Discharge Instructions for a Gunshot Wound
It will take some time for your gunshot wound to heal. The length of time depends on your health and how serious the wound is. The bullet may have broken a bone in your body or caused a lot of damage to muscles, organs, or nerves. Follow these instructions and any others your healthcare provider gives you to help you recover at home.
Once you are at home, caring for your wound is vital. Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Proper wound care may involve the following:
Make sure the wound stays clean and dry. Wash it daily with soap and water.
Raise the part of your body where the wound is, if directed.
Don’t soak the wound, unless your healthcare provider says it is OK to do so.
Also watch for signs of infection, such as:
Redness or swelling around the wound
A lot of blood or pus coming from the wound
Your healthcare provider may give you medicine to ease pain or to prevent an infection. Take these medicines as directed. If you have any serious side effects, talk with your healthcare provider right away.
Your healthcare provider may need to check on the wound from time to time to make sure it is healing normally. You may also need more surgeries, depending on the extent of your injuries. See your healthcare provider as directed.
It is normal to feel some stress and anxiety after a traumatic event like a gunshot wound. Tell your healthcare provider if you are feeling anxious, angry, or depressed or having trouble sleeping or focusing. A mental health expert can help.
Call 911 if any of these occur:
Wound continues to bleed even after putting direct pressure on it
For chest back or abdomen wounds:
Shortness of breath
Back or abdomen pain that gets worse
Dizziness or fainting
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
Redness, swelling, or fluid leaking from your wound that gets worse
Pain that gets worse
Symptoms that don’t get better, or get worse
December 10, 2017
Colwell C, et al. Initial evaluation and management of abdominal gunshot wounds in adults. UpToDate. June 8 2017:13., Zych GA, et al. Gunshot Wounds and Blast Injuries. In: Browner BD, et al, eds. Skeletal Trauma: Basic Science, Management, and Reconstruction. 5 ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2015:507-32.
Perez, Eric, MD,Turley, Raymond Kent, BSN, MSN, RN