The nurse is caring for a client with a wound with purulent, foul-smelling drainage. A wound culture is ordered. Which describes the correct collection technique?

  • clean the wound with normal saline before obtaining specimen
  • allow 24 hours for antibiotic therapy to take effect before sampling
  • obtain the specimen from the drainage at the bottom of the wound
  • culture the outer surface around the wound before collecting exudate
Number 1 is correct.
The wound should be cleaned with normal saline before sampling in order to remove normal skin flora. Do not delay culturing the wound; if the client is not already on antibiotics, the culture results guide the health care provider in prescribing the appropriate therapy. Old drainage should never be used as a sample because resident bacterial colonies from the skin are present in the exudate and may not be the cause of infection. The outer surface of the wound should not be cultured.