Karen Campbell

Karen Campbell, the current President of ISTAP, is an adjunct faculty member for the Master’s of Clinical Science in Wound Healing at Western University in London ON Canada. In addition, she is an associate scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute. She has functioned as an advanced practice nurse in wound and continence care, and is currently a student in the ostomy portion of the WOC-EP Program with NSWOCC (Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Canada, formerly CAET)

Karen was the co-chair of the RNAO BPG on Pressure Injuries and the Canadian BPG on Pressure Ulcer prevention and Treatment in the SCI populations. She has been a  member of the International Skin Tear Advisory Panel and Incontinence Associated Dermatitis International Best Practice Principles panel. Karen has a strong interest in skin health and frequently speaks and publishes on this topic.

Skin tears are a serious challenge, but we can improve care by raising awareness, collecting data and implementing prevention programmes. Did you know that the skin is the largest organ in the body? It is also a vital barrier against infection. That is why it is so important to reduce the prevalence of skin tears and to care for them when they occur. Skin tears can occur at any age but are most commonly associated with older people in hospitals or long-term care. In one study of long-term care institutions in Canada, 26% of people had had a skin tear. Most skin tears occur on the arms and legs, often caused by blunt trauma or scratching. However, they can also occur in neonates or critically ill patients. I can personally attest, based on the experience my husband had in an intensive care unit (ICU), that patients with serious illnesses can be highly vulnerable to tears. At one point, my husband had around 200 skin tears. Skin tears occur frequently in the community – although more data is needed to help understand the true scale of their impact. Most older people prefer to live independently at home for as long as possible. As we age, our skin can become thinner and more fragile making us susceptible to tears. Imagine getting up in the night to visit the bathroom – either in a care setting or at home. It is essential that the path is well lit and free of hazards that may lead to falls or blunt trauma. Practical measures like this can help to reduce the burden of skin tears. That’s why it is so important that individuals, health professionals and institutions are aware of the risk. Critically ill patients require the administration of fluids and may need intravenous lines...