Impaired Tissue Integrity & Wound Care Nursing Care Plan


You can use this guide to help you develop your nursing care plan and nursing interventions for impaired tissue integrity. 

What constitutes our body’s protection against external threats? Yes, it’s the integumentary system, specifically, our skin, cornea, subcutaneous tissues, and mucous membranes are our first line of defense against threats from the external environment. In a normal setting, these defenses are adequate to defend the body from any threats, however, there are factors that may cause impairment or a break in this line of defense causing impairment of tissue integrity.

The most common cause includes physical trauma (e.g., car accident, sports injury, cuts, blunt trauma, etc.,). Other causes can be related to thermal factors (e.g., burns, frostbites), or chemical injury (e.g., adverse reactions to drugs), infection, nutritional imbalances, fluid imbalances, and altered circulation (e.g., pressure ulcers).

A break in tissue integrity is normally repaired by the body very well, though there are circumstances that it doesn’t repair it at all and replaces the damaged tissue with connective tissue. When tissue integrity is left untreated, it could cause local or systemic infection and ultimately lead to necrosis.


See Also: Risk for Impaired Skin Integrity Care Plan » 

Other factors also include age, weight loss, poor nutrition and hydration, excessive moisture and dryness, smoking, and other conditions affecting blood flow.

Signs and Symptoms

Impaired skin integrity is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Affected area hot, tender to touch
  • Damaged or destroyed tissue (e.g., cornea, mucous membranes, integumentary, subcutaneous)
  • Local pain
  • Protectiveness toward site
  • Skin and tissue color changes (red, purplish, black)
  • Swelling around the initial injury

Goals and Outcomes

The following are the common goals and expected outcomes for impaired tissue integrity. Use them in writing your short term or long term goals for your impaired tissue integrity care plan:

  • Patient reports any altered sensation or pain at site of tissue impairment.
  • Patient demonstrates understanding of plan to heal tissue and prevent injury.
  • Patient describes measures to protect and heal the tissue, including wound care.
  • Patient’s wound decreases in size and has increased granulation tissue.

Nursing Assessment for Impaired Tissue Integrity

Assessment is required in order to recognize possible problems that may have lead to Impaired Tissue Integrity as well as identify any episode that may transpire during nursing care.

Determine etiology (e.g., acute or chronic wound, burn, dermatological lesion, pressure ulcer, leg ulcer).Prior assessment of wound etiology is critical for proper identification of nursing interventions.
Assess site of impaired tissue integrity and its condition.Redness, swelling, pain, burning, and itching are indication of inflammation and the body’s immune system response to localized tissue trauma or impaired tissue integrity.
Assess characteristics of wound, including color, size (length, width, depth), drainage, and odor.These findings will give information on extent of the impaired tissue integrity or injury. Pale tissue color is a sign of decreased oxygenation. Odor may be a result of presence of infection on the site; it may also be coming from a necrotic tissue. Serous exudate from a wound is a normal part of inflammation and must be differentiated from pus or purulent discharge, which is present in infection.
Assess changes in body temperature, specifically increased in body temperature.Fever is a systemic manifestation of inflammation and may indicate the presence of infection.
Assess the patient’s level of distress.Pain is part of the normal inflammatory process. The extent and depth of injury may affect pain sensations.
Know signs of itching and scratching.The patient who scratches the skin in attempts to alleviate extreme itching may open skin lesion and increase risk for infection.
Assess patient’s nutritional status; refer for a nutritional consultation and/or institute dietary supplements.Inadequate nutritional intake places the patient at risk for skin breakdown and compromises healing further causing impaired tissue integrity.
Classify pressure ulcers by assessing the extent of tissue damage.Wound assessment is more reliable when classified in such manner according to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. The following are the stages of pressure ulcers:

Stage I. Nonblanchable erythema signaling potential ulceration.

Stage II. Partial-thickness skin loss (abrasion, blister, or a shallow crater) involving the epidermis and may extend through the dermis.

