Infection Control and Wound Management: Important Terms to Know

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By the WoundSource Editors

Antimicrobial dressings: Dressings that contain substances with antimicrobial properties, such as silver, chlorhexidine, honey, or iodine. These dressings can be effective in reducing bioburden and promoting healing.

Antimicrobial stewardship: Collective measures that are taken to slow the evolution of multidrug-resistant organisms.

Bacterial resistance: The capacity of bacteria to withstand the effects of antibiotics that are meant to kill them; this term is commonly used interchangeably with antibiotic resistance.

Biofilm: A thick layer of colonized microbes that can form in the wound tissue and impair healing. Microbes may include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Biofilm can reduce oxygen levels and the pH of the wound bed.

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI): An ionization technique that is used to analyze microbes by using a laser energy absorbing matrix to create ions from large molecules with minimal fragmentation.

Microbial specimen culture: A culture obtained through curettage or biopsy after cleansing and debridement but before antibiotic therapy has begun. The culture is used to identify pathogens that are present.

Next-generation sequencing: A DNA sequencing technology that is used to identify pathogens quickly.

Non-pathogenic colonizers: Microorganisms that do not produce disease. Most microorganisms located on individuals and wounds are non-pathogenic, although some that are non-pathogenic to certain individuals may be pathogenic to others (termed opportunistic), depending on the portal of entry and the immune system of the host.

Susceptibility testing: A laboratory procedure used to determine which antimicrobial agents will inhibit the growth of the bacteria or fungi causing a specific infection.

Systemic antibiotics: Antibiotics that are used to treat the whole body and that should be reserved for systemic infections. They are administered either orally or intravenously.

Topical antibiotics: Antibiotics that are applied to a localized area to combat superficial infection. They have a lower risk than systemic antibiotics, although there is decreased tissue penetration.

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