Guest Editorial: Embracing New Tools to Enhance Clinical Practice

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Laurie McNichol, MSN, RN, GNP, CWOCN, CWON-AP; Carolyn Watts, MSN, RN, CWON, CBPN-IC; Dianne Mackey, MSN, RN, CWOCN; and Christopher Carchidi, MBA

In 2015, the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN®) released an evidence- and consensus-based support surface selection algorithm, a tool designed to aid the bedside clinician in selecting the right surface for the right patient at the right time. Before the algorithm’s development, wound, ostomy and continence nurses could rely only on their own experiences and informal, facility-specific policies when selecting support surfaces; a national guideline did not exist to standardize the selection process. The Society’s support surface algorithm, published in the Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing1 after a thorough content validation process, guides clinicians through the multifaceted process of selecting a support surface for both the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers in patients across the continuum of care. 

Given the complexity of the selection process and how impractical it would be for clinicians to carry a hard copy of the algorithm, the task force behind its creation opted to supplement their work via the development of an electronic version of the algorithm that could be easily accessible across multiple devices and operating systems. The mobile version, available at, launched March 31, 2015. The algorithm does not require any downloads and will automatically optimize itself for use on desktop computers, tablets, phones, and other devices to ensure bedside clinicians can readily access the tool when faced with a situation that requires support surface selection for pressure ulcer prevention and treatment. 

Since its release last year, the algorithm has attracted more than 10,000 users internationally in diverse patient care settings, including acute, long-term, and home care. The American Nurses Association also recognized the value of the algorithm, featuring a story about its development in an issue of American Nurse Today.2 

The WOCN Society strongly encourages clicinians to incorporate the algorithm into practice and share their experiences with Society members so new clinical tools that lead to better patient outcomes can continue to be developed. To discuss algorithm use, OWM readers can write to the Society at share@wocn.orgowm_0516_edop_figure1

The Society is eager and willing to help clinicians put the algorithm into practice. Later this year, the organization will introduce a continuing education course focusing on how to use the support surface algorithm to treat patients in a variety of clinical settings. The course, including continuing education credits, will be free to all interested participants and will feature several patient case scenarios. Interested persons are directed to for more information on the course’s release date this summer. 

Persons attending the 2016 WOCN Society and CAET Joint Conference, June 4-8 in Montreal should visit the WOCN Society booth in the exhibit hall to learn more about how to use the support surface selection algorithm. 


1. McNichol L, Watts C, Mackey D, Beitz JM, Gray M. Identifying the right surface for the right patient at the right time: generation and content validation of an algorithm for support surface selection. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2015;42(1):19–37.

2. McNichol L, Watts C, Mackey D, Gray M, Carchidi C. Choosing a support surface to prevent pressure ulcers. Am Nurs Today. 2015;10(11). 


This article was not subject to the Ostomy Wound Management peer-review process.