Wound Photography – How it Benefits Clinical Documentation

Accurate assessment and documentation of wounds is essential for developing a comprehensive plan of care. Photography now plays a key role in wound care. The use of digital photography has enhanced the reliability and accuracy of wound documentation. Though a wound assessment in patient files includes details such as location, depth, odor, condition of surrounding tissue and other details, a visual record can be worth even more.

Digital photography is becoming a more prevalent documentation tool. According to an article published in McKnight’s, forensic nursing experts recommend using photographs to document injury. The photos show both how an injury occurred and how it is healing.

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) also supports photography as a more accurate means for assessment of wound dimensions and wound base over time.

A visual confirmation to the written record, these images:

  • Facilitate better diagnosis
  • Enhance clinical documentation
  • Help to monitor the progress of wound healing
  • Help prevent litigation in wound management
  • Allow inter-disciplinary communication among the wound care team

Now electronic records are successfully used in managing acute and chronic wounds. An electronic medical record (EMR) that includes high quality digital images is currently providing solutions to many wound management challenges. Wound EMRs have been proven to promote patient safety, facilitate communication between providers, reduce costs, and facilitate an evidence-based practice. WoundWizard, the innovative EMR software comes with 3D Wound Models that can easily mark where the wound is located on your patient, allowing easier treatment and diagnosis of multiple wound sites.

Wounds should be photographed if present on admission, or when acquired, and at discharge. Nurses must make sure to cleanse the wound thoroughly before image capture. However, it is critical that wound clinics create policies to ensure that patients are informed of the purpose of photography. These digital images should be stored safely.

Policy or protocol for wound photography must include informed consent, timing of photographs, criteria about who can take the photograph, type of camera used, effective maintenance and storage of images, and who will have access to these images.