heels, and managing incontinence. That’s why it’s imperative to communicate the patient’s plan of care directly to the caregivers. (more…)

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Improving outcomes with noncontact low-frequency ultrasound

By Ronnel Alumia, BSN, RN, WCC, CWCN, OMS

Achieving excellent wound care outcomes can be challenging, given the growing number of high-risk patients admitted to healthcare facilities today. Many of these patients have comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, renal disease, smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and poor nutritional status. These conditions reduce wound-healing ability. (more…)

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Clinical Notes

Study finds less-invasive method for identifying osteomyelitis is effective

Researchers have found that using hybrid 67Ga single-photon emission computed tomography and X-ray computed tomography (SPECT/CT) imaging combined with a bedside percutaneous bone puncture in patients with a positive scan is “accurate and safe” for diagnosing osteomyelitis in patients with diabetes who have a foot ulcer without signs of soft-tissue infection.

The new method, which avoids an invasive bone biopsy, has a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 93.6%. In the study of 55 patients, antibiotic treatment was avoided in 55% of suspected cases.

Diagnosing diabetic foot osteomyelitis in patients without signs of soft tissue infection by coupling hybrid 67Ga SPECT/CT with bedside percutaneous bone puncture,” published by Diabetes Care, followed patients for at least a year.

MRSA strains will likely continue to coexist in hospitals and communities

The strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) differ in the hospital and community settings, and both are likely to coexist in the future, according to a study in PLOS Pathogens.

Hospital-community interactions foster coexistence between methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus” notes that previously it was thought that the more invasive community strains would become more prevalent (and even eliminate) hospital strains. This new information could have significant consequences for public health because of the differences in the resistance of the two strains.

C. difficile prevention actions fail to stop spread

Despite increasing activities to prevent the spread of Clostridium difficile, infection from C. difficile remains a problem in healthcare facilities, according to a survey of infection preventionists by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

The survey found that 70% of preventionists have adopted additional interventions in their healthcare facilities since March 2010, but only 42% have seen a decline in C. difficile infection rates; 43% saw no decline.

A total of 1,087 APIC members completed the survey in January 2013. The survey also found that more than 92% of respondents have increased emphasis on environmental cleaning and equipment decontamination practices, but 64% said they rely on observation, rather than more accurate and reliable monitoring technologies, to assess cleaning effectiveness.

In addition, 60% of respondents have antimicrobial stewardship programs at their facilities, compared with 52% in 2010. Such programs promote the appropriate use of antibiotics, which can help reduce the risk of C. difficile infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diarrhea caused by C. difficile is linked to 14,000 American deaths each year.

Mast cells may not play significant role in wound healing

Evidence that mast cells are not required for healing of splinted cutaneous excisional wounds in mice,” published in PLOS One, analyzed wound healing in three types of genetically mast-deficient mice and found they reepithelialized their wounds at rates similar to control mice. At the time of closure, the researchers found that scars in all the mice groups were similar in both “quality of collagen deposition and maturity of collagen fibers.” The findings fail to support the previously held belief that mast cells are important in wound healing.

Study identifies effective casting for diabetes-related plantar foot ulcers

Nonremovable casts that relieve pressure are more effective than removable casts or dressings alone for the treatment of plantar foot ulcers caused by diabetes, according to an analysis of clinical trials.

The authors of “Pressure-relieving interventions for treating diabetic foot ulcers,” published by The Cochrane Library, reviewed 14 randomized clinical trials that included 709 participants. Nonremovable pressure-relieving casts were compared to dressings alone, temporary therapeutic shoes, removable pressure-relieving devices, and surgical lengthening of the Achilles tendon.

The study also notes that when combined with Achilles tendon lengthening, nonremovable devices were more successful in one forefoot ulcer study than the use of a nonremovable cast alone.

Most studies were from the United States (five) and Italy (five), with Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, and India each contributing one study.

Prescriber preference drives use of antibiotics in long-term care

Prolonged antibiotic treatment in long-term care: Role of the prescriber,” published by JAMA Internal Medicine, found that the preferences of prescribers, rather than patient characteristics, drive antibiotic treatment.

The study of 66,901 patients from 630 long-term care facilities found that 77.8%
received a course of antibiotics. The most common length (41%) was 7 days, but the length exceeded 7 days in 44.9% of patients. Patient characteristics were similar among short-, average-, and long-duration prescribers.

