1. Assess and Educate Prior to Discharge
Wound care education efforts should begin the moment negative pressure wound therapy is initiated in hospital and should continue:1,3
- Throughout the patient’s length of stay.
- Upon discharge.
- Throughout transitional care/post-acute care, during every dressing change visit by a nurse.
As part of routine patient care, it is important to assess the ability of patients and caregivers to understand instructions and subsequently tailor patient engagement efforts according to their needs. One great method of assessment is to have patients and caregivers “demonstrate back” the use of their device to you, after you have delivered your tutorial.1,3
- Turn the device on and operate it properly.
- Keep the device on for appropriate durations of time.
- Change canisters and/or dressings if necessary.
- Understand the meaning of alarms (audio and visual).
- Recognize complications such as frank bleeding, abnormal exudate, and extreme pain.
- Contact help in case of an emergency or for technical assistance.
2. Enlist caregivers to apply “positive pressure”
Patient compliance with negative pressure wound therapy can be facilitated through “positive pressure” from caregivers. Identify the friends or family members who will be keeping an eye on patients. Enlist their help in supporting the patient through their transitional care journey, providing encouragement and helping to keep the patient on track. Caregivers can encourage non-compliant patients in tangible ways by reminding them to turn or keep their device on and helping to troubleshoot alarms, for example.
3. Connect patients to support resources
Be sure to distribute educational materials, clear instructions, and care team contact information to your patients. Also consider apps such as “Make NPWT easier” from Medela (Apple App Store, Google Play Store), which provides fast access to information that can help patients set up and manage their NPWT device.