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Wound Care - Discharge Instructions
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If you have an incision or wound make sure you keep it clean and follow any special instructions you received for changing the dressings.

When are the signs and symptoms of infection?

Watch for signs or symptoms of infection. These include increasing redness, swelling, warmth, a foul odor, tenderness or pain, a red line extending from the wound, pus-like discharge, a change in the amount or color of the drainage, or a temp of 101degrees or higher. If you experience elevated blood sugars, this could also be a sign of an infection. If you develop any of these, contact your physician immediately.

What else should I report to the physician?

If your wound or incision is coming apart or the staples or stitches come out earlier than expected please call the physician. You should also notify the physician if you notice any other change in your symptoms, worsening condition or have any questions or concerns.

How do I take care of Steri strips?

Keep the wound clean. Steri Strips are thin adhesive strips placed over an incision to help it heal. Do not let them get wet for the first 24 hours. Then you can gently wash it with soap and water daily. Leave them in place until they fall off on their own or the doctor tells you to remove them. They may fall off the skin after 10 - 14 days. Keep them dry as much as possible to prevent infection. If you need to remove them with your physician’s approval use lotion or a small amount of water to loosen them from your skin.

How do I take care of Stitches/Sutures/Staples?

Keep the wound clean. Do not let it get wet for the first 24 hours. Then you can gently wash it with a mild soap that is pH balanced such as dove soap, and water twice a day. Make sure the wound and sutures are kept dry between washings. Your physician may recommend that you cover your wound with gauze or a bandage to keep it from getting dirty. You will be instructed on when to return to have them removed. It depends on the area involved. It can be anywhere from 3 days for a facial wound to 14 days for a high stress area like the hands, knees or elbows.

How do I take care of a bandage or dressing?

You will be given instructions before you leave the hospital as to when the dressing can be removed. Many times a surgical dressing needs to be removed in the surgeon’s office. However if you notice that you have bleeding or drainage, the area underneath is swelling, the bandage becomes wet, or is falling off you should contact your physician immediately.

How do I change a dressing or pack a wound?

The nurse will make sure someone is capable of doing your dressing changes. You or a caregiver will be instructed on how to change your bandage before you are discharged. It is very important to follow the instructions completely. You may have the option of having a Home Health Nurse do your dressing changes.

If you need to use special supplies they can be found in most pharmacies or Medical Supply companies. You may need a prescription for the medication to dress your wound. This will be communicated to you as well and you may need a prescription for insurance coverage.

This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.