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How to Measure Wounds, the Right Way


How to get it right, be consistent, and document your healing process!

One key component of wound care is measurement. Determining how well a wound is healing demands careful and consistent measurement. But what happens if different care teams measure differently? It can introduce inconsistency, errors, and treatment problems into the healing process.


In this installment of our Wound Care Insights series, we’ll talk about how to properly and consistently measure a wound. Check out other items in our series, from a review of skin physiology, to xyz.


Measuring the Wound’s Dimensions

The wound is typically measured first by its length, then by width, and finally by depth. The length is always from the patient’s head to the toe. The width is always from the lateral positions on the patient. The depth is usually measured by inserting a q–tip in the deepest part of the wound with the tip of finger. Therefore a 3 cm x 1 cm x 2 cm wound would indicate that the wound length is 3 cm, the width is 1 cm, and the depth is 2 cm. This measurement system can be confusing when the patient is severely contracted. The reason for accuracy becomes important if multiple individuals are responsible for wound measurement.


Measuring Undermining

Undermining is measured by the use of the clock hand positions. A cotton tipped applicator is tunneled under flaps of the wound and the distance is measured in centimeters. One must be careful not to pull on the skin flaps and displace the actual measurement.


The Right Tools for the Job

There is technology available that measures the wound for you; however, in our experience most practitioners currently measure wounds with a disposable ruler. For infection control reasons, we recommend the use of disposable rulers; do not reuse a ruler, even when cleansing it, from patient to patient.


Stay tuned for more Wound Care Insights, and check out prior installments in our series, including:

Skilled Wound Care is a mobile surgical practice committed to transforming the chronic wound care model in nursing facilities. Wound care experts make weekly bedside visits to patients in long-term care facilities, avoiding transfers to hospitals or clinics. Our expert physicians give patients the most up-to-date and effective wound treatments, and educate facility staff on how to help patients continue to heal quickly and effectively between visits. This model of collaborative care allows SWC’s physicians to improve patients’ lives and health outcomes, to empower nursing staff, and to raise public awareness. Skilled Wound Care, along with its nurse and nursing home partners, is working every day to positively transform traditional nursing home wound care.

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