Educational guides on wound dressing packages can lead to increased patient safety and greater accuracy when applying the product, according to a new study in the Journal of Wound Ostomy and Continence Nursing (Journal of WOCN). Published in the November/December issue of the peer-reviewed journal, the study included 173 clinicians and found that the nurses who used wound care dressings that had educational instructions attached to the outer package were 88 percent more likely to apply the products correctly than nurses who used the dressings in a traditional package.
"The results clearly show that just-in-time education in the form of educational instructions on a dressing package improves nurses' confidence and accuracy when applying the dressing," says Dea Kent, MSN, RN, NP-C, CWOCN, the author of the study and the manager of the Wound Ostomy Clinic at Riverview Hospital in Noblesville, Indiana. "The implication for manufacturers of wound dressings is that they should make it hard for the nurse to do the wrong thing by providing clear, easy-to-understand instructions that are accessible on the outside of the package so the nurse can review the process before treating the patient."
The study used a wound dressing packaging system from Medline Industries Inc., the nation's largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products, based on a concept of "just-in-time" education. Instructions for appropriate dressing use are attached to each package. The study was undertaken to assess the effects of this educational resource. The wound dressing used in the study was not familiar to the participants to more accurately assess the effect of the educational packaging and self-reported confidence with application.
The participants were randomly divided into two groups: a control group receiving the traditional wound education and an "intervention" group using Medline's just-in-time educational packaging. None of the 62 nurses in the control group (using the traditional packaging) were able to apply the dressing correctly as compared to 68 of the 77 (88 percent) in the intervention group.
Similarly, 88 percent of the nurses in the intervention group reported that the educational packaging gave them confidence that they can correctly apply the dressing. Moreover, 71 percent in this group said they would change their nursing practice in relation to application of wound dressings based on the education on the package.
"The study findings provide evidence that manufacturers of wound dressings should apply just-in-time education techniques by placing an educational guide on all wound dressing packages to enhance the accuracy and safety of application and, ultimately, its efficacy in wound healing," says Kent in the study's conclusion.
Kent attributes the application failures by the nurses in the control group to a lack of knowledge about dressing application, since no information was available on the dressing package itself.
The study included nurses from a variety of backgrounds possessing all levels of education ranging from licensed practical nurse to Master of Science in nursing. Both novice and seasoned nurses were included. The study was conducted at eight facilities in central Indiana, including community hospitals, critical access hospitals, long-term care acute units, long-term care facilities and home health agencies.
Source: Medline Industries Inc.