Managing a serious wound can be difficult when you are living with disability or are elderly, so many people require assistance to ensure their wound heals properly. Certain types of wounds are harder to look after, especially chronic wounds, as they can get infected easily – so it is important to ask for professional help if you need it. Understanding the role of nurses in wound management, and knowing when to enlist their assistance, is vital for ensuring your continued health.
The team at St Jude’s have put together this piece on wound management and how our nursing services are extremely valuable for reducing recovery times and the risk of infection.
Why Is Proper Wound Management Important?
If a wound is not properly cared for then it could become infected, take longer to heal, scar badly, or even develop into a chronic wound. A chronic wound is a wound that has not progressed through the usual stages of healing, and is taking longer to heal, or has stopped after only partially healing. A professional can provide continual attention to wound management, by replacing the wound dressings and bandages, checking the healing process, and then making changes to the wound care routine when needed. Often elderly people, or those living with disability, will benefit from the assistance of a health professional who can carry out this specialist wound management.
Causes of Chronic Wounds
Immobility: If the patient cannot move, then the persistent pressure can restrict blood flow and cause pressure injuries or bed sores.
Surgery: Sometimes, after serious operations, the incisions made can become infected.
Trauma injury: A serious injury can cause wounds that take a long time to heal.
Burns: Deep burns are notorious for healing slowly, and they can easily become infected.
Medical conditions: Underlying conditions like diabetes or types of vascular disease can make chronic wounds more likely.
Infections: Certain types of infection can lead to chronic wounds, including Bairnsdale and Buruli ulcers, or Trophic ulcers.
What Are the Main Principles of Wound Management?
This refers to when the wound stops bleeding, which usually happens on its own, but in some cases needs to be assisted – through pressure or elevation. In some cases it may even need assistance through a tight band near the wound to help restrict the blood flow. Other times, the wound may need to be stitched up.
Cleaning the wound:
This is a vital stage of wound management, as it can ensure the wound does not get infected. Firstly, the health professional must disinfect the wound with antiseptic, and decontaminate it by removing any foreign items like dirt. Then the wound must be washed with saline solution. For high-risk wounds, the person should then take some antibiotics.
Analgesia (or in simple terms a pain killer) is used to make the process of wound healing easier for the patient, and refers to the use of things like local anaesthetic. Systemic pain killers can be used at the same time to aid pain relief, and refers to options like paracetamol.
To help the wound heal, and to reduce scarring, the edges of the wound can be manually opposed. This is done with skin adhesive strips, tissue adhesive glue, stitches, or staples.
Dressing and follow-up advice:
This step is when correct, professional wound management becomes vital. The wound must be properly dressed to avoid contamination and infection. Once this is completed, the health professional will advise the patient about when to follow up with a doctor, and they will give tips about keeping it dry and when to remove the dressing.
How Can You Avoid an Infection?
A wound can easily become infected with harmful bacteria if it is not cared for properly. Infections can slow the healing process, increase the risk of scarring, and if the bacteria causes tetanus then it could be fatal. There are some simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of infection:
Immediately wash the wound after it occurs
Then apply antibiotic ointment
Cover the wound with a bandage and replace daily, or if it gets dirty or wet
Keep it clean and dry
If you are elderly or living with disability, then an important step for avoiding serious infection is enlisting the help of a qualified nurse to assist you with wound care.
What Is a Nurse’s Role?
Nurses have a vital role in wound management, and there is actually a type of nurse who specialises in this area – a wound care nurse. Wound care nurses specialise in assessing and treating complex wounds, such as burns, ulcers, ostomies, and lacerations. They work with doctors and the patient’s care team, to develop a treatment plan that fits the patient’s needs. Wound care nurses can provide their services in a variety of settings, including hospitals, patient homes, nursing homes, and hospices.
Some of the main services that wound care nurses provide are:
Figuring out the appropriate treatment for complex wounds
Teaching patients and caregivers how to properly tend a wound
Creating a care plan for the patient to follow at home
Reporting on and maintaining an up to date health record
Types of Wounds That Need More Care
The types of wounds which usually require a wound care nurse’s assistance are chronic wounds. As chronic wounds take time to heal, a nurse can offer expert advice and treatment which will help it to get better more quickly – they also make sure it does not get any worse.
Types of chronic wounds:
Diabetic foot ulcers
Radiation poisoning wounds
St Jude’s Comprehensive Nursing Services
St Jude’s has been providing caring, professional allied health services for over 38 years, and our comprehensive NDIS nursing services are the right choice if you are suffering from chronic wounds. Our nurses offer thorough wound assessments, and we have no waiting for nursing services at the moment, which means you can receive the care you need immediately.
We are an NDIS registered provider, and so anyone with NDIS funding can access our nurses for expert wound management services. If you need help with your wound management, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today.