(BPT) - If you or a loved one is suffering from a wound-, ostomy- or incontinence-related issue and receiving treatment, it may feel like the condition will never stabilize.
But many patients in similar situations are finding relief through the services of professional, Baccalaureate-prepared specialty nurses trained and certified in wound, ostomy and continence (WOC) care. In fact, new research publicized by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN) shows patients receiving care from a WOC nurse are more likely to see a successful stabilization of their condition than those who are not receiving specialty care.
Across the nation WOC nurses are having a positive impact on patient care according to the findings of a recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota. The research study examined more than 400,000 episodes of care and found that home health care (HHC) patients who were treated with the specialized skills of a WOC nurse improved dramatically compared to HHC patients without a WOC nurse.
WOC nursing principles and care strategies apply to all care settings. If you are in need of WOC care or you have a loved one who is, you may be interested in learning more about the specialty and how a WOC nurse can help. Here are some answers to common questions you may be asking yourself.
* What is a WOC nurse? A WOC nurse specializes in treating and caring for patients who have wounds, ostomies or incontinence issues. Certified WOC nurses are highly trained in treating these ailments and they direct, coordinate and evaluate patient care regarding these conditions. Only highly credentialed WOC nurses certified through the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB) must earn a Bachelor's degree and RN license before completing rigorous coursework and hands-on clinical training through one of several WOCN-accredited WOC Nursing Education Programs nationwide. In addition to their coursework, the WOC nurse training program includes 50 contact hours of professional development and 1,500 clinical experience hours. To become a certified wound, ostomy or continence nurse, these nurses must also pass a certification exam in each or several of the three focus areas. Recertification is required every five years.
* How can a WOC nurse help my loved one? The research study found patients were:
- more than 2.3 times as likely to have their urinary incontinence condition stabilize when they received treatment from a WOC nurse
- 1.2 times more likely see their urinary tract infection stabilize
- 1.16 times more like to achieve stabilization of fecal incontinence issues.
The study also revealed that patients were nearly twice as likely to see improvement in pressure ulcers, 20 percent more likely to experience improvement in lower extremity ulcers and 14 percent more likely to see improvement in bowl incontinence.
'This study proves that WOC care results in better patient outcomes, which means patient survival rates are better and relapse rates are lower,' says Phyllis Kupsick, WOCN president. 'WOC specialty nurses deliver a unique skill set and are highly trained to treat wounds, ostomies and incontinence.'
* How can I find a WOC nurse? WOC nurses are more prevalent than you may think. They are employed in all healthcare settings around the nation and the WOCN Society has nearly 5,000 members. If you or a loved one suffers from wound, ostomy or incontinence issues, be sure to request the services of a WOC nurse.
You've seen the numbers and you know the positive effect WOC nurses are having across the country. To learn more about how a WOC nurse can help you, visit www.wocn.org to find a list of WOC nurses in your area.