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A New Addition to Duke Clinics: Inclusive Skin Tone Bandages

When you put on a bandage that does not match your skin tone, the issue becomes less about wound care and more about a sense of belonging

A new initiative seeks to make patients feel included in health care.
A new initiative seeks to make patients feel included in health care.

A small change in supplies at Duke Health is making a big statement to patients – we see you.

Private Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) providers can now order bandages in a range of skin tones. This new option draws less attention to an injury or post-procedure covering, and more importantly, it supports an inclusive environment.

“We have high level strategies, short term goals, longitudinal plans and everything in between. With this initiative, we wanted patients to know, above everything else, we are considering them in the decisions we make day-to-day. This includes reviewing our bandage inventory,” said Erica Taylor, MD, MBA, a Duke hand surgeon and the associate chief medical officer for diversity, equity and inclusion with the PDC. “This is one tangible demonstration of how it matters to us that our patients are represented in the operations of our clinics.”

The bandages currently available are supplied by a company called Tru-Colour. Multiple clinics have piloted the bandages, including pediatrics, dermatology and orthopaedics as well as multiple COVID vaccination clinics. PDC Administrative Fellows Addison Newman, MHA, and Ellice Mae Sanchez, MHA, who have worked with Taylor on this project, have said patient feedback has been positive. Seventy-two percent of patients said receiving a bandage that matched their skin tone improved the overall experience of their clinic visit. Ninety percent of patients identified with the shade of the bandage they selected, and 92 percent of patients reported the quality of the Tru-Colour bandages was on par with or better than previous bandages.

“Personally, seeing these bandages makes me proud of my skin,” said Sanchez. “It’s a small change, but a big impact.”

“We do a lot behind the scenes to support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives that patients do not always see,” said Newman. “But this is a tangible product they can see.”

The bandages can be ordered through the Buy@Duke Henry Schein punch-out catalog by searching Tru-Colour from the homepage. Taylor has introduced the Tru-Colour bandages in her clinic and encourages providers to let patients choose which option best matches their skin tone.

“This project has been extremely encouraging because of the evolution of leaders joining the advancing health together movement,” Taylor said. “This is transcending individual units and engaging team members across Duke Health to work together, including supply chain, senior leadership and clinic managers.”

The initial suggestion of broadening the scope of shades offered to patients was brought to the PDC by physicians in the dermatology clinics. Appropriately so, they are front line with patients who are evaluating skin tone representation in care and had come across the Tru-Colour line. When Taylor began socializing the concept across divisions and units to garner support and guidance for implementation, the positive reception and excitement to make this a reality at Duke was amazing.

“It was very interesting. Some of the responses were ‘Of course! Why didn’t we do this sooner?’ and other responses were on the range of ‘Finally’ and ‘It’s about time,’” said Taylor. “It is rare to have immediate feedback on the hard work everyone is doing to advance health equity. Hopefully this give our teams reassurance that what we are doing across the board matters and makes a difference.”