1. Kernaleguen, Guen RN
  2. Yaskina, Maryna PhD
  3. Fox, Miriam MN, NNP-BC
  4. Dicken, Bryan J. MD, MSc
  5. van Manen, Michael MD, PhD


Background: Wound assessment is a critical part of the care of hospitalized infants in neonatal intensive care. Early recognition and initiation of appropriate treatment of wounds are imperative to facilitate wound healing and avoid complications such as secondary infection and wound dehiscence. There are, however, no validated tools for assessing surgical wounds in infants.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to develop and interrogate a tool for the assessment of surgical wounds. Specific aims for the tool included interrater reliability (give a consistent and dependable result independent of user) and test criterion validity (give an accurate assessment of the wound compared with an expert).


Methods: This was an exploratory cohort study involving a structured wound tool applied by nursing staff to 40 surgical wounds. The wounds were also assessed by wound experts (a pediatric wound care nurse and a pediatric surgeon). Comparisons were made to elucidate estimates of reliability and validity.


Results: The wound tool demonstrated interrater reliability with intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.775 (95% CI, 0.665-0.862) as well as criterion validity with rank correlation coefficient of 0.55 (95% CI, 0.34-0.76) to 0.71 (95% CI, 0.53-0.88). To obtain 100% sensitivity to distinguish mild from moderate-severe wounds, a low cutoff score was needed.


Implications for Practice and Research: Wound assessment continues to be a subjective exercise, even with the utilization of a tool. Additional research is needed for strategies to support the assessment of surgical wounds in infants. Such tools are needed for future research, particularly when multiple institutions are involved.