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Chronic Wound Infection Prevention: A Strategic Approach

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

Wound healing is a complex process essential to a patient’s overall well-being. In long term care settings, it’s not uncommon for patients to get a chronic wound infection, which slows the healing process.

Slowed healing rates are problematic, as they are one of the biggest factors in how much it costs to treat a wound. There are various reasons for this, chief among them being incorrect  wound assessment and delayed detection.


Because of this, it’s important to understand how wounds heal and give healthcare teams the tools and solutions they need to better treat the patient while keeping costs down.

In this blog, we’ll review the wound-healing process, identify the factors that can cause wounds to become chronic, and review strategies for preventing chronic wound infection. Finally, we will look into one of the most effective solutions currently available to improve the quality of wound care while simultaneously reducing costs.

The Four Stages of Full Thickness Wound Healing

The wound healing process for full thickness wounds consists of four stages: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and maturation.

  1. Hemostasis: The first stage of wound healing is Hemostasis, which is the process of stopping the bleeding. During this stage, the body releases platelets and blood clots to the wound site to control bleeding. This helps to prevent further tissue damage and provides a temporary barrier to protect the wound from infection.
  2. Inflammation: The second stage of wound healing is Inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to injury. During this stage, white blood cells are sent to the wound site to remove bacteria and dead tissue and to promote healing. This Phase can last 4-6 days but infected wounds will remain in this phase for an extended period.
  3. Proliferation: The third stage of wound healing is Proliferation, which is when new tissue begins to grow. During this stage, the body produces new skin cells, blood vessels, and collagen fibers to replace the tissue lost during the injury. This stage is crucial for repairing the wound and restoring function to the affected area.
  4. Maturation: The final stage of wound healing is maturation when the new tissue becomes stronger and less susceptible to re-injury. During this stage, the body makes collagen fibers and other proteins that help make the tissue stronger and more stable. This step is important to keep the wound from getting hurt again and to help it heal in the long term.

It’s important to know that the four stages of wound healing can vary and that the time it takes for a wound to heal can depend  on how bad the injury is, how healthy the patient is, and if there are any underlying health problems. By knowing the different stages of wound healing, doctors and nurses can better tell how far along a wound is and give it the right care and treatment to help it heal faster.

Chronic wounds, however, can disrupt this natural healing process. The lack of proper treatment and care can cause a wound to remain in the inflammation stage for a prolonged period, leading to an increased risk of infection, delayed healing, and tissue damage. The prevention of chronic wound infections is crucial.

Risk Factors for Delayed Wound Healing and Infection

Patients with long-term illnesses like diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and immune system disorders are more likely to get chronic wounds and infections. These long-term illnesses can make it harder for the body to heal and make it more likely to get infections.

In addition to chronic illnesses, other factors that can increase the risk of delayed wound healing and infection include age, as older adults tend to have a slower healing process due to decreased blood circulation, nutrient deficiencies, and a weakened immune system. A patient’s weight can also contribute to wound healing difficulties, as excess weight puts added pressure on wounds, adding to the time they take to heal.

Preventing Wound Infections: A Strategic Approach

Infections in wounds can slow down the healing process dramatically, so doctors and nurses must take steps to prevent them.

The following are some effective strategies for preventing wound infections:

Maintaining Proper Hygiene: Proper hygiene is a key factor in preventing wound infections. Wounds should be cleaned regularly, and the surrounding skin should be kept clean and dry. This helps to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination and promotes faster healing.

Avoiding Re-Injury: Wounds should be protected from re-injury to prevent further damage and a delay in healing. This involves taking steps to protect the wound from factors such as pressure, friction, and environmental factors.

Adequate Nutrition: Good nutrition is essential for the wound healing process. Care facilities should make certain that their patients receive adequate nutrition that is optimized for healing and is devoid of nutritional gaps. Consultation with nutritionist, or team of nutritionists is recommended for chronic wound care

Digital Wound Imaging: Digital wound imaging technology is a powerful tool for preventing wound infections. Using high-resolution fluorescent images, healthcare teams can track how a wound is healing and establish the presence of bioburden in the wound bed. This information can be used to find and treat infections early, which lowers the risk of slow healing and damage to tissues.

The Importance of Digital Wound Imaging

Digital wound imaging is a key part of preventing chronic wound infections and treating them when they happen. Unlike traditional wound assessment methods that are highly subjective, digital imaging provides a more accurate and objective representation of the wound, reducing the risk of improper diagnosis and treatment.

The following are some benefits of using digital wound imaging:

Improving Accuracy: Digital wound imaging shows a clear and accurate image of the wound. This makes it possible to measure the wound’s size, depth, and other important characteristics accurately and consistently. This helps to eliminate subjective interpretations and ensures that the wound is properly documented.

Collecting Essential Data: fluorescent Digital wound imaging can collect important information like whether or not there is bioburden in the wound bed. This information is very important for developing good treatment plans and stopping the improper use of antimicrobials.

Improve Regulatory Compliance and Reduce Legal Risk: There are strict rules about how to care for wounds, especially in long-term care facilities. With better wound assessment, dressing choice, and documentation, the chance of legal trouble and fines can be significantly cut down.

Digital wound imaging is fast becoming a critical tool in the prevention and management of chronic wound infection. Because it can give accurate and objective information in real-time and collect important data, it is an important part of any effective wound care strategy.

Final Thoughts: Chronic Wound Infection Prevention

Chronic wound infections are a serious problem that can cause significant harm and delay healing. By knowing what causes a wound to heal slowly or get infected and having a plan for how to deal with these problems, medical professionals will be able to better prevent infections and help wounds heal faster. Digital wound imaging technology is a powerful solution that can give doctors important information to achieve this.

By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, healthcare professionals and acute-care facilities can better tackle the challenges that effective wound healing presents.

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