Diabetes Wounds: Caring for Foot Ulcers and Other Wounds

Diabetes wounds can be some of the most challenging to treat, even for the most experienced wound care professionals. As the prevalence of diabetes continues to grow, with 38% of U.S. adults having prediabetes, whether you are new to wound care or a seasoned professional, you will most likely encounter patients with diabetes on an increasing basis.

The American Diabetes Association recognizes November as American Diabetes Month, and as of 2022, diabetes has affected 37.3 million people in the United States. Having diabetes can complicate and delay the healing process of any type of wound, including pressure injuries, venous ulcers, arterial ulcers, or trauma wounds.

However, diabetes wounds can be especially pervasive, as they are known to be slow to heal, and there are numerous reasons why. One reason is that the cells most responsible for healing cannot correctly function when the patient has elevated blood sugars or has developed hyperglycemia with an increased risk for arterial disease.

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Understanding the Foundation of Wound Care Treatments

A healthy wound environment is essential for healing. The type of wound care treatment chosen can have either a positive or a negative effect on this process. Starting with the basics and adding on treatments as needed can make a big difference.

Treatment choices are based on the etiology of the wound, wound environment, and the patient’s underlying medical conditions. We’ll begin with the basics of wound care and then look at additional treatments and adjunct therapies.

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Wound Care Basics: Types of Wounds

Wound care professionals need a baseline knowledge of the different types of wounds they encounter. Correctly diagnosing and treating the wound as well as any underlying causes, will give you and the patients you care for the best chance of success.

Types of wounds are classified as either acute or chronic. Let’s first look at acute wounds, which tend to move along the healing continuum normally and usually heal within six-eight weeks.

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Managing Pressure Injuries: 6 Key Considerations

Wound care is an exciting specialty that requires continuous learning.

With various wound types and multiple wound care products and treatments available, clinicians strive to stay up to date on evidence-based practices to ensure they are providing patients with current standards of care.

Managing pressure injuries is one area of wound care that many wound care professionals encounter regularly, as they are pervasive across the healthcare continuum.

Whether you work in home health, acute care, or long-term care, you should be aware of some key concepts when managing pressure injuries, as explained by Don Wollheim, MD, FAPWCA, WCC, DWC.

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Wound Care Nurse Duties

Patients with a diverse range of health conditions rely on wound care nurses to manage their treatment and keep them safe from infection. But what exactly do wound care nurse duties include?

Wound care nurses perform a wide variety of critical services, from assessing diabetic foot conditions and mitigating infections to developing treatment plans and caring for pressure injuries.

The importance of wound care in nursing relates to the ability to reduce a patient’s pain and promote healing as quickly and completely as possible. To become a certified wound care nurse, you will need to enroll in specialized wound care courses. These courses provide nurses with the wound care information they need to remain current with evolving care standards, enhance their knowledge of skin and wound management, and stay legally defensible at bedside.

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What Happened to Practicing Wound Care Basics?

Having been involved in wound care for about 25 years, I have seen many changes in our understanding of wound healing, research evidence, and technology, often straying from wound care basics.  

As I hear my students describe common practices today and the many myths of wound care, I’m led to wonder, “What happened to starting with wound care basics for healing?”

A colleague of mine once stated there are basically two fundamentals to healing wounds: a healthy patient and a healthy wound environment. Once those are accomplished, topical treatments will not make that big of a difference.

However, clinicians often cling to some “holy grail” treatment in the form of a dressing or adjunctive modality that will somehow overcome the need to practice solid, evidence-based wound care.

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The Benefit of Mentorship in Wound Care

Whether you’re a certified wound care nurse or clinical educator seeking to share your wisdom, mentorship in wound care is invaluable to healthcare staff at any stage in their career.

According to the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Certification Board (WOCNCB), there are almost 8,000 nurses certified in wound care. The wound care profession is a cohesive community of healthcare professionals who collaborate, share knowledge, network, and support one another, defining what mentorship in wound care is all about.

Many may think the term “mentorship” is synonymous with “preceptorship.” However, while precepting shares similarities with mentoring, mentorship in wound care can be vastly different.

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WCEI and NAWCO Partner on 2022 Wild on Wounds Conference

Wound Care Education Institute (WCEI) by Relias will host the 2022 Wild on Wounds (WOW) conference from September 7-10 at the Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood, Florida. Wild on Wounds brings together clinicians from across the U.S. to network, participate in interactive sessions and hands-on workshops, and learn new treatments and technologies that enhance their knowledge and ability to care for patients.

New this year is a partnership with The National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy (NAWCO) to host the conference. NAWCO assisted WCEI with the speaker lineup to bring clinicians fresh wound care sessions they can apply to their practice.

Designed for practicing nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, and physicians, WOW offers innovative, interactive, and informative sessions including simulation workshops, live product demonstrations, debridement labs, compression labs, mock trials, an escape room, and more. Conference attendees have the opportunity to choose from 55 educational sessions and earn contact hours for continuing education (CE) credits and can receive a tax deduction for attending. Notable sessions include:

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The Pros and Cons of Wound Care Nursing

Whether they’re just starting out in their career or looking to make a change, today’s nurses have a variety of settings and specialties to choose from. Understanding the pros and cons of wound care nursing can help determine if a particular choice is right for you.

Wound care nursing is a much-needed specialty for nearly every healthcare setting — including acute, long-term care, and home care. And unlike certain specialties, wound care nurses treat several patient populations with varying degrees of complexity and must understand how to manage different types of wounds.

Learning the pros and cons of wound care nursing will also help you understand how this role differs from other specialties you may be considering.

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Why Wound Care Matters

Wound care is essential in nearly every care setting, affecting patients across the care continuum. Understanding why wound care matters to both patients and caregivers alike is key, as wounds can prolong hospital stays, increase the risk of infection, and quickly raise costs for healthcare facilities.

A common issue requiring wound care is pressure injuries, which affect 1 to 3 million people per year in the U.S. alone. While pressure injuries occur in most care environments, they are particularly prevalent in both long-term and post-acute care environments — including hospice and home health settings — where patients remain sedentary for extensive periods of time. As the median age of the U.S. population continues to rise, an increasing number of people require wound care services, including treatment for pressure injuries.

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