The “latest and greatest” vs. the basics

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

If you’re keeping up on wound care, you know a lot of new things are coming to market with enough decent science behind them to make them reasonable options to consider in your practice. And as true-blooded Americans and citizens of the post-industrialized world, we want what’s newest, fastest, and best in class in everything. It’s just our nature.

But does it truly serve us to be eager to try new therapies even when the current treatment plan is successful? Perhaps. We know we must never close our eyes to new developments in our field that can lead to better outcomes. Knowing when and what to change can lead to better outcomes for the patient, the wound, and our collective pocketbook.

I’ve long maintained we can achieve excellent-quality wound care if we just stick to the basics the vast majority of the time. Why? Systemic, psychosocial, and local factors all affect wound healing—not just the dressing or cream. Our job is to provide the optimum environment possible for wound healing. That requires us to look at and support the whole body toward optimum health, not solely the wound.

The basics begin with identifying the cause of the wound and implementing interventions to reduce, control, or eliminate the cause. Next, we strive to manage local and psychosocial factors by choosing topical products that will maintain moisture balance, keep the wound warm, and protect it. If the wound doesn’t show progress toward healing within 2 weeks (or as expected, given the patient’s overall condition and ability to heal), we need to reevaluate the plan and begin making changes.

The best rule is to make one change at a time. That makes it much easier to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Once all the basics are in place and required changes have been made, if healing is still stalled or nonexistent, consider trying the available new products and specialty products.

Never close your clinical mind to advances in the field. To do that would be a disservice to your patients. But you should change the treatment plan only when a change is needed—not just for the sake of changing it.

Donna Sardina, RN, MHA, WCC, CWCMS, DWC, OMS
Wound Care Advisor
Cofounder, Wound Care Education Institute
Plainfield, Illinois

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