Picture Worth a Thousand Words

Angie Szumlinski News

We have all heard the adage, right, “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Sure, everyone loves to share their family pictures, pictures of their trip to Europe, baby’s first bath, mom’s buttocks, wait, mom’s buttocks? Sadly, it is true, we have staff members in our communities’ taking pictures of residents’ buttocks, sacrum, ischium, etc., supposedly to “show the healing progress” or “lack of healing”. There are so many reasons why this is not a good idea but if you remember other adages, “pictures add 10 pounds to how you look” and “pictures don’t lie”, I’m here to tell you, there is nothing good that can come out of photographing wounds.

Here are a few examples of why this can circle back to bite you. How about your policy on wound care; does it indicate that photographs will be taken? Likely no. Seriously, look at your policy. What about training? Are you sure? Interview your staff, we did that recently only to be told “I was never trained on this equipment, I just take the pictures”. Well, isn’t that just great? How about the photograph that shows a wound has worsened, however when the wound is assessed by a licensed nurse it is actually healing nicely? Will that photograph help you? NO!

To be clear, if a resident is admitted with wounds, some communities photograph them. Okay, I’ll cut some slack there, but to continue photographing the wound weekly can be problematic! Please, from a liability perspective, talk to your QAPI committee, medical director, and wound physicians. Discuss the “why” you are currently photographing and why it can be problematic in the future. Think of the negative impact if a staff member were deposed, or a picture of a stage III wound is blown up on a big screen in front of a lay jury. Impactful? You bet! Do the right thing for your residents and your community. If your policy states that you photograph wounds, do it right, but honestly, why would you do it at all? Stay the course, stay well and stay informed!