Regaining Skin: Wounds, Dressings and the Containment of Abjection
The study on which this paper is based is an ethnography of wound care procedures in a burn trauma unit (Rudge 1997, 1998). In such a unit, wound care procedures could mean providing a shower where the patient’s dressings1 are removed and their entire body is washed or bathed. When the person requires graft care when grafts2 are newly applied, then the patient is washed in bed, with their burnt areas attended to in this way while trying to keep the graft and surgical sites as still as possible. Each patient who agreed to participate in this study was admitted to the unit after sustaining a major burn trauma3. The patients formed the central focus of the study and were observed while different nurses undertook their wound dressings on three to four occasions each week of their admission. Each patient participant was interviewed about the experience of burn trauma, dressing processes and on discharge, their overall impressions of the experience. Nurses were interviewed about learning to be a burns nurse, the process of wound care and beliefs about burns nursing. Medical records and nursing documentation were another source of data, as were meetings where wounds and wound management were a focus of discussion.