High-Tech vs. Low-Tech Wound Management: Which is Best?
by Paula Erwin-Toth MSN, RN, CWOCN, CNS, FAAN
What's the best approach to wound management: use of the latest advanced technology or "back to basics" treatment methods? How many times have you, the experienced wound clinician, been asked this question? It is only natural for people (especially patients and their families) to gravitate to a solution that seems to offer a quick fix for a very complex problem.
Even other health care providers who are not experienced in wound management may be tempted to immediately select a high-tech solution to manage a wound that a lower-tech approach may be more suitable for. Let's face it – we are all attracted to advances in technology, no matter what the field.
Factors to Consider in Managing Wounds
Have you ever presented a lecture on managing the care of people with complex wounds? You discussed the need to understand the etiology, conduct an in-depth wound assessment, identify co-morbid conditions and plan how to optimize the patient’s intrinsic and extrinsic wound environments including sociocultural and economic factors. You discuss the wide varieties of wound management options – high-tech, low-tech and in-between; and how to select an approach best for your particular patient.
At the end of your presentation several eager attendees wait in line to speak with you. Some come with photos of complex wounds, some ask for more information regarding education and resources and there always seems to be one eager person that asks "But what do you use to treat a stage III pressure ulcer?" You can see in their eyes they are earnest and want to give their patients with wounds the very best care. In many cases this was the first wound conference they ever attended and a few have told me, sometimes tearfully, their employer expects them to become the wound resource person when they get home-all after one conference!
I give them a big sympathetic hug and invite them to have a cup of coffee with me. What I hear is usually a cascade of fear and frustration. "The people I work with say all full-thickness wound should have negative pressure wound therapy, others say it is only the support surface that matters, some say they all need flaps, others want to use plain gauze and some just want to transfer the patient and make it someone else's problem." After the venting takes place we begin to work on problem solving and assuring them it is not humanly possible for one person to solve all the wound woes of a facility.
The Best Approach to Wound Care
During such meetings, we work together to map out the challenges and opportunities in the wound management scenario. We list the stakeholders in wound care. We identify potential champions and those who might oppose new treatment initiatives and which champion may be helpful in wooing them. Just like wound management – whether your choice is high-tech or low-tech – all options in staff education and patient care should be high touch. High touch approaches help people develop a sense of investment and that they are a valued part of the decision-making process. As wound clinicians we are preparing the next generation of health care providers to carry the torch. The technologies of the future will further our abilities to prevent and heal wounds – one thing it cannot replace is the high touch approach needed to support clinicians, patients and their family caregivers in delivering effective wound care.
Do you have examples of high touch patient care that you would like to share? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your strategies. I will be presenting on this topic in future blog posts and welcome your contributions to the discussion.
About The Author
Paula Erwin-Toth has over 30 years of experience in wound, ostomy and continence care. She is a well-known author, lecturer and patient advocate who is dedicated to improving the care of people with wounds, ostomies and incontinence in the US and abroad.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.