Wound VACs (vacuum assisted closure) are something rarely placed in the emergency department, however I have had several patients come into the ER with a wound vac already placed. As an ER nurse wound vacs were not in my training so I definitely had a little panic moment the first time a patient came in and said the reason they were there was because the wound vac wasn’t working. Luckily I had the opportunity to attend a continuing education course on wound vacs to become a “superuser”. What this means is that I now know the basics of wound vac placement and trouble shooting for when wound care nurses are not available.
What are wound vacs?
- A wound vac is a device used in wound therapy to help promote wound healing and optimize patient care. The device delivers negative pressure, like a vacuum, to the wound bed which helps in repairing the wound.
Why do wound vacs work?
- The negative pressure wound vac helps to reduce edema and promote perfusion to the wound which helps to pull the tissues together, remove exudate and infectious materials. All of this leads to new cell production which is exactly what you want! This cuts wound healing time in half (if not more).
After the class I learned there is a lot more that goes into wound vacs than just placing a device on a wound. Wound vacs can only be used on certain types of wounds and only under certain conditions. The wound has to be properly dressed prior to vacuum placement with the correct foam type and drapes in order to promote healing and not cause any damage to the surrounding skin. Let’s just say I have a whole new respect for wound care nurses and all that they do!