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The Role of Multi-disciplinary Teams in Wound Care

Most patients who sustain acute or chronic wounds will require either outpatient or inpatient wound care at a healthcare facility. To optimize wound healing, and improve the long-term outcomes among patients who attend these facilities, a multi-disciplinary approach involving the cooperation of different categories of wound care professionals is advocated.

What Constitutes A Multi-Disciplinary Approach In Wound Care?

Due to the risk of deformity, and disability resulting from neglect or poor treatment techniques, the importance of providing optimal care to patients with acute or chronic wounds cannot be over-emphasized. Consequently, a multi-disciplinary approach to wound care is being advocated at wound care centers to limit or prevent unwanted post-therapy sequelae. A multi-disciplinary care strategy for the management of any wound regardless of etiology and duration requires the input of a broad set of professionals from different areas of specialty. These wound care experts will lend their experience and skills to halt further wound damage, and repair affected tissues. 

Who Are Some Professionals Involved In Wound Care?

Various wound professionals play crucial roles in wound care. Some relevant wound care experts include the following:

  • General practice doctors
  • Physicians
  • Surgeons
  • Specialist wound care nurses
  • Psychologists/Counselors
  • Podiatrists
  • Pharmacists
  • Physiotherapists

General Practice Doctors

General practice doctors are often the primary contact for patients seeking help for their wound care. They provide advice, counsel, and general medical treatment services to patients presenting with both acute and chronic wounds. 

Physicians

These medical specialists are essential to wound care as a significant amount of patients with chronic wounds have underlying conditions that stunt wound healing progress. Cardiologists and endocrinologists, for example, treat patients with heart disease and diabetes which can adversely affect the tissue repair process of chronic wounds. 

Surgeons

Many chronic wounds will require surgery as a definitive form of therapy at some stage in their management. Orthopedic surgeons, vascular surgeons, plastic surgeons, and general surgeons are responsible for most of the surgical interventions required in wound management.  

Specialist Wound Care Nurses

Certified wound care nurses provide a unique service within the healthcare setting. These professionals possess special training in the management of patients with acute to chronic wounds. The ability of wound care nurses to rapidly evaluate, and treat various types of wounds make them a vital member of any multi-disciplinary team.

Psychologists and Counselors

Apart from the medical or surgical treatment required in managing patients with wounds, there are psychological components (grief, guilt, anger, depression, etc) to treatment that must not be overlooked. Clinical psychologists and health or lifestyle counselors can help patients diagnosed with chronic wounds deal with the psychological aspects of their treatments. This is achieved by giving appropriate counseling on their clinical state, encouragement of healthy lifestyle choices, and the management of treatment expectations in a realistic manner.

Podiatrists

Several chronic conditions manifest in the lower limbs of affected patients as wounds. Podiatrists are a category of wound care experts able to diagnose and treat various diseases affecting the lower limbs including diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, and venous leg ulcers.

Pharmacists

Pharmacists help patients with wounds by preparing and dispensing various medications required for optimal wound healing. Antibiotics, analgesia, and anti-inflammatory medications represent a few classes of drugs pharmacists provide to patients within their care. Additionally, they can offer crucial advice on medications and wound care products prescribed to patients undergoing wound treatments.

Physiotherapists/Occupational Therapists

Physiotherapists help patients who have suffered disability or loss of function or mobility regain as near a full range of motion as possible. Occupational therapists prepare patients in long-term care facilities for several activities of daily living when discharged home. Both sets of therapists help patients with permanent disabilities reintegrate into their jobs and daily lives as smoothly as possible. 

Why Is Teamwork Critical To Wound Care?

Wound care management presents a serious challenge in long-term care settings, despite the most sophisticated and advanced treatment techniques. Due to the broad range of activities involved in achieving optimal wound healing, it is obvious that one category of wound care experts will be inadequate to achieve treatment goals. With different areas of specialization, multidisciplinary teams in wound care settings is a justifiable, evidence-based approach. Pooling team resources and personnel will provide a positive overlap of wound care services and improve overall patient outcomes.

Strategies to Improve Multidisciplinary Wound Care

Apart from assembling a multidisciplinary team to treat acute or chronic wounds, it is also essential that the members of the team can function synergistically for the benefit of their patients. Some key strategies to ensure effective teamwork in wound care include the following:

  • Clear and consistent communication among all categories of wound care experts
  • The proper designation of duties with an appreciation of limits in delivery of patient care
  • Encouragement of constructive feedback on treatment strategies among team members
  • Continuous update of knowledge bases and clinical skills with emphasis on wound care
  • Thorough dissemination of updates on improved wound care techniques