It is now very common practice for nurses to use photography as a tool during wound assessment. This section will look at why the use of photography has increased and the potential implications for patient confidentiality.

Note: photography should not be used in isolation because an in-depth assessment of the patient and the wound (see part 1 and 2 of this module) must also occur.

Wound appearance can be recorded in a number of different ways. The most common and simple way is a written description. These are based on the practitioner’s interpretation of what they see. Each practitioner who assesses a wound is likely to write a different description. Conversely, a written wound assessment is open to misinterpretation when it is read by other practitioners (Dealey, 2005; Flanagan, 2003).

The use of photography in wound assessment addresses some of the problems of the written wound assessment, as a good photograph clearly shows the appearance of a wound at a certain time. Photography can also be used to track the progression of a wound, particularly when a scale is included in the picture. This can be a powerful motivational tool, both for the patient and staff.

Wound photos can be used as an adjunct to clinical care, for discussions about care with colleagues, for education, for publication in nursing (or medical) journals or as part of medical research (Sperring and Baker, 2014; Hampton, 2016). Despite this, there are some important factors to consider when using photography in wound assessment. These must be understood by a practitioner so that it is used appropriately.