Standardized Procedure for Sharp Debridement of Non-viable Tissue in Wounds Policy



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Standardized Procedure for Sharp Debridement of Non-viable Tissue in Wounds


  1. Policy

    1. Function: Using instruments, the Certified Wound Care Nurse (CWCN), Registered Nurse with documented coursework in Conservative Sharp Wound Debridement (CSWD), and licensed Physical Therapist may remove necrotic tissues from wounds.

    2. Purpose: Ongoing safe and effective removal of non-viable tissue by instrument/sharp debridement for the purpose of providing a clean wound bed.

    3. Circumstances: Debridement should be done when the need for the removal of necrotic tissue, particulate matter or foreign materials hinder wound assessment or healing progress. This must be accomplished with NO TRAUMA to the wound tissue.

      1. Setting: Debridement may be done in the patient’s room or clinic setting with appropriate resources available including adequate lighting, pain medication, appropriate instruments and competent professionals trained in debridement.

      2. Patient Population: Patient of all ages with wounds requiring sharp debridement.

      3. Patient Conditions: Patients with poorly healing or non-healing wounds including pressure ulcers, patients with demarcation of the ulceration. The clinician must select the most appropriate method of debridement considering not only the wound status but the physiological and emotional status of the patient. Done with Physician referral and clinical judgement.

      4. Contraindications: Debride with caution and physician approval if patient has coagulation issues defined as PTT over 40 seconds, INR over 1.5. Stop debriding when: Impending exposure of tendon or bone, location of fascial plane, location of a named structure, when concerned and/or unbearable pain is expressed by the patient.

      5. Supervision: May be done independently after competency validation is done by experienced medical staff.


  1. Procedure

    1. Pre-procedure

      1. Assess the following: condition of the wound, overall condition of the patient including: general health status, nutritional and immunological status (potential for complications), allergies, tissue perfusion, bleeding disorders, medications (anticoagulants, corticosteroids). Need for sharp debridement versus mechanical, chemical or autolytic debridement. Patient’s level of pain/comfort. History and etiology of the wound, type and amount of necrotic tissue and presence of sinus tracts, tunneling and undermining. Signs and symptoms of infection.

      2. Collaborative Consultation: RN, CWCN (certified wound care nurse) and PT should consult with surgeon if any questions arise regarding the debridement of wounds.

      3. Explain the procedure to patient/caregiver/significant other: The purpose of the debridement procedure, the advantages and disadvantages, risks, complications and alternatives, the availability of pain medications and potential bleeding.

    2. Procedure Interventions: Cleanse the wound with saline/wound cleanser or betadine may be used if it is removed with saline. Using the pickup forceps, lift the non-viable tissue or eschar you are debriding and cut it with a scalpel or scissors. Cut it with care and take it down on layers to prevent removal of viable tissue. Pain and bleeding are signs of viable tissue. Remove as much necrotic tissue as possible. Cleanse the wound with saline/wound cleanser. Apply appropriate dressing for location/wound. Use antibiotics as ordered by the physician. Have materials available in the event of bleeding: gauze for pressure, silver nitrate sticks, topical gelfoam agents.

    3. Post Procedure:

      1. Assess and monitor the following: Amount of necrotic tissue. Presence of pus or abscess. Patient pain tolerance limit. Bleeding. Be especially aware of bleeding if you cannot see the source. If bleeding is continuous and voluminous, call for help immediately and apply pressure. Further Consultation: Contact a physician when patient is febrile, no wound improvement for 5 sessions, if cellulites or gross infection is present, if area is abscessed or extensively undermined. If there is impending exposed bone, tendon or a major vessel is encountered.

      2. Self Care Education: Instruct the patient to report bleeding and signs and symptoms of infection. Teach dressings changes and techniques where appropriate.

      3. Documentation: Complete a physician order entry and focus note on the patient progress note when initiating the standardized procedure. Include the condition of the wound, problems encountered during debridement and type of dressing applied.


III Requirements

  1. Education: Licensed Physical Therapist, Certified Wound Care Nurse and Registered Nurse who successfully completes an education program on wound debridement.

  2. Training: Completion of Standardized procedure in-service as directed by hospital policy.

  3. Experience: Ability to recognize need for sharps debridement, knowledge of skin anatomy and physiology.

  4. Initial Evaluation/Skill Validation: Competence demonstration of satisfactory skill in wound assessment and a return demonstration of instrument/sharps debridement validated by a proctor annually.

  5. On-going evaluation/Skill Validation: Performance of the procedure will be evaluated by the selected proctor. Competency evaluation will be completed annually. Any questions about techniques giving an untoward result will require repeat proctoring.

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