Wound swab use and misuse at a regional general hospital.
J Wound Care. 2014 Dec;23(12):634-42
Authors: Fenech M, Abela R, Chetcuti Zammit S, Mercieca L, Gauci J, Edwards N, Carachi E, Mifsud M, Piscopo T
OBJECTIVE: Guidelines for swab use at our centre cover lower-limb wounds, ulcers and postoperative wound infections but not all types of wound. The objective of this study was to assess current practices in wound management at Mater Dei Hospital and to identify areas for improvement.
METHOD: Wound swabs received at the microbiology department between February and April 2013 from adult inpatients departments were included. Wound swabs from the ophthalmology and paediatric departments were excluded. Patient comorbidities, detailed wound descriptions, acknowledgement of and documentation of culture and sensitivity results, and antibiotic changes during treatment were collected. Indictors of infection including white cell counts (WCCs) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were recorded.
RESULTS: The study included 134 patients. Diabetes mellitus (61.9%, n=83) was the most common underlying comorbidity. Postoperative wounds were the most common type of wounds swabbed (34.3%). The wound swab characteristics were not fully documented in 27 patients (20.1%). The CRP results were not recorded in 39.6% and WCCs were not taken in 10.4% of patients. Wound swab results were not acknowledged in the medical notes of 76% of cases.
CONCLUSION: Wound swabs that were not indicated, lack of documentation and untimely acknowledgement of results were evident. This suggests that a significant proportion of wound swabs may not have been justified and had no impact on wound management. Our study clearly underlines the need for a more comprehensive guideline.
DECLARATION OF INTEREST: There was no sponsorship of this study. The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
PMID: 25492280 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]