Ilizarov frame patients will be familiar with the daily ritual of pin site cleaning.
Every morning after removing old dressings and showering I have to clean all 15 pin sites using saline fluid and special polygon ‘lollipop’ cleaning sticks and any pin sites that are weeping or bleed have to be covered with a non-adhesive padded dressing.
Whilst I was in hospital this was no problem, I was provided each day with a kit of the fluid, lollipop sticks and dressings as required. And when I was discharged I was issued with a small stock of them to keep me going.
Back at home I researched the dressings and cleaning sticks I needed and it threw up some nasty surprises! The 5cm x 5cm Allevyn Non-Adhesive dressings cost £18 per box of 10. Even though I only have 5 pin sites that require dressing that is nearly £9/day for dressings alone or £270 per month!
The polygon lollipop sticks however, are only available in bulk packs of 300 and these cost £60+. I can’t be sure of the exact price as I can’t find anyone who sells to the general public.
I’d assumed that our GP would simply issue a prescription for these but whilst they will happily cover the dressings, albeit in 20cm x 10cm packs which I cut up as required and the saline, the lollipop sticks are not on the list of prescribable items and so I can’t have them.
I can understand budgets etc and that there has to be a limit. I could use cotton buds which is what most recommend as an option and indeed I do for those pins that simply require a gentle clean. But for pins which are heavily crusted in blood etc, the lollipop sticks are ideal as they scrub the pin and skin gently but with enough vigour to remove the dried blood. Cotton buds or Q-Tips simply don’t work in these circumstances.
So now I’m left rationing out the few remaining lollipop sticks for the most troublesome pin sites only and use cotton buds for the remainder. I’m still trying to find a supplier who will sell the lollipop sticks to the public, I am lucky enough to be able to afford them although even a pack of 300 is only 8wks supply when rationed or 2wks if used on each pin.
Given I already have one infected pin site, and the danger that a pin infection could pose if untreated, proper cleansing is as important as any other part of this procedure so it does seem rather short sighted that I can’t get these cleaning sticks more easily.
if anyone can suggest a source for these sticks, (NHS Supply Reference) in whatever quantity then I’d be grateful!