Wound Assessment and Documentation

Heidi Cross's picture

Since the advent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), I haven’t done much flying, but I love travel and I love flying. One of my favorite experiences is a window seat at about 30,000 feet on a clear sunny day. The views can be spectacular – whether flying across the Rockies or the Plains or any of the stunning and varied scenery of this country or the world. A couple of my most memorable flights involved flying into New York City with views of the New York skyline with Lady Liberty in clear sight, or into Washington, DC with clear views of the Mall, the Jefferson Monument, and the Capitol. The Alps and the Rockies are incredibly awe-inspiring, beautiful, and breathtaking. From there, you get a good overall picture of the landscape.

Holly Hovan's picture

When assessing and documenting a wound, it is important to note the amount and type of wound exudate (drainage). Using our senses is a large part of the initial wound assessment, followed by accurate documentation. Wound exudate or drainage gives us significant information about what is going on with the wound, all the way down to a cellular level, and it is one of the wound components that guide our topical treatments. As mentioned in prior blogs, a dry cell is a dead cell, but a wound with too much moisture will also have delayed healing. Additionally, infection, poor nutrition, impaired mobility, impaired sensory perception, and even malignancy in the wound can impair the healing process.
In acute wounds, drainage typically decreases over several days while the wound heals, whereas in chronic wounds, a large amount of drainage is suggestive of prolonged inflammation with failure to move into the proliferative phase of wound healing. An increase in drainage with malodor can be an indication of infection and should be treated appropriately based on the overall picture and goals of wound care.
There are many different types, consistencies, colors, and characteristics of wound drainage. In this blog, we discuss the most common types and what they could mean.

Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine's picture

By Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine Journal Review Club

The treatment of wounds has advanced significantly over the years and has involved a variety of therapy options, but the percentage of wounds that heal after 12 weeks remains at a mere 40%. One idea to improve wound healing is to improve diagnostic imaging of wounds, similar to the technological advances seen in many other specialties. Wound healing is costly, especially given that many wounds are hard to heal or there is difficulty in identifying the best course of treatment for the wound. If the current wound healing treatments show minimal improvement in four weeks and there are still thousands of bacteria-forming units on the wound, the clinician should re-evaluate the therapies being utilized and consider a change in treatment.

Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine's picture

By Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine Journal Review Club

A diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is a wound that has a higher risk of becoming chronic, leading to amputation and, in some cases, even death. Currently, the Wagner and Texas classification are used worldwide to assess the extent of diabetic foot lesion. The authors of this article believe that there is a lack of wound treatment principles based on both classification systems. In the article, they have summarized the STAGE principles of wound treatment for clinical practice based on the Wagner and Texas classification system. The STAGE principle refers to surgical intervention during wound treatment of a DFU. With a focus on the anatomical layers of the wound, the management of blood supply, layer by layer incision to the infected area, maintenance of adequate wound drainage, and step by step treatment of the wound. STAGE is the management of an ulcer through its anatomical layers. Skeleton, Tendon, Angiogenesis, Granulation, and Epithelialization.

Holly Hovan's picture
Wound Drainage

By Holly M. Hovan, MSN, GERO-BC, APRN, CWOCN-AP

Wound assessment is one of the initial steps in determining the plan of care, changes in treatment, and the choice of key players in wound management. However, wound assessment needs to be accurately understood and documented by frontline staff to paint a true picture of what is happening with the wound.

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Wound photo documentation captures a visual reference and helps provide a timeline for healing status for the patient’s medical record. Pictures in wound care can be used to ensure accuracy of measurements, to encourage objective assessments, to reduce the risk of misinterpreting the cause of the wound, as a teaching resource to both patients and new clinicians, and to encourage the use of evidence-based practices. In providing wound care from a distance such as through telewound services, wound photos are taken to help in diagnosis and treatment. The quality of the photo may vary depending on the person taking the photo (clinician, caregiver, patient). However, the emphasis is on using the photo in conjunction with the patient’s clinical wound descriptions and medical history, thereby evaluating the wound, treatment plan, and healing progress. Clinical documentation is a legal, moral, economic, and professional responsibility. Wound photos supplement the written record but should never replace it. Despite the value of wound photography, not all health care settings provide wound photo documentation software or include this as a part of their wound care policies and procedures. The facility or agency should always discuss this issue with the risk manager or legal counsel because each state has its own rules on the use of images.

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Benchmarking: Benchmarking is using published wound outcomes reported by others as a framework within which to assess your facility’s outcomes and potential need for improved care.

Chronic wound: A chronic wound is a wound that has failed to progress towards healing in 30 days or more. There are varying factors that can cause a wound to stall, such as infection or a prolonged inflammatory phase. It is important to document the wound’s progress, any stalling factors, and interventions put into place to restart the healing cascade.

Digital wound measuring tool: Digital wound measuring tools include devices that may provide two- or three-dimensional assessment (length, width, depth, surface area) of a wound with electronic medical record software integration and may not require physical contact.

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Multiple electronic medical record (EMR) systems are being utilized across the health care spectrum. However, these systems do not always contain documentation elements that capture specialty care such as wound care. Workflow and synchronization within the EMR are necessary to manage and support good wound care outcomes. When setting up the EMR system at your facility, consider documentation elements such as built-in templates, algorithms, and designs that are being used in the workflow analysis. Regulations should guide your decisions in this process because not all health care settings have the same requirements (outpatient wound care clinics, long-term care, home health care, etc.).

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Up to 20% of all US medicolegal claims and more than 10% of settlements are wound related. Documentation is essential for all health care settings; however, there are differences in each setting. Knowing your clinical setting’s requirements from a documentation standpoint is critical in meeting documentation needs. Every setting has policies and procedures for skin and wound care that reflect current clinical and operational guidelines approved by the facility. Facilities should consider standardized workflow to provide a systematic process to capture, generate, track, store, retrieve, and retain documents of the medical record. These clinical workflows should be reviewed and updated routinely to avoid denial of claims based on missing documentation elements.

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Continuity of care has always been the heart of practicing medicine and is especially important for wound care. Continuity of care in wound management equals better outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and satisfaction rates from patients. In providing continuity of care, wound care providers face challenges of time constraints to become acquainted with their patient and to build a rapport while simultaneously learning about their patient’s wound history. The electronic medical record (EMR) is vital in supporting continuity of care. These platforms enable the medical record to be in a central place for providers and clinicians to access, modify, and use to communicate about their patient’s progress.