REMOVING A SOILED DRESSING
Incisions and wounds that have been sutured will normally have two layers of
dressing. One layer consists of gauze pads laid directly over the closed cut. A larger
dressing will then be placed over the gauze pads. This second (outer) dressing covers
more area than the inner dressing (gauze pads). If the wound is on the arm or leg, the
dressings are normally secured with a bandage. If the wound is on the trunk of the
body, such as an abdominal wound, the outer dressing is normally secured by tape. In
the following example, the sterile dressing being changed covers an abdominal wound.
a. Verify Patient's Identity. Make sure that the patient whose dressing is to be
changed is the patient for whom the action was ordered. Ask the patient his name.
Also compare the patient's name on the orders with the name listed on the patient's bed
card and identification bracelet.
b. Reassure the Patient. Provide privacy if possible by placing a screen or
curtain around the patient or by closing the door. Gain the patient's help and confidence
by telling him why you are changing the dressing.
c. Wash Hands. Perform a patient care handwash. Handwashing may not
always be possible in a field situation; however, every effort should be made to provide
d. Obtain Necessary Equipment and Supplies. The following items are
(1) Dressings--4-in x 4-in (10-cm x 10-cm) and 4-in x
8-in (10-cm x 20-cm) sponges.
Gauze pads (sponges).
Cotton-tipped applicators gauze pads may be used instead.
Basins for adhesive solvent and for normal saline.
Sterile towels (for sterile field).
(10) Sterile forceps.