Stage III. full-thickness skin loss involving damage to or necrosis of subcutaneous tissue that may extend down to but not through underlying fascia; ulcer appears as a deep crater with or without undermining of adjacent tissue.

Stage IV. Full-thickness skin loss with extensive destruction; tissue necrosis; or damage to muscle, bone, or supporting structures (e.g., tendons, joint capsules)
Pay special attention to all high-risk areas such as bony prominences, skin folds, sacrum, and heels.Systematic inspection can identify impending problems early and provide early treatment.
Identify a plan for debridement when necrotic tissue (eschar or slough) is present and if compatible with overall patient management goals.Healing does not transpire in the appearance of necrotic tissue.

Nursing Interventions for Impaired Tissue Integrity

The following are the therapeutic nursing interventions for Impaired Tissue Integrity nursing diagnosis:

Nursing InterventionsRationales
Monitor site of impaired tissue integrity at least once daily for color changes, redness, swelling, warmth, pain, or other signs of infection.Systematic inspection can identify impending problems early.
Monitor status of skin around wound. Monitor patient’s skin care practices, noting the type of soap or other cleansing agents used, temperature of water, and frequency of skin cleansing.Individualize plan is necessary according to patient’s skin condition, needs, and preferences.
Provide tissue care as needed.Each type of wound is best treated based on its etiology. Skin wounds may be covered with wet or dry dressings, topical creams or lubricants, hydrocolloid dressings (e.g., DuoDerm) or vapor-permeable membrane dressings such as Tegaderm. An eye patch or hard, plastic shield for corneal injury. The dressing replaces the protective function of the injured tissue during the healing process.
Keep a sterile dressing technique during wound care.This technique reduces the risk of infection in impaired tissue integrity.
Premedicate for dressing changes as necessary.Manipulation of profound or extensive cuts or injuries may be painful.
Wet thoroughly the dressings with sterile normal saline solution before removal.Saturating dressings will ease the removal by loosening adherents and decreasing pain, especially with burns.
Monitor patient’s continence status and minimize exposure of skin impairment site and other areas to moisture from incontinence, perspiration, or wound drainage.This is to prevent exposure to chemicals in urine and stool that can strip or erode the skin causing further impaired tissue integrity.
If patient is incontinent, implement an incontinence management plan.This is to prevent exposure to chemicals in urine and stool that can strip or erode the skin.
Administer antibiotics as ordered.Wound infections may be managed well and more efficiently with topical agents, although intravenous antibiotics may be indicated.
Tell patient to avoid rubbing and scratching. Provide gloves or clip the nails if necessary.Rubbing and scratching can cause further injury and delay healing.
Encourage a diet that meets nutritional needs.A high-protein, high-calorie diet may be needed to promote healing.
Discuss relationship between adequate nutrition consisting of fluids, protein, vitamins B and C, iron, and calories.Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining an intact skin and in promoting wound healing.
Monitor for proper placement of tubes, catheters, and other devices. Assess skin and tissue affected by the tape that secures these devices.Mechanical damage to skin and tissues as a result of pressure, friction, or shear is often associated with external devices.
Check every two (2) hours for proper placement of footboards, restraints, traction, casts, or other devices, and assess skin and tissue integrity.Mechanical damage to skin and tissues (pressure, friction, or shear) is often associated with external devices.
For patients with limited mobility, use a risk assessment tool to systematically assess immobility-related risk factors.This is to identify patients at risk for immobility-related skin breakdown.
Do not position the patient on site of impaired tissue integrity. If ordered, turn and position patient at least every 2 hours, and carefully transfer patient.This is to avoid the adverse effects of external mechanical forces (pressure, friction, and shear).
Maintain the head of the bed at the lowest degree of elevation possible.To reduce shear and friction.
Educate patient about proper nutrition, hydration, and methods to maintain tissue integrity.The patient needs proper knowledge of his or her condition to prevent impaired tissue integrity.
Teach skin and wound assessment and ways to monitor for signs and symptoms of infection, complications, and healing.Early assessment and intervention help prevent the development of serious problems.
Instruct patient, significant others, and family in the proper care of the wound including hand washing, wound cleansing, dressing changes, and application of topical medications).Accurate information increases the patient’s ability to manage therapy independently and reduce the risk for infection.
Encourage the use of pillows, foam wedges, and pressure-reducing devices.To prevent pressure injury.
Educate the patient the need to notify the physician or nurse.This is to prevent further impaired tissue integrity complications.

