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Communication Is Key in Wound Care

I have spoken of my inquisitive character, but I also have always had creative energy. Whether it is painting, poetry, songwriting, or dance, I express myself using the “other side of my brain.”

As an artist, I wax poetically to carefully construct visual images. Words are carefully chosen so that syntax becomes reality.

You can hear what I say, but do you truly understand what I mean? May I draw you a picture.

Communication is crucially important. As health care providers, how many times is the plan of care recited within the treatment room, confirmed by the nurse, repeated by the patient, printed in the after-visit-summary, and even shared electronically to the patient’s portal? Yet, upon the returning encounter, we hear, “Oh, is that what you meant? I did not do it that way. I didn’t know.” Do our patients really understand us? Do they comprehend their instructions, or is something else amiss?

There is abundant anxiety, some confusion, and plenty of emotion for our patients. Our wound care patients are afraid of infection, limb loss, pain, loss of independence, and death. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, some are afraid to leave their homes, and in desperation, resort to childhood remedies and practices of soaking wounds with hydrogen peroxide or “leaving them uncovered to get some air.” This muddles the mind at times, and there is seemingly a loss of control.

As practitioners, we must do our best to demonstrate and educate, because comprehension slays most fears.

I have always believed that a well-informed patient tends to be a well-engaged, compliant patient. Our patients need our tender attention, which does not necessarily take more time to give, but rather, requires more empathy as we utilize the best tools: our words.

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable.

Until next time …

Monique Abner, MD, CWSPMonique Abner, MD, CWSP, is affiliated with Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine, part of Tower Health Medical Group, in Wyomissing, PA. Dr. Abner's professional affiliations include the American Society of Plastic Surgery, Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, member of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, and member of the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care.

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