Navigating through the thousands of wound care products can be overwhelming and confusing. I suspect that if you checked your supply rooms and treatment carts today, you would find stacks of unused products. You also would probably find that many products were past their expiration dates and that you have duplicate products in the same category, but with different brand names. Many clinicians order a product by brand name, not realizing that plenty of the product is already in stock under a different brand name. (more…)
Venous disease, which encompasses all conditions caused by or related to diseased or abnormal veins, affects about 15% of adults. When mild, it rarely poses a problem, but as it worsens, it can become crippling and chronic.
Chronic venous disease often is overlooked by primary and cardiovascular care providers, who underestimate its magnitude and impact. Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) causes hypertension in the venous system of the legs, leading to various pathologies that involve pain, swelling, edema, skin changes, stasis dermatitis, and ulcers. An estimated 1% of the U.S. population suffers from venous stasis ulcers (VSUs). Causes of VSUs include inflammatory processes resulting in leukocyte activation, endothelial damage, platelet aggregation, and intracellular edema. Preventing VSUs is the most important aspect of CVI management.
By Bill Richlen, PT, WCC, CWS, DWC, and Denise Stetter, PT, WCC, DCCT The Rolling Stones may have said it best when they sang, “You can’t always get what you want,” a sentiment that also applies to wound care. A common frustration among certified wound care clinicians is working with other clinicians who have limited current wound care education and…
By Donna Sardina, RN, MHA, WCC, CWCMS, DWC, OMS Welcome to our second annual “Best of the Best” issue of Wound Care Advisor, the official journal of the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy (NAWCO). This may be the first time you have held Wound Care Advisor in your hands because normally we come to you via the Internet.…
Wound photography may motivate patients Having patients view photographs of their wounds can motivate them to become more involved in managing those wounds, according to a study in International Wound Journal, particularly when wounds are in difficult-to-see locations.
Here are a variety of resources you might want to explore. Considering opioid-prescribing practices Healthcare providers’ prescribing patterns for opioids vary considerably by state, according to a report in Vital Signs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here are some facts from the report: • Each day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers in…
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…
By Nancy Collins, PhD, RD, LD/N, FAPWCA, and Allison Schnitzer Nutrition is a critical factor in the wound healing process, with adequate protein intake essential to the successful healing of a wound. Patients with both chronic and acute wounds, such as postsurgical wounds or pressure ulcers, require an increased amount of protein to ensure complete and timely healing of their…
By Nancy Morgan, RN, BSN, MBA, WOC, WCC, DWC, OMS Each issue, Apple Bites brings you a tool you can apply in your daily practice. Description The spiral wrap is a technique used for applying compression bandaging. Procedure Here’s how to apply a spiral wrap to the lower leg. Please note that commercial compression wraps come with specific instructions for…
By Nancy Morgan, RN, BSN, MBA, WOC, WCC, DWC, OMS Each issue, Apple Bites brings you a tool you can apply in your daily practice. Exudate (drainage), a liquid produced by the body in response to tissue damage, is present in wounds as they heal. It consists of fluid that has leaked out of blood vessels and closely resembles blood…
By Jeri Lundgren, BSN, RN, PHN, CWS, CWCN Navigating through the thousands of wound care products can be overwhelming and confusing. I suspect that if you checked your supply rooms and treatment carts today, you would find stacks of unused products. You also would probably find that many products were past their expiration dates and that you have duplicate products…
By Jennifer Oakley, BS, RN, WCC, DWC, OMS I used to think I could do it alone. I took the wound care certification course, passed the certification exam, and took all of my new knowledge—and my new WCC credential—back to the long-term care facility where I worked. I was ready to change the world. It didn’t take me long to…
By Kulbir Dhillon, MSN, FNP, APNP, WCC Venous disease, which encompasses all conditions caused by or related to diseased or abnormal veins, affects about 15% of adults. When mild, it rarely poses a problem, but as it worsens, it can become crippling and chronic. Chronic venous disease often is overlooked by primary and cardiovascular care providers, who underestimate its magnitude…
By Catherine R. Ratliff, PhD, APRN-BC, CWOCN, CFCN It’s estimated that about 70% of the 1 million ostomates in the United States and Canada will experience or have experienced stomal or peristomal complications. Peristomal complications are more common, although stomal complications (for example, retraction, stenosis, and mucocutaneous separation) can often contribute to peristomal problems by making it difficult to obtain…
By Bill Richlen, PT, WCC, CWS, DWC, and Denise Stetter, PT, WCC, DCCT
The Rolling Stones may have said it best when they sang, “You can’t always get what you want,” a sentiment that also applies to wound care. A common frustration among certified wound care clinicians is working with other clinicians who have limited current wound care education and knowledge. This situation worsens when these clinicians are making treatment recommendations or writing treatment orders not based on current wound-healing principles or standards of care. (more…)
Assessing moisture and pressure risk in elderly patients continues to be a focus for clinicians in all settings, particularly long-term care. Ongoing research challenges our ideas about and practices for cleansing and protecting damaged skin. Until recently, most wound care clinicians have cleansed long-term care patients’ skin with mild soap and water. But several studies have shown pH-balanced cleansers are more efficient than soap and water for cleansing the skin of incontinent patients.
