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March 20, 2007 > Prevent a Wound From Becoming a Sore Spot

Prevent a Wound From Becoming a Sore Spot

Learn About Wound Care on Upcoming InHealth Program

As children, we quickly learn the healing routine for our bodies. We scrape a knee, cut a hand or get a splinter and it bleeds a little, we get a scab, and before you know it, we're healed. But every once in a while, the process goes array. We get a wound that doesn't heal, or seems to be taking a long time to heal, and even our doctor isn't sure why.

Washington Hospital's Outpatient Wound Care Center is a community resource for anyone who has a wound that is not healing and needs help solving the mystery. You can learn more about the Wound Care Center on an upcoming program on InHealth, A Washington Hospital Channel on Comcast Channel 78. "Inside Washington Hospital: Wound Care Center" takes an inside look at the different services and treatments that the Center provides and gives viewers a glimpse of how patients are evaluated and treated.

"The Wound Care Center is for people who have chronic wound problems that haven't been solved," says Dr. Prasad Kilaru, Medical Director for the Outpatient Wound Care Center.

A wound is an injury to living tissue, typically where the skin is broken, caused by a cut, a blow or some other impact. These wounds usually heal without any problem, but sometimes, due to other factors, like diabetes, infection or poor circulation, the wound doesn't heal. If a wound has been around for more than six weeks, it is usually termed a "chronic wound."

Dr. Kilaru says that sometimes a person may come into the Wound Care Center because of a wound on his or her own body that isn't healing. Or someone might notice a loved one has a chronic wound and suggest that they talk to their primary care physician about getting a referral to the Wound Care Center.

There are three ways a patient is referred to the Wound Care Center. A patient who is treated for a wound in the hospital and then gets discharged is referred to the Wound Care Center for follow-up on that wound. Sometimes, a primary care physician or a specialist is unable to detect the reason for a non-healing wound and refers the patient to the Wound Care Center. Or, a patient might refer himself to the Center to get care for a chronic wound.

The Wound Care Center staff has a wealth of experience they bring to being the "detectives" in solving the mystery of a non-healing wound. Dr. Kilaru specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery while clinical chronic wound specialist, Chung Mei Shih, R.N., runs the day to day operations at the clinic. The Wound Care Center also has a vascular surgeon, two podiatrists and multiple specialists that are also available to solve a wound problem. Dr. Kilaru emphasizes that the approach to treatment of a wound problem is a team effort involving both the Wound Care Center staff and the patient's primary physician.

"We're not replacing the referring physician," Dr. Kilaru says. "We work in conjunction with them and defer to them when we discuss our treatment plan."

There are several factors for why a wound may not be healing. If a patient has poor circulation, then he or she will see a vascular surgeon through the Wound Care Center who will act to correct the problem. Sometimes there is an infection in the wound that hasn't been treated. The Wound Care Center will find the organism that is causing the infection and then prescribe the appropriate antibiotics.

A wound may have a foreign object in it, like glass or bone, that is preventing healing and the Wound Care Center will have the object removed. If poor nutrition is the cause, the Wound Care Center works to correct that. Once in a while, it turns out that a patient is trying a home ready or some other treatment at home that is delaying the healing process and the Wound Care Center will educate the patient. Occasionally, the Wound Care Center will order a biopsy of a non-healing wound to rule out skin cancer as the problem.

If a patient is a diabetic and their condition is not being controlled properly, then the Wound Care Center will improve the care for the diabetic to help the body heal. Diabetic wounds can cause especially serious problems for the patient. The Wound Care Center has podiatrists who specialize in "Diabetic Foot," a problem that if not caught and treated, can lead to limb amputation. Diabetics can have a numb feeling in their feet that prevents them from detecting a wound created by ill-fitting shoes or a small cut from walking around with bare feet. Any break in the skin can attract bacteria to live in the wound. High blood-sugar levels in a diabetic make an open wound a good place for bacteria to thrive. An untreated wound in a diabetic can quickly become very serious.

"I hope that people who watch the InHealth program will gain an understanding of what the Wound Care Center has to offer and what they should do if they have a wound that hasn't healed," Dr. Kilaru says.

The Outpatient Wound Care Clinic is located at 1900 Mowry Ave., Fremont. For more information, call (510) 608-3290 or (888) 449-6863.

The InHealth program schedule is published weekly in the Tri-City Voice. It is also posted on Washington Hospital's website at InHealth Channel 78 is available to Comcast subscribers in Newark, Union City and Fremont. For more information on the InHealth Channel, visit, click on "For Our Community" and select "InHealth Channel" from the drop-down menu or call (800) 963-7070.

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