Journal Articles

The language of non-healing wounds

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The language of non-healing wounds

Samantha Holloway
12 September 2021

Wounds are generally referred to as acute and chronic and while the term ‘acute’ does not usually generate much debate the name ‘chronic’ often does. The categorisation of acute and chronic is often used in relation to how long it takes for a wound to heal i.e. 4 to 6 weeks for an acute wound. However in terms of a leg ulcer the recent Lower Limb Recommendations define a leg ulcer as, ‘an open lesion between the knee and ankle joint that remains unhealed for at least two to four weeks’ (National Wound Care Strategy Programme [NWCSP], 2020). Chronic infers long-term, yet with the appropriate management the majority of wounds should heal. Hence it may be time to review the notion of how we use the terms acute and chronic in relation to wounds. Alternative terms such as hard-to-heal, complex, delayed, recalcitrant and stalled have been suggested as has ‘wounds in remission’ but there is yet to be an agreed consensus. I would encourage you to reflect on how you refer to non-healing wounds and consider whether terminology matters.

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