Diagnostic Insights for Veterinary Nurses
February 2020

Top 5 Iatrogenic Bandaging Complications Veterinary Nurses Should Avoid

By Dr. Jennifer Martin

  1. Bandage is too tight: The bandage may be placed on an animal too tightly initially, or it may have become too tight due to swelling. This essentially creates a tourniquet effect resulting in tissue necrosis and may lead to the loss of the bandaged limb or tail.

  2. Bandage is too loose: Bandages applied too loosely may slip, causing inadequate protection and support. Slippage may also lead to tendon and ligament injuries. Clients are often frustrated when the bandage fails to stay on the extremity.

  3. Inadequate padding: Insufficient padding may lead to rubbing and irritation of the skin resulting in bandage sores.

  4. Insufficient coverage of the extremity: Bandages should start at the toes or hoof and be wrapped proximally. Failure to sufficiently cover an extremity may lead to the bandage slipping, or if wrapped too tightly, may lead to edema distal to the bandage.

  5. Inadequate protection of joints: Inadequately protecting joints may lead to pressure sores at the location of bony prominences. Adding extra padding can help to distribute pressure at those locations more evenly.

Be sure to schedule follow-up bandage change appointments with your clients before they leave your practice. In addition, discuss the frequency in which they should check bandage as well as how to keep the bandage clean and dry at home. Discuss possible complications with them as well as issues to watch for and have them call if they have any questions or concerns. Complications arising from bandaging are a common source of litigation for a veterinary practice, so it is crucial to avoid them.

Dr. Martin is the Director of the Veterinary Nursing Program at Colby Community College in Colby, KS.

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