Understanding of the etiology of each wound is the foundation of the wound care practice. The vast majority of chronic wounds can be classified into four categories: pressure ulcers, diabetic or neuropathic ulcers, venous ulcers, and arterial ulcers. A limited number of wounds do not fall into these four categories. These additional categories include infectious, traumatic, thermal, and surgical wounds.
A chronic wound is a wound that does not heal in a predictable amount of time the way most wounds do. In general, wounds that do not heal within three months are often considered chronic. Chronic wounds represent a significant burden to patients, caregivers, health care professionals, and the U.S. health care system. Chronic wounds afflict 5.7 million patients and cost an estimated 20 billion dollars annually.
Chronic wounds become stalled in one or more of the phases of wound healing. They may never heal or may take years to do so. Chronic wounds cause patients severe emotional and physical stress. They also creating a significant financial burden on patients, caregivers, and the entire healthcare system.
Addressing the deficiencies of a chronic or stalled wound requires a systematic approach and the utilization of advanced wound healing therapies. Effective management of chronic wounds demand that the wound care provider understand the normal healing process and engineer a healthy physical and biochemical environment that will facilitate repair of the impaired wound healing process. Doing so requires the wound care practitioner to be skilled and knowledgeable about evidenced-based wound care standards and advanced wound care options. Observing evidenced-based standards of care for each wound type is essential to facilitating progression toward healing.
Here lies the disparity for patients with wounds. Many healthcare providers have limited knowledge of wound care standards and advanced wound care options. Couple this limited knowledge with the enormous numbers of available wound care tools and the result is often confusion and a reversion back to old, outdated, inadequate, and even inappropriate methods of care.
In the hospital setting, a Certified Wound Care Nurse (CWCN) or equivalently-trained professional is often available to fill this gap. This Certified Wound Care Nurse is a nurse who has received advanced training in the care of patients with wounds. They are responsible for directing the care of patients using evidence-based standards of care.
Unfortunately, in the community this professional nursing service is rarely available. The absence of or underutilization of this valuable resource has resulted in dismal outcomes for patients with chronic wounds including unnecessary and costly hospitalizations, painful unnecessary lower extremity amputation, the waste of health care resources, and the overall poor quality of life for those afflicted with chronic wounds.
iWOC Nursing Foundation (Internet Wound, Ostomy, Continence) is a non-profit organization based in Jacksonville, Florida. It evolved out of a desire to see patients and caregivers empowered with knowledge and hope. The vision of iWOC Nursing Foundation is to meet this need by giving patients, caregivers, and health care practitioners access to the services of a Certified Wound Care Nurse. The goal of the iWOC Foundation is to positively impact the negative outcomes of the care disparities affecting patients with wounds through the provision of ready access to the information necessary to seek evidence-based, appropriate, and timely care. Our hope is to facilitate change through a greater awareness of advanced wound healing practices and tools.