Wound dressings in the UK are changed on average every three days, according to a new survey, conducted by the Journal of Community Nursing on behalf of Mölnlycke, of over 300 healthcare professionals, including tissue viability nurses, district nurses, podiatrists and care home nurses.
Studies demonstrate that keeping wounds covered with a dressing for longer may be beneficial to promote optimal wound healing. Dressings that help to create an appropriate moist environment while absorbing excess exudate for more than three days can promote undisturbed and faster healing. However, many of the survey respondents felt challenged by lower quality dressings on their formularies.
Nearly 90% of those surveyed mentioned that high levels of exudate and wounds not healing well are key causes of dressing changes every three days. A third (32%) highlighted that frequent changes are due to ineffective dressings on their formulary. One in five (18%) from across the country recognise that their formulary’s dressings do not effectively handle exudate capacity and 14% say that the dressings on their formulary fall off too easily.
The survey also found that nine out of ten healthcare professionals consider patient compliance as a big issue for frequent dressing changes with nearly 50% reporting that their patient removes the dressing before it needs changing and 36% reporting that their patient complains the dressing is not comfortable.
Approximately two thirds (62%) consider that encouragement of undisturbed wound healing is a strong reason for leaving up to seven days between dressing changes. The survey highlighted the importance of using superior quality dressings, with 65% of those surveyed feeling confident of leaving a dressing untouched if it can stay in place for up to seven days, and the majority (62%) noted high exudate handling capacity as the key feature to ensure they can leave seven days between changes.
According to Luxmi Dhoonmoon, tissue viability nurse consultant at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, “there is pressure to use lower quality, cheaper dressings in the UK, but this ignores the bigger picture; for example, a district nurse can cost up to £100 per visit and so the NHS ends up paying more in nursing time. When there is investment in superior products, a wound can heal in months rather than years. Aside from saving money, this also has a positive impact on a patient’s quality of life”.
Katie Baron, Central London Community Healthcare Trust, London, UK, also commented: “Frequent dressing changes account for a vast amount of community nurses’ time. With the ever-increasing workload for nurses and nurse shortages, using superior quality dressings that can stay in place for up to seven days handling exudate levels effectively, such as Mepilex Border Comfort, could help relieve some pressures, allowing nurses to cover other areas of their job and with peace of mind that patients’ wounds have the potential to heal optimally.
“Minimising pain for patients during dressing change is an important consideration. During dressing changes this tends to be the time when most pain is experienced, and ensuring that gentle adhesives are in place and reducing the risk of adherence to the wound bed, contributes to the benefits of using superior quality dressings.
“Regarding other challenges when it comes to using dressings effectively, it is relevant to consider patient compliance as a big issue. Some patients tend to remove their dressings before they need changing. There are various reasons why patients may do that, the views HCPs shared in this survey particularly highlighted patients’ complaints about dressings being uncomfortable, hence again the importance of using superior quality dressings.”
In the survey, the vast majority (90%) of the HCPs who have used Mepilex Border Comfort dressings (Mölnlycke) trust patients can securely wear Mepilex® Border Comfort for between three to seven days, with over 70% saying that they have noticed enhanced comfort and less pain for patients, while one in two (47.5%) have reported improved patient quality of life. Nearly half (47.5%) of HCPs trust Mepilex Border Comfort facilitates quicker healing time due to effective exudate management.
“Our Mepilex Border Comfort dressings have been designed specifically with our patients and healthcare professionals in mind to promote undisturbed wound healing” said Nina Burdiak, product manager of Advanced Wound Care at Mölnlycke. “Mepilex Border Comfort’s Flex technology provides excellent flexibility and conformability to help avoid early detachment of the dressing and to move with the patient, whilst its Exudate Progress Monitor helps to track and objectively record exudate levels, helping to avoid unnecessary dressing changes.”