Knowing Your Patient’s Wound Type is Critical in Long-Term Care

600,000-plus people are diagnosed with leg ulcers each year, medical statistics show. Pressure ulcers are the most reported but healthcare professionals must be cautious to truly know the type of ulcer that a patient has. Knowing the signs of a venous stasis ulcer versus a bedsore, for example, is extremely important as long-term care providers help a wide range of patients.

“If we don’t take the time to really get to know each resident and their history, we won’t know the risk factors and won’t be able to prevent some of these wound problems in the first place,” said Dr. James Spahn. “Regardless of the wound type, it does really come down to education. Without it, we’re in trouble.”

An article in McKnight’s Long Term Care News advocates that healthcare professionals must be proactive with their patients and know their patient’s history, risk factors, and take a team approach to diagnose a wound correctly. The article cites how residents with venous stasis disease, lymphedema, and diabetic foot ulcers have to be very careful when it comes to wound care.

“What works on one [resident] will not necessarily work for everyone, even if it is the same type of wound with basically the same underlying etiology and comorbid conditions,” said Nurse Jackie Todd, who is also a clinical education specialist for Medline Industries, Inc. “In order to achieve quality healed outcomes in the shortest amount of time, we have to step back, look from that 10,000-foot vantage point, and take a common sense approach to wound care.”

One way to combat venous stasis ulcers is through the use of compression therapy devices. Mechanical compression therapy reduces venous stasis by promoting venous blood flow and fibrinolytic activity. The devices will help even after an ulcer is healed, as oftentimes the ulcers will reoccur throughout the patient’s lifetime. Many doctors recommend treatment for these types of ulcers that involve both local wound care and adequate mechanical compression therapy.