Nursing and the Wound Care Dilemma
Wound Care in recent years has become big business. As a medical specialty group wound care has grown into a competitive market of the larger medical services provider industry. Wound care has also made a name for itself by providing mobile services. For many at-home patients and institutional clients without in-house debridement doctors, this is a winning solution.
But many patients receiving wound care by such onsite providers have to wrestle with a whole new set of problems. Because of the frequency and the proximity of the new surgeon’s provider visits, this brand-new physician now rules over the patient’s care plan. This random new doctor now is the most influential surgeon in the patient’s orbit.
In the medical world, certain conventions of eminence and integrity are assumed. A physician is generally esteemed by the level of education attained, the prestige of their academic credentials and their source, and the work history performed after graduation. The prestige of the places a physician works after graduation and the relative importance of their work experience determines the opportunities in the medical industry. This also predicates their authority in future patient care giving advice.
The occupational issues the physicians will come up against in the medical community will be a reflection of their formal training. But a position in wound care is due to years spent practicing in the field of wound care medicine. This standing
comes after years, sometimes decades working in professional medical care. Patients receiving wound care services almost never choose the doctor or know anything about them, unlike other types of doctors.
Mobile wound care surgeons analyze the condition of the skin. They measure and record the size depth and breadth of wounds and infected areas. The debridement surgeon can advise new courses of treatment. The wound care surgeon can also discontinue applications if treatments he or she finds detrimental or causeless. They may dismiss effective regimens without a second thought.
Soon the orders for the wound care may bear no similarity at all to the most successful and most impactful wound care regimens the patient has known. No other services can be authorized anymore. The patient is cornered. Then in addition to the discomfort and trauma of heavy infections, the wound care patient is twice over a victim. He or she will be left scratching their head, wondering ‘How did I get here?’
Medical provider services are part of an industry that makes money not doing its job. The more disorders, wounds, lesions, and infection that occur, the more money the hospitals, clinics, and services providers make. Of the gargantuan corporate behemoths that run modern medicine, all of them run on a modern theme: Sickness is an income opportunity.
Wound Care is a segment of an industry that nevertheless subscribes to business drivers that try to curry relationships with their business-to-business clients. In this particular, the patron is the long term care facility or Home Health corporation the patient belongs to. This means that a side contract is attached to the agreement between the physician and the patient. In the B2B world, this means that the interests of the facility and their case management prerogatives come before the wishes of the patient. While the patient may be under the impression that they are in partnership trying to improve their wound care ailments, the real boss of the situation is the facility or Home Health provider management.
This is a dilatory arrangement, as the patient will take consideration of other providers’ advice, including that of the PCP, assuming ongoing wound care success. They may discuss and develop the care plan with a projection of straightforward cooperation from the wound care service. But this assumption may be unwarranted. After making communications with other physicians regarding treatment, medication, and new therapies, the patient may find that the care plan is the victim of a hostile takeover.
Now the patient has heard so many different opinions about her case she feels seasick. After years of listening to persuasive opinions about treatments, the pendulum never rests. There is an endless cycle of wound care referral, the provider’s care initiation, the physician’s kindly bedside manner and befriendment. Then comes the sales pitch, the heavy sell, the isolation from other treatment doctors, and then the coup de gras. The wound care physician announces “It’s my way or the highway”, and the patient wonders how they got into this mess.
Now, all the documentation sets up the wound care provider as the decision-maker of the care plan. Nurses would do well to assist patients in coping and dealing with their doctors double-crossing them. Nurses and counselors should update case managers and family members if the observe patients feeling upset and confused by unsuccessful efforts to make their wishes understood. The concept of respecting resident rights is one that nurses should apply very seriously to all their charges.
The wound care physician now holds the upper hand and if the patient does not obey orders, the doctor can fault the patient for not being compliant. This can discredit the patient with the medical insurer. Documentation like this can risk the patient losing their medical coverage.
All of the assurances and advice that the patients received when other physicians were following the along the case somehow now gets lost. And it is surely a sheer coincidence that the recommendations of the most recent wound care visits dovetail with the least cost scenario for wound care treatment.
Nurses should recognize when patients feel distressed about any treatment they are receiving. But the impetus of hospitals and long term care facilities is to allow the business drivers of any medical care instituion have the last word.
Nurses today must decide whether to honor patient wishes or put the fiscal gains of their employer first.
This is the wound care dilemma for nurses. To step forward, and help, or do nothing, and hinder the situation. Nurses must acknowledge when the transparency and quality of patient care is compromised by the absence of patient consideration. Nurses must also operate with loyalty toward their employer. For nurses experiencing the above referenced type of scenario, serious reflection should ensue. These issues should make nurses everywhere advocate for patients who are getting manipulated by the ‘system.’
And professional nurses will serve their ethics best by obeying traditional standards of nursing handed down by generations. Namely, to put patient health, welfare, and recovery above all other considerations. Monetary and otherwise.