Various terms are used to describe skin breakdown related to moisture—incontinence-associated dermatitis, perineal dermatitis, diaper rash, intertriginal dermatitis, intertrigo, moisture-related skin damage, moisture-associated skin damage, and even periwound dermatitis. This article uses moisture-associated skin damage (MASD) because it encompasses many causes of skin breakdown related to moisture. Regardless of what we call the condition, we must do everything possible to prevent this painful and costly problem.
Start with an overall assessment of the patient’s skin. Consider the texture and note dryness, flaking, redness, lesions, macerated areas, excoriation, denudement, and other color changes. (See Identifying pressure and moisture characteristics by clicking the PDF icon above.)
Assessing MASD risk
A patient’s risk of MASD can be assessed in several ways. Two of the most widely used pressure-ulcer risk scales, the Norton and Braden scales, address moisture risk. The Norton and Braden subscales should drive your plan for preventing skin breakdown related to moisture or pressure. The cause of breakdown (moisture, pressure, or shear/friction) must be identified, because treatment varies with the cause.
Both the Norton and Braden scales capture activity, mobility, and moisture scores. The Braden scale addresses sensory perception, whereas the Norton scale identifies mental condition. (See Subscales identifying pressure, shear, and moisture risk by clicking the PDF icon above.) Also, be aware that two scales have been published for perineal risk, but neither has been used widely.
You must differentiate pressure- and moisture-related conditions to determine correct treatment. Patients who are repositioned by caregivers are at risk for friction or shear. Also, know that agencies report pressure-ulcer prevalence. Care providers no longer classify mucous-membrane pressure areas in skin prevalence surveys; mucous membranes aren’t skin and don’t have the same tissue layers. Furthermore, don’t report skin denudement from moisture (unless pressure is present) in prevalence surveys.
When moisture causes skin breakdown
Skin has two major layers—epidermis and dermis. The epidermis itself has five layers: The outermost is the stratum corneum; it contains flattened, keratin protein–containing cells, which aid water absorption. These cells contain water-soluble compounds called natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which are surrounded by a lipid layer to keep NMF within the cell. When skin is exposed to moisture, its temperature decreases, the barrier function weakens, and skin is more susceptible to pressure and friction/shear injury. Also, when urea in urine breaks down into ammonia, an alkaline pH results, which may reactivate proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes in the stool. (See Picturing moisture and pressure effects by clicking the PDF icon above.)
Caring for moisture-related skin breakdown
The standard of care for moisture-related skin breakdown includes four major components: cleanse, moisturize, protect, and contain. Specific products used for each component vary with the facility’s product formulary.
Gently wash the area using a no-rinse cleanser with a pH below 7.0. Don’t rub the skin. Pat dry.
Use creams containing emollients or humectants. Humectants attract water to skin cells and help hold water in the cells; don’t use these products if the skin is overhydrated. Emollients slow water loss from skin and replace intracellular lipids.
Options for skin protectants include:
• liquid film-forming acrylate sprays or wipes
• ointments with a petroleum, zinc oxide, or dimethicone base
• skin pastes. Don’t remove these products totally at each cleansing, but do remove stool, urine, or drainage from the surface and apply additional paste afterward. Every other day, remove the paste down to the bare skin using a no-rinse cleanser or mineral oil.
Be sure to separate skinfolds and use products that wick moisture rather than trap it. These may include:
• commercial moisture-wicking products
• a light dusting with powder containing refined cornstarch or zinc oxide—not cornstarch from the kitchen or powder with talc as the only active ingredient
• abdominal pads.
To keep moisture away from skin, use absorbent underpads with wicking properties, condom catheters (for males), fecal incontinence collectors, fecal tubes (which require a healthcare provider order), or adult briefs with wicking or gel properties. Call a certified ostomy or wound care nurse for tips on applying and increasing wear time for fecal incontinence collectors.
