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Advanced Wound Infection Prevention: A Guide for SNFs

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

Advanced wound care requires consistency, accuracy, and diligence. Assessing wounds and their response to treatment with traditional methods can be imprecise, leading to delayed healing or chronic recurrence.

Wound care technology can make all the difference in reducing advanced wound infection and implementing the most appropriate treatment. With these technologies, skilled nurses and care teams can make nursing diagnoses as needed and shift wound care treatment to help patients heal quickly. Such efficient care can boost the morale of patients and raise the reputation of your skilled nursing facility (SNF).


Signs & Symptoms of an Infected Wound

Left untreated, an advanced wound infection can quickly spread, resulting in significant health issues that could have otherwise been avoided with proper care. Once infected, a wound may have a discharge or become tender, itchy, swollen, or hot to the touch. Discoloration like red streaks or yellow, green, or brownish drainage indicates a possible infection. Strong odors and feverishness can also be signs of an infection.

Causes of Advanced Wound Infection in Skilled Nursing Facilities

One of the major causes of wound infection in skilled nursing facilities is inadequate  wound management and maintenance practices. Inadequate wound care can create an environment where bacteria and microbes can flourish, leading to infections. Inadequate hand hygiene for staff and inadequate environmental cleaning techniques also contribute to wound infection risk in these settings.

Inadequate ventilation, unclean or unsanitary conditions, improper disposal of contaminated waste, and overcrowding are other common factors that may result in wound infection among patients in a skilled nursing facility.

To decrease the occurrence of wound infections, keep bedstherapeutic support surfaces, and wheelchairs clean. If your facility is currently short-staffed, consider leveraging an asset management platform. A comprehensive asset management platform connects directly to your EMR and helps you stay on top of vital operations such as inventory control, schedule repairs, and ensure the safe operation of all related equipment.

It is also critical to make sure that any bandages or dressings used on a wound are clean and changed regularly. Reducing skin contact with chemicals, wetness, and excess temperature can also help prevent infection.

Common Risk Factors for Wound Infection

In addition to the precautions described in the previous section, staff should receive training on delayed wound risks to be well-equipped to intervene at the first sign of infection.

When assessing an advanced wound infection, keep the following in mind:

  • What are the symptoms or signs?
  • What is the patient’s level of pain?
  • What is the color of the wound bed and surrounding skin?
  • What are the wound dimensions?
  • Is there swelling?

Advanced wound infection risks can increase if when the following is observed:

  • Foreign particles or dirt is present in the wound
  • The wound is large and deep; or is irregularly shaped with jagged edges
  • The wound was caused by a dusty, rusty, or contaminated object

Health conditions and external factors that can increase the risk of infection:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Vascular Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Immobile patients on chronic bed rest
  • Nutrient and vitamin deficiencies

Using Digital Wound Imaging to Identify Infection and Reduce Delayed Healing

Delayed wound healing caused by infection can cause extreme physical and psychological distress for those suffering from it, particularly if the healing process takes an extended amount of time.

Digital wound imaging is a tremendous asset in the fight against infection-induced delayed healing. This technology allows for more target treatment by making it easier to visualize harmful bacteria and measure wounds at a patient’s bedside.

Digital wound imaging can also be used to monitor wound progress over an extended period of time, making it much easier to identify potential problems before healing delay or worse outcomes become inevitable.

Final Thoughts: Wound Infection Prevention in Skilled Nursing Facilities

In conclusion, reducing wound infection lies in establishing a holistic approach. A combination of accurate assessments and digital wound technology can ensure wounds are being managed with utmost care. To keep ahead of such ailments and provide safe environments for all involved, following these preventive tips is necessary.

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