By: Nancy Morgan, RN, BSN, MBA, WOCN, WCC, CWCMS, DWC
In the modern world of wound care, there are many treatment options. Surprisingly though, we are still seeing orders for those dreaded wet-to-dry dressings. Using a wet-to-dry dressing involves placing moist saline gauze onto the wound bed, then allowing it to dry and adhere to the tissue in the wound bed. Once the gauze is dry, the clinician removes the gauze, with force often required. This has to be repeated every 4 to 6 hours. Wet-to-dry dressings are a nonselective debridement method that harms good tissue as well as removes necrotic tissue. It keeps the wound bed at a cool temperature and it at risk for bacterial invasion, as bacteria can penetrate up to 64 layers of gauze! It’s one of the most painful procedures for our patients, and this was one treatment that as a nurse I never wanted to do. In fact, I have heard of nurses who would remoisten the gauze before removal to make the treatment more bearable for patients.
Are you seeing a lot of these dressing still used in current practice? What types of settings are they still being used in consistently? How are you dealing with the prescribing clinicians who continue to order this treatment even though it’s considered a substandard practice for wound care?