Pharmacists are being urged to take a leading role in dealing with chronic wounds during Wound Awareness Week

Chronic wounds are a “hidden affliction,” says Wounds Australia, ahead of the awareness week which runs from 15 to 21 July 2018.

Although chronic wounds can be healed, they often go untreated because Australians are “blind to wounds,” the organisation says.

Many people do not recognise that when they have a non-healing wound, they should immediately seek medical support to treat it, says Wounds Australia CEO Anne Buck.

“Chronic wounds are a hidden affliction in Australia and must be recognised as a serious health issue to safeguard our ageing population,” she says.

“Pharmacists need to educate at-risk patients, to support and empower them, and help raise awareness of chronic wounds.”

People who don’t realise they have a chronic wound can suffer without treatment for years.

Wounds Australia gave the example of David Templeman, who lived unknowingly with a chronic wound for most of his life, after injuring his leg playing football in 1970.

While Mr Templeman assumed it was a minor injury, his leg continued to bother him.

It was not until February 2017 when he sought treatment after a major flare-up in the same spot that he discovered he’d been living with a venous leg ulcer.

As part of Wound Awareness Week, Wounds Australia is urging pharmacists to “Talk About Wounds”: encouraging conversations with their patients about wounds that won’t heal so they understand the wound warning signs, who’s at risk, and what action to take if they have a chronic wound.

“I wish I knew to ask the question ‘is this a chronic wound?” said Mr Templeman. “My one piece of advice is that you shouldn’t suffer in silence – if a wound doesn’t show signs of healing within four weeks, you need to treat it seriously and seek appropriate medical assistance.”

Ms Buck says pharmacists have a particularly important role to play in raising wound awareness for at-risk clients such as those who receive ongoing medication for diabetes.

Wounds Australia is urging pharmacists to build their expertise in wound management by continuing their professional development with the peak body for wound care and management. This will ensure Australians are receiving the best treatment and advice for wound care.

“One of the key barriers we’ve seen for all health care professionals – from GPs and nurses to Indigenous health workers and pharmacists – is a lack of ongoing wound care education. With continual development of their skills, patients will receive the best care, and they will reduce the impact that chronic wounds are having on the population,” said Ms Buck.

Chronic wounds are a common problem costing Australia’s health system $3 billion annually. The number of sufferers is expected to soar due to Australia’s ageing population because people aged 65+ are most at risk.