Drinking water could be a simple, cheap and effective way to clean wounds according to a recent study by the University of Western Sydney and Sydney South West Area Health Service.
Professor Rhonda Griffiths, from the UWS School of Nursing, says the research arose from an inquiry by community health nurses who needed evidence to support a common practice and belief that showering patients with leg ulcers was both safe and effective.
"In response we searched for studies done by others on cleansing wounds using the shower, however we were unable to locate any evidence to support the practice," Professor Griffiths says.
"So we conducted a six-week double blind, randomised controlled trial in South Western Sydney involving 35 patients with 49 wounds.
"None of the wounds cleansed with tap water showed signs of infection and we found no sign that the healing rate was slow.
"We came to the conclusion that where there is access to tap water that is suitable for drinking, it may be as effective – and certainly more cost effective – than other methods," Professor Griffiths says.
"Although the results need to be confirmed by a larger study, we believe that with this simple, yet robust, trial we have uncovered evidence that could save nurses' time, reduce costs and also make it easier to involve patients in their own self-care of wounds.
"This research shows how a clinical problem identified by working nurses, can promote research to then go on to inform existing practice," she says.
'Water for Wound Cleansing' by UWS researchers Ms Ritin Fernandez, Professor Rhonda Griffiths and Ms Cheryl Ussia has become one of the top 25 accessed reviews in The Cochrane Library, which holds more than 2,500 systematic reviews of health care interventions.
The report is now one of the most highly-accessed reviews currently published by an international library of health care studies.
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