WOUND & SKIN CARE: Snap judgments Should I photograph my patient's wound?

February 2005 
Volume 35  Number 2
Pages 28 - 29
  PDF Version Available!


  • Does wound photography help documentation?

  • Could a wound photograph mitigate a facility's liability?

  • So, who decides when and what to photograph?


    IN MANY EDs, photographing patient wounds on admission is routine for forensic cases. But should you routinely photograph wounds during the course of acute care? That's a controversial question. The answer may depend on whether you approach the issue from a patient-care or forensic perspective.

    In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons from two perspectives: that of a wound care nurse specialist (Carol Calianno) and a health system attorney (Annemarie Martin-Boyan) specializing in patient-care matters.

    Does wound photography help documentation?

    YES, says Calianno : Accurate medical records are essential for providing quality care. As an adjunct to a narrative description, photographs help give medical records credibility by ensuring that a wound is accurately described. Written descriptions can be interpreted subjectively, especially if the reader is unfamiliar with the terms used, such as slough, eschar, granulation tissue, friable tissue, or undermining. A photograph provides an objective record of the wound and surrounding tissue and clearly identifies areas within and around the wound that require monitoring.

    Photographs are especially useful for documenting a wound's status before and after debridement. They also can be helpful if the patient has multiple wounds because every wound may not be described precisely in the narrative record.

    Photographs also have value as a teaching tool. If the patient has a wound in a location that he can't easily see, for example, a photograph can help him understand the problem and motivate him to participate in treatment.

    NO, says Martin-Boyan : If someone files a lawsuit claiming that you assessed and ...

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