Learn Why Many Organizations Need a Wound Expert Today

Published on June 17, 2019 by Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN, CDCES

Organizations need for trained wound experts is on the rise.

Carole Jakucs

By Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN

The reasons for this increase are multifactorial, said wound expert Nancy Morgan, MBA, BSN, RN, WOC, WCC, DWC, OMS, cofounder and clinical consultant with the Wound Care Education Institute.

We sat down with Morgan to learn why more patients than ever need expert wound care.

Q: What role do chronic diseases play in creating a need for wound care?

People are living longer with chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, which predisposes these patients to the development of chronic wounds.

Chronic wounds require treatment with the skills of knowledge of wound experts over the course of several weeks, months and sometimes years.

Q: What about acute wounds? How do they impact patients who need wound care?

One hundred million acute wounds occur in the U.S. each year — 50 million as a result of surgical incisions and 50 million because of trauma from various mechanisms, such as lacerations, bites and burns.

Acute wounds occur suddenly and usually heal within 6 to 12 weeks and without complications. If they don’t, they become chronic wounds.

Q: What are some of the most common chronic wounds patients have?

wound expert

Nancy Morgan, MBA, BSN, RN, WOC, WCC, DWC, OMS

The most common chronic wounds in patients are venous leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, arterial ulcers and pressure injuries (ulcers).

It’s important to provide optimum wound care to improve a patient’s quality of life, activity tolerance and ability to socialize, while also reducing pain, embarrassment and anxiety related to the wound or wounds.

Q: Are there any other important reasons for clinicians and their organizations to ensure the delivery of excellent wound care?

There are several other reasons, including to:

  • Contain costs
  • Reduce the length of hospital stays
  • Avoid organizational fines
  • Maximize reimbursement
  • Avoid a bad reputation for oneself and one’s organization
  • Avoid or reduce legal risk and liability

Q: How prevalent are chronic wounds, and what impact do they have on patients and the healthcare system?

As of last count, there were 6.5 million chronic wounds in existence in the U.S., which resulted in a cost of $11 billion.

Further, 60,000 patients die each year as a result of complications of pressure injuries, and approximately 17,000 lawsuits take place related to pressure injuries annually.

Q: Given that millions of people have diabetes in the U.S., how does this impact the need for wound experts?

The large numbers of people living with diabetes creates an additional and urgent need for certified wound care clinicians.

Currently, there are more than 30 million people in the U.S. living with diabetes, and one out of every six people with the disease will develop a diabetic foot ulcer.

Q: Is wound care taught in professional education programs, such as nursing schools?

Wound care is not taught much in schools and when it is, there are many occasions when outdated methods are being taught. This results in clinicians practicing poor wound care and an increase in cost to patients’ well-being and financially.

Also, wound care products are many times not being used properly or as intended by the manufacturers. Another issue is a lack of uniformity in teaching wound care to clinicians from a variety of disciplines.

Q: Do you have any eye-opening statistics or survey results regarding wound care?

Yes, three come to mind that highlight the lack of wound care in professional healthcare education programs, including:

  • One study found only 8 of 50 medical residents scored better than 50% on a 20-question test measuring pressure injury knowledge.
  • A recent survey of RNs found that 70% considered their basic wound education insufficient.
  • Another study revealed that nursing textbooks contain sparse or outdated information and some books contained as little as 45 lines of text on pressure injuries.

Q: Are there any other circumstances that will likely increase the need for wound experts?

Yes. Another factor that will most likely increase the need for wound experts in the immediate future, is a change in the way the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will soon categorize patients with regards to reimbursing payments.

Known as the Patient-Driven Groupings Model, patients in community or institutional admissions soon will be categorized by 12 clinical subgroups — with wounds being one of the subgroups considered.

This CMS model is something new we have to examine more thoroughly. However, we know this process is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, and this is one of the many reasons why we need more wound care specialists.

Click to learn why Wound Care Matters today.

pressure injuries

Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN, CDCES
Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN, CDCES

Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN, CDCES, is a freelance writer and diabetes educator. Her background in nursing includes tenures in healthcare management and as a care provider. She has worked in med/surg/telemetry, a pediatric emergency department and college health.

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