The study authors conclude: “Future trials should evaluate antibiotic stewardship interventions targeting prescriber preferences to systematically shorten average treatment durations to reduce the complications, costs, and resistance associated with antibiotic overuse.”

Electrophysical therapy may be helpful for diabetic foot ulcers

Electrophysical therapy for managing diabetic foot ulcers: A systematic review” concludes that electrophysical therapy is potentially beneficial because in each randomized clinical trial it outperformed the control or sham electrical stimulation.

The authors of the study in International Wound Journal reviewed eight trials with a combined total of 325 patients. Five studies were on electrical stimulation, two on phototherapy, and one on ultrasound. Because of the small number of trials, the possibility of harmful effects can’t be ruled out, and the authors recommend “high-quality trials with larger sample sizes.”

Significant geographic variations in spending, mortality exist for diabetic patients with foot ulcers and amputations

Geographic variation in Medicare spending and mortality for diabetic patients with foot ulcers and amputations” reports healthcare spending and mortality rates vary “considerably” across the United States.

The study in Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications found that higher spending wasn’t associated with a significant reduction in 1-year patient mortality. In addition, rates of hospital admission were associated with higher per capita spending and higher mortality rates for patients.

Home-based exercise program improves life for lymphedema patients

An individualized, home-based progressive resistance exercise program improves upper-limb volume and circumference and quality of life in postmastectomy patients with lymphedema, according to a study published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development.

Effect of home-based exercise program on lymphedema and quality of life in female postmastectomy patients: Pre-post intervention study” included 32 women who participated in an 8-week program. The women received education about the program and an initial training session from a physiotherapist. They practiced the exercise sequence and received a program and logbook once their performance was satisfactory. Patients were told to increase weight only when two sets of 15 repetitions became easy to perform.

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Clinician Resources


Here are resources that can help you in your busy clinical practice by giving you information quickly.

New guidelines for managing diabetic foot ulcers

The International Affairs & Best Practice Guidelines has released “Assessment and Management of Foot Ulcers for People with Diabetes, Second Edition,” published by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.

The guidelines include recommendations for practice, education, policy, and future resource. Strategies for implementation are given, as well as several useful appendices, such as:

• Debridement Decision-Making Algorithm
• A Guide to Dressing Foot Wounds
• PEDIS: Diabetes Foot Ulcer Classification System
• Offloading Devices
• Optimal Treatment Modalities.

The guidelines also recommend that clinicians refer to “Toolkit: Implementation of Best Practice Guidelines, Second Edition.”

PREPARE for complex medical decisions

PREPARE is a useful and patient-friendly website designed to help prepare people to make complex medical decisions. The website was developed by clinical researchers from the San Francisco VA Medical Center; the University of California, San Francisco; and NCIRE—The Veterans Health Research Institute.

PREPARE uses videos to provide concrete examples of how to identify what is most important in life; how to communicate that with family, friends, and doctors; and how to make informed medical decisions when the time comes. Users can also download a PDF of a PREPARE pamphlet.

Free guides for infection prevention from APIC

Download two free implementation guides for infection prevention from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC):

2013 Guide to Preventing Clostridium difficile Infections

This revised guide contains strategies for prevention, considerations for specific patient populations, evolving practices, and how to incorporate current regulations.

Topics include:

C. difficile in pediatrics and skilled nursing facilities
• pathogenesis and changing epidemiology of C. difficile infection diagnosis
• environmental control
• new and emerging technologies
• tools and examples to help apply preventative measures, such as hand hygiene monitoring, environmental cleaning, and isolation compliance.

2013 Guide to Infection Prevention in Emergency Medical Services

This guide includes infection-prevention standards, regulations, and best practices, as well as instructions, examples, and tools to conduct surveillance and risk assessments.

Making health care safer

Making Health Care Safer II: An Updated Critical Analysis of the Evidence for Patient Safety Practices,” from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, covers several topics of interest, such as preventing in-facility pressure ulcers, promoting a culture of safety, and human factors and ergonomics. The report lists 22 patient-safety strategies that are ready for adoption. You can access more information about these strategies, read a related special supplement from the Annals of Internal Medicine, and read a thoughtful commentary about the report, “Treat the system, not the error: Patient safety in 2013.”

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