University of Western Australia: UWA researcher wins international wound care award

A leading researcher in wound healing from The University of Western Australia has been awarded a prestigious international award for innovation in treatment of surgical wound complications.

Dr Kylie Sandy-Hodgetts, a senior research fellow at UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences, was judged the best of 20 international entrants in the ‘Innovation in Surgical Site Infection’ category of the Journal of Wound Care & World Union of Wound Healing Societies Awards.

Dr Sandy-Hodgetts’ research has drawn attention to the importance of predicting at-risk patients, the accurate assessment of wound infection after surgery and whether infection is at play, while also providing a new diagnostic tool for clinicians.

Her research calls for a clinicians to change how they view and predict surgical wound complications such as dehiscence in patients before surgery. Dehiscence is where the edges of a surgical wound come apart.

The risk assessment tool provides health care providers with the opportunity to identify and manage the risk of surgical wound dehiscence before a patient undergoes surgery.

The diagnostic surgical wound dehiscence grading system developed by Dr Sandy-Hodgetts was integrated into an international clinical consensus document, which allows clinicians to accurately diagnose and classify the wound breakdown and whether infection has played a role.

Dr Sandy-Hodgetts said she was humbled to have received such an acknowledgment from her colleagues.

“The ability to predict those who may be susceptible to a wound breakdown following surgery allows for intervention early in their care and potentially prevent a wound complication,” Dr Sandy-Hodgetts said.

“The impact on patient outcomes is considerable and requires a multidisciplinary approach to tackle the issue. The Sandy SWD grading system allows the clinician to diagnose whether the wound complication has occurred due to infection or due to other patient or lifestyle factors.

“While we have over a decade of work in pressure injury prevention and a grading system to diagnose pressure injury, surgical wound dehiscence has no such system and therefore makes it difficult to diagnose and manage appropriately. Awareness and education around this type of wound is critical for early identification, prevention and management.”

The awards are usually held as a gala dinner at the association’s annual congress, recognising international excellence in the practice and research of wound care.

Founded in Australia in 2000, the World Union of Wound Healing Societies is the premier wound care professional association and represents more than 90 per cent of all practising wound care specialists in the world.

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