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Managing chronic venous leg ulcers — what’s the latest evidence?

Managing chronic venous leg ulcers — what’s the latest evidence?

Chronic venous leg ulcers (CVLUs) affect nearly 2.2 million Americans annually, including an estimated 3.6% of people over the age of 65. Given that CVLU risk increases with age, the global incidence is predicted to escalate dramatically because of the growing population of older adults. Annual CVLU treatment-related costs to the U.S. healthcare system alone are upwards of $3.5 billion, which are directly related to long healing times and recurrence rates of over 50%.

CVLUs are not only challenging and costly to treat, but the associated morbidity significantly reduces quality of life. That makes it critical for clinicians to choose evidence-based treatment strategies to achieve maximum healing outcomes and minimize recurrence rates of these common debilitating conditions. These strategies, which include compression therapy, specialized dressings, topical and oral medications, and surgery, are used to reduce edema, facilitate healing, and avert recurrence. (more…)

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Hyperbaric oxygen therapy as adjunct therapy for wound care

hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Why would a patient with a wound spend almost 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, in a locked chamber receiving 100% oxygen? The answer is that medical grade hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can be a valuable adjunct therapy for selected types of wounds.
In this article, I’ll focus on hospitals and clinics that follow guidelines from the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society as I give you a brief overview of how HBOT works and its use in wound care. (more…)

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Preparing the wound bed: Basic strategies, novel methods

The goal of wound-bed preparation is to create a stable, well-vascularized environment that aids healing of chronic wounds. Without proper preparation, even the most expensive wound-care products and devices are unlikely to produce positive outcomes.

To best prepare the wound bed, you need to understand wound healing physiology and wound care basics, as well as how to evaluate the patient’s overall health and manage wounds that don’t respond to treatment. (See Normal wound healing.) (more…)

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Who can perform sharp wound debridement?

Nurses and therapists often wonder if their license permits them to perform sharp wound debridement. Scope of practice varies significantly from state to state, so it’s imperative to check your state for specific guidance, but we can address some of the challenges clinicians face in deciding whether they can perform this valuable service for patients.

Sharp debridement vs. other forms

(more…)

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Case study: Maggots help heal a difficult wound

Using maggots to treat wounds dates back to 1931 in this country. Until the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s, maggots were used routinely. In the 1980s, interest in them revived due to the increasing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

At Select Specialty Hospital Houston in Texas, we recently decided to try maggot therapy for a patient with a particularly difficult wound. In this case study, we share our experience. (more…)

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Nutritional considerations in patients with pressure ulcers

Optimizing nutritional status is a key strategy both in preventing and managing pressure ulcers. In patients across all care settings, compromised nutrition— as from poor intake, undesired weight loss, and malnutrition—increases the risk of pressure ulcers. It contributes to altered immune function, impaired collagen synthesis, and decreased tensile strength. In many cases, malnutrition also contributes to wound chronicity and increases the risk for delayed and impaired wound healing. In patients with chronic wounds, such as pressure ulcers, a chronic inflammatory state can induce catabolic metabolism, malnutrition, and dehydration. (more…)

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Empowering patients to play an active role in pressure ulcer prevention

Developing a pressure ulcer can cause the patient pain, lead to social isolation, result in reduced mobility, and can even be fatal. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, estimated costs for each pressure ulcer range from $37,800 to $70,000, and the total annual cost of pressure ulcers in the United States is an estimated $11 billion.

Nurses understand their role in preventing pressure ulcers, but what role do patients play in the prevention plan? Nurses need to empower the patient to be an active member in health promotion activities and participate in prevention measures. In this article, I highlight the importance of incorporating pressure ulcer prevention into patient education for high-risk patients as a way to empower patients. Empowered patients can help improve outcomes and reduce overall costs of this hospital-acquired complication. (more…)

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Case study: Peristomal pyoderma gangrenosum

As a wound care specialist, you have learned about many skin conditions, some so unusual and rare that you probably thought you would never observe them. I’ve been a nurse for 38 years, with the last 10 years in wound care, and that’s certainly what I thought. But I was wrong. Let me tell you about my challenging patient with an unusual skin condition.

A perplexing patient (more…)

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Time to select a support surface

By Donna Sardina, RN, MHA, WCC, CWCMS, DWC, OMS

Having the proper support surface for beds and wheelchairs is imperative in preventing pressure ulcers. “Pressure” ulcers are named that for a reason—pressure is the primary cause of interruption of blood flow to the tissue. Unfortunately, guidelines for support surface selection tend to make recommendations for the type of surface to use after a pressure ulcer has developed. Another factor that complicates matters is the development of deep-tissue injuries. These injuries start at the bone level, which means that often, tissue damage is extensive before we see visible signs and realize that the support surface we chose might not have been effective enough. (more…)

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Staying out of sticky situations: How to choose the right tape for your patient

By Ann-Marie Taroc, MSN, RN, CPN

Are you using the wrong kind of medical tape on your patients? Although we strive to provide the safest care possible, some nurses may not realize that medical tape used to secure tubes and dressings can cause harm. The harm may stem from using the wrong product or using a product incorrectly, which can cause adhesive failure or skin injury. (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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