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Understanding chronic wound management: part 2

Dressings are a huge part of the NHS budget, estimated at between£2.3bn and £3.1bn in 2005/06 — 3 per cent of the total healthexpenditure — and pharmacists can advise on their prescribing and use.In part 2 of our article on wound management, Jane Flynn looks atantimicrobial dressings and alternative options promoting healing inchronic wounds

By Jane Flynn

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Dressings are a huge part of the NHS budget, estimated at between £2.3bn and £3.1bn in 2005/06 — 3 per cent of the total health expenditure — and pharmacists can advise on their prescribing and use.

In part 2 of our article on wound management, Jane Flynn looks at antimicrobial dressings and alternative options promoting healing in chronic wounds

It must be stressed that dressings do not heal wounds but, if selected correctly, they will provide an environment conducive to healing. A dressing should be selected by assessing a wound and deciding which criteria the dressing needs to meet (ie, absorbent, desloughing, antimicrobial). An ideal dressing would:

  • Maintain a moist environment
  • Provide thermal insulation to the wound surface
  • Be clinically effective
  • Be absorbent
  • Be safe to use
  • Be comfortable and acceptable for the patient
  • Be impermeable to bacteria
  • Allow gaseous exchange
  • Be easily removed (with no pain or trauma)
  • Be cost-effective
  • Be easy to apply and wear
  • Be non-flammable
  • Be free from particulate wound contaminants

An ideal dressing would also be available in varied shapes and sizes to accommodate wounds in different locations.

However, this is not often the case and nurses have become skilled at adapting various dressings to make them fit for purpose.

It is important for dressings to meet the needs of patients, who must feel confident that they will stay on, not leak, contain any malodour, feel comfortable and not cause pain on removal.

Expertise on different dressings and applications is invaluable for achieving these goals but such achievement is not always possible for every patient.

Download the attached PDF (230K) to read the full article.

Jane Flynn, BSc, SRN, is a tissue viability nurse specialist at Barnet Primary Care Trust, London

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10970472

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