Some wounds get infected and require a wound swab, and there are different methodologies for taking the samples.
Infected wounds that are hard to diagnose often require a wound swab, but many clinicians have different methodologies for taking these samples.
Wounds International states that there is no mandated method for wound swabs, which can often lead to forgotten steps or faulty practices.
If you feel that your wound swab techniques could use an update, here are some things you should always avoid when performing the procedure:
Leaving dirty dressings, old tissue on wound: Prior to taking any swab, all dressings, gauze and other material should be removed. Any dried exudate or necrotic tissue should also be gently removed from the wound site by dousing it with lukewarm tap water or saline solution. Although some clinicians believe that leaving some of the residue on the wound site will increase the chances of recovering the infected organism, this also increases the chance of advancing the infection in the patient.
Dry swabs on dry wounds: Samples from dry wounds should always be taken with a swab that has been moistened with sterile saline solution. When a dry swab is used, the chances of collecting any organisms are very slim.
Only swabbing one area: It is important to swab a thorough representation of the wound when taking a sample. Different organisms located in different spots on the wound may be interacting with each other to produce the reaction in the patient, or the patient may have two different infections that require multiple treatments.
Completing paperwork hours after the procedure: Completing all documentation immediately after taking the swab is key. You will be more likely to remember certain things about the wound (discoloration, temperature) as well as the patient (temperament, any other symptoms) that could better inform the test.