<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=200498&amp;fmt=gif">
Toggle Nav

Puritan Blog

May 28, 2024Print this page

Guide to Using DM Sticks as a Wound Measurement Tool

A healthcare professional in blue scrubs and glasses is smiling while wrapping a bandage around a patient's wrist. The patient, who is wearing glasses and a plaid shirt, looks on.

Accurate wound measurement is a cornerstone of effective medical care, playing a crucial role in treatment decisions and monitoring of healing progress. Wound measurement devices (a.k.a. DM sticks or disposable measuring sticks) have become an essential modern healthcare tool — but did you also know DM sticks are crucial for wound measurement at crime scenes?

The more you know! 

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into what DM sticks are used for and how they’ve become a crucial tool for both healthcare and diagnostic professionals to use when on the case (whatever the type of case may be). 

What are DM Sticks?

DM sticks, or Davis-Mangels sticks, are specialized medical devices designed to provide precise and accurate measurements of wounds. Named after their inventors, these sticks are essential tools in both clinical and forensic settings, where detailed assessment of wound dimensions is crucial for effective treatment and investigative processes. 

DM sticks are specially designed tools used for measuring the dimensions of wounds. Made from medical-grade materials, these sticks feature calibrated markings that allow healthcare professionals to accurately measure wound length, width, and depth. When used as intended, this hygienically produced single-use device prevents cross-contamination between patients.

What are DM Sticks Used For?

In the medical field, DM sticks are primarily used to measure the length, width, and depth of wounds. This is particularly important in chronic wound management, such as pressure ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, and surgical wounds. In the United States alone, 3% of adults 65 and older have a chronic open wound. By accurately measuring these dimensions, healthcare professionals can:

  • Monitor healing progress: Regular measurement of wounds helps track changes over time, providing data that is critical in evaluating the effectiveness of treatment strategies.

  • Tailor treatments: Precise measurements allow for the customization of treatment plans according to the specific needs of each wound, which can range from selecting appropriate wound care products to deciding on the necessity for surgical intervention.

  • Prevent complications: Accurate wound assessment helps in the early detection of complications such as infections or worsening conditions, enabling timely interventions that can prevent serious outcomes.

Additionally, DM sticks are also invaluable in forensic science, particularly in crime scene investigations where the measurement of wounds can yield important clues about an incident. Forensic experts use DM sticks to:

  • Determine the nature of injuries: Detailed measurements of wounds can help ascertain the type of weapon used or the force applied during the infliction of wounds, which are key elements in criminal investigations.
  • Reconstruct crime scenes: Understanding the severity and mechanics of wounds can assist in reconstructing how a crime was committed, contributing to the profiling of suspects and the sequence of events.

  • Support legal proceedings: Forensic documentation that includes precise wound measurements can provide robust evidence in court, supporting legal arguments and helping to clarify the circumstances surrounding criminal acts.

Why Utilize DM Sticks vs. Traditional Measurement Tools?

Unlike traditional rulers or tape measures that are not specifically designed for medical use, DM sticks are tailored for wound assessment. They are more hygienic, easier to use in a clinical setting, and provide measurements that are more precise, which is critical for treatment accuracy.

Advantages of Using DM Sticks as a Wound Ruler

There are a number of advantages that DM sticks provide over other wound measurement methods, including:

  • Precision: DM sticks provide exact measurements that are crucial for tracking the healing process and planning treatments. 

  • Consistency: Their consistent accuracy helps in documenting wound progression over time, a key factor in successful wound management.

  • Safe: Designed with the user in mind, DM sticks are easy to handle and reduce the risk of contact with wound exudates, protecting both the patient and the healthcare provider from potential infections.

How DM Sticks Improve Wound Measurement

Accurate measurements obtained with DM sticks play a vital role in determining the appropriate treatment plan. They help clinicians assess the severity of wounds and choose suitable wound care products or interventions. Regular use of DM sticks can lead to earlier detection of complications, such as infections or delayed healing, thereby improving overall patient outcomes.

Innovation with DM Sticks and Technology

We’ve come a long way since the original wound measurement tools — Florence Nightingale can attest. 

This image is a headshot of wound measurement tool pioneer, Florence Nightingale.Did you know that Florence Nightingale was a wound measurement pioneer? When taking care of British soldiers in the 1800s, Florence first recognized a very important part of wound care: monitoring and documenting. This included measuring wounds in order to track improvement or deterioration over time. Her efforts helped establish a standard of care that still exists today.

Recent advancements have seen DM sticks integrated with digital technologies. Some models now come with QR codes that, when scanned, allow direct input of measurements into electronic health records, enhancing documentation efficiency and accuracy.

Step-by-Step Guide: Using DM Sticks

  • Prepare the area: Ensure the wound and surrounding skin are clean.

  • Measure length: Place the end of the DM stick at the top of the wound, and measure straight down to the bottom.

  • Measure width: Measure the widest part of the wound, perpendicular to the length.

  • Measure depth: Gently insert the end of the stick into the deepest part of the wound.

  • Document measurements: Record the measurements to monitor changes over time.

An important note to consider: DM sticks are designed for single use.  It is crucial that you use a fresh stick for each patient or wound.  Always dispose of the DM stick after use according to your facility’s guidelines for medical waste.

If you need additional support, we wrote a whole blog on how to measure a wound — check it out!

How to Choose the Right DM Stick for Your Needs

When selecting a DM stick, it's essential to consider the types of wounds you frequently encounter in your practice. Factors like stick length, flexibility, and gradation marks should be tailored to meet the specific needs of various wound types.

The Puritan Advantage in DM Sticks

At Puritan, we offer two specialized DM sticks designed with precision and ease of use to enhance patient care:

Puritan 6 Foam Tip Polystyrene Wound Measuring Device (DM Stick)-1

Both DM sticks are meticulously calibrated to deliver reliable measurements, which are vital for assessing wound healing and determining appropriate treatment plans. Additionally, they are designed with you in mind – they enhance the user experience. Our DM sticks ensure smooth and efficient wound measurement, facilitating better patient care and workflow efficiency.

If you have questions about wound measurement or the products listed above, get in touch with our team. We are happy to help! 

How to Measure a Wound Guide CTA

Topics: Medical


How To Videos

Visit our training center, where you can view videos on a range of applications from food safety to microbiology.


Resource Library

We've compiled our content in a handy library so you can find all our best resources in one place.

Resource Library

Find a Distributor

Using our distributor chart, you can see a list of distributors where you can buy our products.

Where to Buy

Recent Posts


The information on this document and/or our website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this document and/or our website is for general information purposes only. Please consult with a licensed medical professional regarding the application of products.

Posts Archive

More Archives


Stay informed about industry news, current events, and the unique properties of Puritan's wide range of products that set them apart from the rest.

puritan footer logoCopyright © 2024 Puritan Medical Products. All rights reserved.Proudly Made in the USA