If 4″ × 4″ gauze pads or ABD pads are saturated more frequently than every 2 hours, consider applying an ostomy or specially designed wound pouch to the area. Collecting drainage allows measurement and protects skin from the constant wetness of a saturated pad.
Don’t neglect the basics, for example, know that wet skin is more susceptible to breakdown. Turn the patient and change his or her position on schedule. Change linens and underpads when damp, and consider using a low-air-loss mattress or bed or mattress with microclimate technology.
Also, be aware that fungal rashes should be treated with appropriate medications. If the patient’s skin isn’t too moist, consider creams that absorb into the skin; a skin-protecting agent can be used as a barrier over the cream. Besides reviewing and using the standards of care, you may refer to the Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis Intervention Tool, which has categories related to skin damage. See the “Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis Intervention Tool” (IADIT).
Bottom line on skin breakdown
To help prevent skin breakdown related to moisture, assess patients’ skin appropriately, determine treatment using evidence-based guidelines, and implement an appropriate plan of care.
Black JM, Gray M, Bliss DZ, et al. MASD part 2: incontinence-associated dermatitis and intertriginous dermatitis: a consensus. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2011;38(4):359-70.
Borchert K, Bliss DZ, Savik K, Radosevich DM. The incontinence-associated dermatitis and its severity instrument: development and validation. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2010;37(5):527-35.
Doughty D. Differential assessment of trunk wounds: pressure ulceration versus incontinence-associated dermatitis versus intertriginous dermatitis. Ostomy Wound Manage. 2012;58(4):20-2.
Doughty D, Junkin J, Kurz P, et al. Incontinence-associated dermatitis: consensus statements, evidence-based guidelines for prevention and treatment, and current challenges. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2012;39(3):303-15.
Gray M, Beeckman D, Bliss DZ, et al. Incontinence-associated dermatitis: a comprehensive review and update. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2012;
Gray M, Black JM, Baharestani MM, et al. Moisture-associated skin damage: overview and pathophysiology. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2011;38(3):233-41.
National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel and European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. Prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers: clinical practice guideline.Washington, DC: National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel; 2009.
In health care, we frequently use the terms formulary and protocol interchangeably even though they have different meanings. A formulary is an official list of available dressings, products, and medications. A protocol is a roadmap or guideline on how to use the formulary.
Formularies became popular several years ago when reimbursement changed to bundling and wound-product costs were included in the routine cost of care rather than separately billable. In an effort to control costs, hospitals, home health agencies, and long-term care facilities began exclusive partner agreements with supply and buying groups. (“You use our products exclusively and we’ll give you a huge discount on cost.”)
A good formulary not only can help save money. It can also assist in streamlining care delivery, reducing waste, and directing treatment decisions. But on the flip side, using formularies can have disastrous results. I realized this last week while speaking on the phone with a wound clinician who’d called to ask for wound treatment ideas for a hospice patient. As she described the situation, it became apparent that the patient’s symptoms definitely pointed to high levels of bacteria in the wound. As I began sharing recommendations for treatment ideas, she kept responding: “Nope. Can’t use that, not on our formulary.” “Nope, not on formulary.” The only options available on her hospice formulary were hydrocolloid, hydrogel, or foam dressings, none of which had antibacterial properties.
Providing an appropriate standard of care shouldn’t be dictated by a formulary, and choosing substandard care just because the patient is in hospice isn’t acceptable or appropriate. Evidence-based guidelines, wound characteristics, underlying complications, and patient care goals should dictate management and treatment.
To ensure your formulary is adequate, determine if it includes a variety of product categories, and negotiate the ability to go off formulary if needed. Although cost control is essential, clinicians need access to products and therapies that yield positive outcomes. One size doesn’t fit all in wound care.
Donna Sardina, RN, MHA, WCC, CWCMS, DWC, OMS
Editor-in-Chief Wound Care Advisor
Cofounder, Wound Care Education Institute
In the current healthcare environment, wound care practitioners need to capitalize on all available reimbursement avenues for care delivery and wound care supplies and dressings. And when it comes to reimbursement, there’s one constant: The rules change constantly. Whether these changes always benefit the patient is questionable. Nowhere is this more evident than in acute-care settings. Clinicians constantly are challenged to make sure their patient-care decisions comply with current Medicare reimbursement guidelines. (And if you’re not sure about today’s guidelines, be prepared for the guidelines to change tomorrow.) (more…)