References and Sources

Recommended resources for the nursing diagnosis impaired tissue integrity and care plan:

  1. Baranoski, S., & Ayello, E. A. (2008). Wound care essentials: Practice principles. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  2. Berman, A., Snyder, S. J., Kozier, B., Erb, G. L., Levett-Jones, T., Dwyer, T., … & Parker, B. (2014). Kozier & Erb’s Fundamentals of Nursing Australian Edition (Vol. 3). Pearson Higher Education AU.
  3. Carpenito-Moyet, L. J. (2006). Handbook of nursing diagnosis. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  4. Corbett, L. Q. (2012). Wound care nursing: professional issues and opportunitiesAdvances in wound care1(5), 189-193.
  5. Hardy, M. A. (1990). A pilot study of the diagnosis and treatment of impaired skin integrity: dry skin in older persons. International Journal of Nursing Terminologies and Classifications1(2), 57-63.
  6. Iverson-Carpenter, M. S. (1988). Impaired skin integrityJournal of geron
  7. Malaquias, S. G., Bachion, M. M., Martins, M. A., Nunes, C. A. D. B., Torres, G. D. V., & Pereira, L. V. (2014). Impaired tissue integrity, related factors and defining characteristics in persons with vascular ulcers. Texto & Contexto-Enfermagem23(2), 434-442.
  8. Menna Barreto, L. N., Swanson, E. A., & de Abreu Almeida, M. (2016). Nursing outcomes for the diagnosis impaired tissue integrity (00044) in adults with pressure ulcerInternational journal of nursing knowledge27(2), 104-110.
  9. Menna Barreto, L. N., Silva, M. B. D., Engelman, B., Figueiredo, M. S., Rodríguez‐Acelas, A. L., Cañon‐Montañez, W., & Almeida, M. D. A. (2019). Evaluation of surgical wound healing in orthopedic patients with impaired tissue integrity according to nursing outcomes classificationInternational journal of nursing knowledge30(4), 228-233.
  10. Mendham, J. E. (2004). Gabapentin for the treatment of itching produced by burns and wound healing in children: a pilot study. Burns30(8), 851-853.
  11. Murphy, J. V., Banwell, P. E., Roberts, A. H., & McGrouther, D. A. (2000). Frostbite: pathogenesis and treatmentJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery48(1), 171.
  12. Pezzi, M. V., Rabelo‐Silva, E. R., Paganin, A., & de Souza, E. N. (2016). Nursing Interventions and Outcomes for the Diagnosis of Impaired Tissue Integrity in Patients After Cardiac Catheterization: Survey. International journal of nursing knowledge27(4), 215-219.
  13. Ratliff, C. (1990). Impaired skin integrity related to radiation therapyJournal of enterostomal therapy17(5), 193.
  14. Piloian, B. B. (1992). Defining characteristics of the nursing diagnosis” high risk for impaired skin integrity”Decubitus5(5), 32-4.

Gil Wayne graduated in 2008 with a bachelor of science in nursing. He earned his license to practice as a registered nurse during the same year. His drive for educating people stemmed from working as a community health nurse. He conducted first aid training and health seminars and workshops for teachers, community members, and local groups. Wanting to reach a bigger audience in teaching, he is now a writer and contributor for Nurseslabs since 2012 while working part-time as a nurse instructor. His goal is to expand his horizon in nursing-related topics. He wants to guide the next generation of nurses to achieve their goals and empower the nursing profession.

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