Trading Places: Encouraging Wound Care Providers to Take the Patient's Perspective

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by Cheryl Carver, LPN, WCC, CWCA, FACCWS, DAPWCA, CLTC

If you could trade places with one person for one day, who would it be? Your first thought may be an Olympian, celebrity, or even a superhero. Who wouldn't want to be awarded a gold medal, walk the red carpet, or wear a cape to soar above the big city? One thing remains certain, not one of us would choose to be one of our wound care patients. There is definitely nothing appealing about having a chronic wound.

Education for Wound Prevention and Patient Compassion

I work as an educator. My goal is to not only educate physicians and nursing staff about wound care, but to try and allure them into looking at the world out of the patient’s eyes. I speak to many health care professionals throughout the country. I can preach to the choir all day long about prevention, wound types, treatments and so on...but until I can engage the audience, I will not be any different than someone standing up in front of the room spewing out wound care facts.

Often times I convey what it would be like to experience being immobile confined in a wet bed. Or that incontinence care for infants should not differ when compared to the disabled. Many health care professionals lack empathy and compassion. When someone is ill or suffering, we should have the utmost kindness and compassion towards him or her.

Pathways to Prevention: My Personal Experience with a Non-healing Wound

I want to share a short story with you. There was 47-year-old woman named Linda, with a long-standing history of diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease. Linda had a stroke leaving her with left side hemiparesis. Linda continued on loving life, despite her ailments. She especially enjoyed having her seven month old grandson over. One day her grandson was moving around hastily in his baby walker. He accidentally bumped into her foot injuring her toe. A non-healing wound developed, worsening to gangrene. Linda eventually had an above the knee amputation.

While Linda was in the hospital recovering from her amputation, she developed stage IV pressure ulcers to her coccyx and bilateral trochanters. Linda's daughter went to visit her one evening and helped take her mother off of the bedpan. What she saw frightened her beyond belief. There was a large, draining, smelly wound. She later learned that these were bedsores from not being turned or repositioned. After discharge, Linda went weekly to the wound care center for close to a year where she endured weekly debridements and a failed flap closure. Later, Linda then died in her daughter's arms due to sepsis.

The truth is, Linda was my mother. My personal experiences have given me an immense amount of compassion and empathy for my patients. I chose to transform my painful experience into a positive rewarding career in wound care. Reaching out to so many patients, caregivers, and health care professionals brings a great deal of happiness to my life. What may have been a terrible and sad story, ended up being a blessing to me.

About the Author
Cheryl Carver is an independent wound educator and consultant. Carver's experience includes over a decade of hospital wound care and hyperbaric medicine. Carver single-handedly developed a comprehensive educational training manual for onboarding physicians and is the star of disease-specific educational video sessions accessible to employee providers and colleagues. Carver educates onboarding providers, in addition to bedside nurses in the numerous nursing homes across the country. Carver serves as a wound care certification committee member for the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy, and is a board member of the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society Mid-West Chapter.

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.

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