By: Mary Brennan, RN, MBA, CWON and Diane Krasner, PhD, RN, CWCN, CWS, MAPWCA, FAAN
By Hy-Tape International
Infections are one of the most serious complications associated with wounds. Even for wounds resulting from clean surgery, studies find the infection rate to be 8% among the general population, and 25% among those above 60 years old.1 This makes infection prevention one of the most important components of effective wound management. By implementing wound care best practices using effective, sterile medical tape, nurses and other health care professionals can make dressings more secure and reduce the risk of cross contamination, improving patient outcomes and promoting rapid wound healing.2,3,4
The Essential Role of Medical Adhesives in Preventing Infection
Given the high prevalence of infections in acute and chronic wounds, it is important for health care professionals to take steps to reduce their patients' risk. Infection can have many negative side effects, including inflammation, pain, delayed wound healing, sepsis, and even death.3,4 By implementing infection prevention best practices and properly securing dressings using sterile medical tape, it is possible to reduce the risk of these complications and help patients heal faster. It also may be possible to reduce the overall cost of treatment, as the cost of hospital associated infection in the U.S. amounts to between $28.4 to $33.8 billion each year.5
Identifying Risk Factors for Infection
Understanding why wounds become infected is an important first step in reducing the risk of infection. There are many reasons a wound may become infected, and some patients are at significantly greater risk than others. Nurses and other health care professionals must learn to recognize risk factors and take the appropriate steps to address these risks.
Insecure wound dressings: Improper dressing practices (and the use of low-quality medical adhesives) can cause the dressing to become dislodged due to excess moisture or physical activity. This makes it very important to choose nurse-approved wound care products.
Medical tape cross-contamination: Many health care professionals use the same roll of tape for multiple patients, carrying the roll with them as they go about their duties. This has the potential to introduce bacteria or other microbes to the wound area, and can present a higher risk of infection. Bacteria can survive for extended periods of time, even on hospital surfaces or tape. This makes it extremely important that health care professionals to take steps to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination, such as only using a single roll of tape for each patient.6,
Incontinence: Incontinence can be a major risk factor for infections, especially when the wound dressing is insecure or the medical adhesive is not moisture-resistant. This can allow fecal matter to enter the wound site. Incontinence can also cause excess moisture, which can cause the wound dressing to become loose and further increase the risk of infection.7
Advanced age: We have already seen that the prevalence of infections is more than three times greater in those over 60, compared to the general population.1 There are numerous reasons for this. Those of advanced age are much more likely to suffer from a weakened immune system, incontinence, and other issues that may directly or indirectly increase their risk of infection. This makes it imperative that the elderly be regularly assessed for infection, and for their dressings to be properly secured using strong, moisture-resistant medical tape.
1. Noman TA, Raja'a YA, Assiraji HM, Assofi YA. Rate of wound infection after clean surgery. Saudi Med J. 2001;22(1):58-60.
2.Ubbink DT, Brölmann FE, Go PMNYH, Vermeulen H. Evidence-Based Care of Acute Wounds: A Perspective. Advances in Wound Care. 2015;4(5):286-294. doi:10.1089/wound.2014.0592.
3. HSE Office of the Nursing Services Director. National best practice and evidence based guidelines for wound management.
4. Guo S, DiPietro LA. Factors Affecting Wound Healing. Journal of Dental Research. 2010;89(3):219-229. doi:10.1177/0022034509359125.
5. Scott RD. The Direct Medical costs of Healthcare-Associated Infections in U.S. Hospitals and the Benefits of Prevention. March 2009.
6. Rammaert, B, et al, Healthcare-Associated Mucormycosis, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol. 54, Suppl. 1, 2012.
7. How to manage incontinence-associated dermatitis. Wound Care Advisor. https://woundcareadvisor.com/how-to-manage-incontinence-associated-derma.... Published May 8, 2012. Accessed June 2, 2017.
8. Case Studies for Ostomy/Wound Care. Case Studies for Ostomy/Wound Care.
About the Company
Hy-Tape International offers high-quality adhesive tape and has served the market for 70 years. Tapes are available in strips, patches, and kit rolls giving health care providers a wide range of options for securing dressings and devices. Free product samples are available at www.hytape.com or by calling 1-800-248-0201.
Industry Voices is brought to you by health care industry sponsors. All content is developed and paid for by the sponsoring company. Kestrel Health Information, Inc. is not involved in the creation of this content. 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.