Post-operative nursing activities to prevent wound complications in patients undergoing colorectal surgeries: A scoping review

Georgia Tobiano, Wendy Chaboyer, Mavis Ying Ting Tong, Anne M Eskes, Selma C W Musters, Janelle Colquhoun, Georgina Herbert, Brigid M Gillespie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


AIMS: To identify postoperative interventions and quality improvement initiatives used to prevent wound complications in patients undergoing colorectal surgeries, the types of activities nurses undertake in these interventions/initiatives and how these activities align with nurses' scope of practice.

DESIGN: A scoping review.

DATA SOURCES: Three health databases were searched, and backward and forward citation searching occurred in April 2022. Research and quality improvement initiatives included focussed on adult patients undergoing colorectal surgery, from 2010 onwards. Data were extracted about study characteristics, nursing activities and outcomes. The 'Dimensions of the scope of nursing practice' framework was used to classify nursing activities and then the Patterns, Advances, Gaps, Evidence for practice and Research recommendations framework was used to synthesise the review findings.

RESULTS: Thirty-seven studies were included. These studies often reported negative wound pressure therapy and surgical site infection bundle interventions/initiatives. Nurses' scope of practice was most frequently 'Technical procedure and delegated medical care' meaning nurses frequently acted under doctors' orders, with the most common delegated activity being dressing removal.

CONCLUSION: The full extent of possible interventions nurses could undertake independently in the postoperative period requires further exploration to improve wound outcomes and capitalise on nurses' professional role.

IMPACT STATEMENT: Nurses' role in preventing postoperative wound complications is unclear, which may inhibit their ability to influence postoperative outcomes. In the postoperative period, nurses undertake technical activities, under doctors' orders to prevent wound infections. For practice, nurses need to upkeep and audit their technical skills. New avenues for researchers include exploration of independent activities for postoperative nurses and the outcomes of these activities.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE PROFESSION AND/OR PATIENT CARE: There may be opportunities to broaden nurses' scope of practice to act more autonomously to prevent wound complication.

REPORTING METHOD: Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) checklist.

PATIENT OR PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: A health consumer interpreted the data and prepared the manuscript.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2023


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