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Advanced Wound Healing Best Practices: Protection Against Litigation

Written by: Michael Fragala, PhD, MBA, RN, WCC, CSPHP, AMS

Long-term care facilities want nothing more for their patients than to help them get back on their feet. For years, skilled nurses and care teams have spent hours tracking each patient’s progress, helping diagnosticians and physicians determine what route to take next. They use tried-and-true techniques to focus on advanced wound management so patients can heal faster.

Those with chronic illnesses or autoimmune disorders often suffer from recurring wounds, pressure injuries, and infections that just won’t seem to heal. Advanced wound healing benefits from proper documentation. Not only does it improve patient outcomes, but it also helps facilities avoid costly litigation settlements from patients and their families.


Poorly Implemented Advanced Wound Management Comes with Costly Fines

Industry experts have long warned against the risks of improper documentation in advanced wound healing methods. One survey noted that inaccurate notes led to higher outcomes of sepsis, gangrene, prolonged pain, ICU transfers, amputations, and, occasionally, fatalities. As a result, wounds are the second most common reason for malpractice suits in nursing homes.

It’s not just poor documentation methods that lead to problems, however. Even if appropriate procedures are applied to patients with advanced wounds, patients can still file for malpractice and win in court. Some judgments have reached as high as $312 million.

Innovative Technology Can Reduce Risk of Litigation

Even with the best care, manual documentation in advanced wound healing is subject to human error. From sloppy handwriting to misspelled words to failure to upload an image to a patient’s file, one wrong move could cost a facility — and a patient.

While technology has rapidly kept up with patient care, the numbers still show that existing procedures and methodologies need improvement. Skilled nursing facilities have an alarmingly high incidence rate of pressure injuries, averaging up to 30%, according to the National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel (NPIAP).

Technology programmed to input the same information can remove those problems and help staff avoid burnout. Repetitive tasks can now be entrusted to a machine so that nurses and other care team members can put their time to better use in patient care.

What Digital Wound Imaging Brings to the Table

Digital wound imaging takes accurate, detailed images of wounds over the course of their many stages in the healing process. Nurses and care teams rely on this up-to-date documentation to better determine the next steps for the patient.

These images can also help determine the risk for infection, how long a wound will take to heal, and any new factors that might hinder the wound’s closure. Patients can also see these wounds and their progress and participate in helping themselves to get better faster.

These tools can help a facility spread too thin and regain some of its time. Since employees can count on a digital wound imaging tool to deliver real-time results regularly, they won’t have to worry about whether or not a treatment plan is working.

How to Implement New Wound Care Processes in Your Facility

Nurses and caretakers in long-term facilities are already stretched for time when it comes to the care of their patients. Introducing a new procedure and tool can be stressful, especially if your facility is already short-staffed or overflowing with new patients.

You can make the process easier for your teams by holding multiple training sessions for your staff. Keep the training documentation around, provide easy access, and develop a foolproof manual that helps employees adjust to the new procedure. Don’t just assume that your employees will know how to use these tools immediately.

Emphasize the benefits as well when speaking to employees about digital imaging. Show them the results from accurate technology and be transparent about the risks of using outdated techniques. If wound care and advanced wound healing are a problem in your facility, research past incidents. Find out what went wrong, and demonstrate how digital wound imaging could have mitigated the problem.

Streamline Advanced Wound Healing With Digital Wound Imaging

Healthcare facilities that deal with long-term, chronically ill patients need strategies to make their patients’ lives better.

If you have patients returning with wounds, infections, and PI’s that just won’t heal, it may be time to invest in more advanced procedures and technology to help your staff. Consider digital wound imaging to heal patients, relieve overworked staff, and reduce the risk of expensive settlements.

If you’d like to learn more about advanced wound healing best practices, contact Joerns today.

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