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Tips for Photographing Wounds

Photographing wounds is an essential part of documenting quality care, complications and healing progress. A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to accurately depict the status and progress. Hopefully, you will never regret not having that level of documentation to support your care.

A photograph can serve to visually describe a wound. It can be annotated to point out any areas of concern such as infection or hyper granulation. Pictures can also show greater progress towards healing in one area and not others. As you can see in the pictures below, consistent photos taken over a period of time can help document the healing process.

tips for photographing wounds
Wound healing process shot over three weeks

Considerations for the patient

  • HIPAA compliance, no identifying information
  • Consent (often included in the general medical consents for hospitals and home health or hospice agencies, but verify this.
  • Be sure to account for the patient’s privacy — i.e. close doors, pull curtains, drape the area

Tips to photograph wounds and improve your technique

Take a few minutes to prepare to get the best photograph. Look for the best lighting and avoid shadows or glare. Indirect sunlight is often the best. Test how built-in flash will help or hinder the photo.

  • Stand about 4 ft away — clear a spot for you to stand unobstructed
  • Use consistent angle for each photo and plan for a progression of photos weekly
  • Position patient in same pose
  • Use colored draping instead of white to balance the colors
  • If yours or anyone’s hands are visible in the picture use gloves as evidence of proper infection control
  • Remove all unnecessary objects from the field of vision through the camera lens
  • Steady the camera by pushing your elbows into your torso
  • Make sure the wound is clearly in focus
  • Count down for the patient so s/he’ll remain still— 3-2-1
  • Take a deep breath and hold it while clicking the shutter button
  • Take 2-3 shots to ensure you have the best quality picture to choose
  • Check the photos if possible (phone or digital camera) to ensure you got the picture(s) you want
  • Delete the picture from your device as soon as you verify successful upload or transfer to the chart or computer
  • NEVER share on social media or other sites!

Other suggestions for photographing wounds

For proper identification, use a 4X6 index card and write the date and patient’s medical record number. Place the card near the wound and be sure it’s in focus in the photograph.

A ruler or tape measure can also be placed next to the wound to provide an accurate point of reference. If unavailable any small object such as a coin can be used to provide a comparison.

Show the patient the photos so they know what you are placing in their legal record. Perhaps this also gives them a visualization of wounds they cannot see.