Nurses are the linchpin of proper healthcare service delivery. They are trained to adapt, assess, and swiftly respond to situations. This makes their role in improving the wellbeing of patients with critical illnesses and rapidly changing health conditions vital.
Their contribution to caring for patients is indispensable, encouraging us to explore their strategies in delicate situations involving patients with critical illnesses or rapidly changing health conditions. These strategies consist of many skills, ranging from proper monitoring and assessment to rapid response, providing psychological and emotional support, and effective communication. We look into these and other strategies below.
Strategies nurses employ to care for complex patients
Undoubtedly, seeking preventive care services is the best way for one to care for their health. However, if a patient misses this, getting proper management care for their condition is the next best approach. Institutions such as the University of Indianapolis offer an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) where students have the opportunity to improve their skills and gain experience with hands on work with the placement team. Professional nurses with recognized degrees, such as the online accelerated BSN, from prestigious institutions are experienced in managing rapidly changing health conditions and critical illnesses. Here are the strategies they employ:
Assessment and monitoring
Proper assessment and monitoring is critical to effectively caring for patients with critical conditions. The assessment must be continuous and accurate, ensuring patients are well cared for, according to their needs. Trained nurses routinely check and document patients’ vital signs, like heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. Doing this enables them to track trends and detect sudden changes.
Nurses also pay close attention to patients’ physical and psychological symptoms to gauge their condition accurately and administer the proper care their situations require. They do this by inquiring about pain levels and checking for discomfort, nausea, shortness of breath, and other visible signs indicating changes in a patient’s health condition. Technological advancement has made this more accessible, with bedside monitors and electronic health records (EHRs) enhancing the collection and access to patients’ real-time data efficiently.
Such technologies allow nurses to access patients’ medical histories, diagnostic results, and treatment plans to make informed decisions about a patient’s rapidly changing health condition. Leveraging technology also helps nurses identify early warning signs of deteriorating conditions or subtle changes like a drop in blood pressure or increased heart rate, allowing nurses to take proactive measures to contain the situation. This measure may include notifying the healthcare team on time or introducing additional assessments to prevent a critical event.
Communication and collaboration
Ensuring effective nurse-patient communication is another efficient method nurses leverage to improve patient care quality for individuals with rapidly changing health conditions or critical illnesses. Building strong rapport with patients is crucial for effective care, and nurses ensure this by creating a trusting environment where the patients feel safe and secure.
They achieve this by taking a friendship approach, which includes introducing themselves politely, using receptive body language, and actively listening to patients’ concerns. Professionally trained nurses give patients full attention, asking clarifying questions and validating their feelings — doing so gives them a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s needs. It equally allows the patient to be expressive, truthful, and collaborative.
Communication is also vital among healthcare professionals as it aids collaboration, allowing them to manage delicate situations involving rapidly changing health conditions effectively. The nurses work closely with physicians, specialists, therapists, or other essential team members to provide timely and effective management care.
Effective communication ensures that nurses and other team members caring for complex patients are on the same page regarding patients’ conditions and treatment plans. Promptly sharing critical information has been an effective strategy nurses employ to care for complex patients as it ensures quicker interventions and improved outcomes.
Effective medication management
Nurses caring for patients with rapidly changing health conditions or critical illnesses treat administering medications and carrying out routine management care with utmost importance. They ensure medications are safely and accurately administered following the five rights of medication. Following the rights requires meticulousness and great attention to detail. Thus, professional nurses permanently eliminate distractions and double-check medication orders before administering anything to complex patients. They verify allergies and monitor reactions to ensure effective medication management.
When a patient with a critical illness or rapidly changing health condition requires intravenous (IV) therapy, skilled nurses ensure that IV lines are appropriately inserted, maintained, and monitored to prevent infection, infiltration, or other complications. The same goes for patients who need infusion pumps to get medication and fluids at recommended rates. The nurses set up the pumps and monitor them to prevent over-infusion, which may further complicate the patient’s condition.
Proper medication management has always been an effective strategy affecting patient improvement or treatment response. Nurses often work with pharmacists and physicians to review drug interactions in patients and adjust medication schedules as necessary. They pay attention to these reactions and report them promptly to the appropriate healthcare professional. Effective monitoring of these signs or reactions is crucial to improving complex patients’ conditions and preventing them from worsening.
Sensitizing patients with rapidly changing health conditions and critical illnesses
Counseling and teaching patients with critical illnesses or rapidly changing health conditions essential things they need to know about their case and how to relate to their healthcare providers is another effective strategy nurses employ. Some signs and changes in patients require immediate attention, and teaching the patients to know these signs is crucial to prompt response.
No matter how effective nurses’ assessments are, the patients are always the first to notice any changes in their health status. Hence, sensitizing them to be vigilant, expressive, and collaborative improves their disposition towards their healthcare and lessens the nurses’ burden. This allows nurses to care for these patients effectively. It is a primary strategy that makes other efforts towards adequate care provision for complex patients to bring desired outcomes.
Trained nurses reveal it is easier to care for patients with rapidly changing health conditions or critical illnesses when they have been properly identified and isolated. This allows them to get more attention, enabling nurses to monitor effectively and report any changes promptly. Identifying and isolating complex patients makes their treatment consistent and effective and eases the nurses’ workload. It is a working strategy that every healthcare organization employs and has consistently proven effective.
Classifying patients based on the severity of their condition has numerous advantages. It enables healthcare providers to prioritize patients based on the urgency of their needs. It allows for the efficient allocation of limited healthcare resources such as ICU beds, ventilators, and medications, ensuring severe cases get access to these critical resources first.
This strategy also guides treatment decisions. Mild cases may require less aggressive intervention, while severe cases usually require more intensive care and monitoring. Nurses and other healthcare providers employ this practice as it is vital for delivering effective and equitable healthcare, optimizing resource utilization, and improving patient outcomes.
Rapid response and critical care
Nurses put this strategy in place in case there is a need to escalate care. They are trained to identify and recognize signs of clinical deterioration and when to call for rapid response. This means that when nurses notice these signs during active monitoring or assessments, they involve the rapid response team promptly or notify the physician in charge of concerns about changes in the patient’s condition. Timely recognition of critical situations is only beneficial when there is immediate intervention, and this strategy ensures it.
Also, in code situations like cardiac arrest, nurses play a pivotal role in initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), administering medications like epinephrine, and coordinating efforts with the code team. They make themselves an essential part of the critical care and response team, maintaining calm under pressure and following crucial established protocols during these high-stress situations. Being skilled and well-trained in emergency response and critical care is an advantage most nurses leverage when caring for patients with rapidly changing health conditions or critical illnesses.
Skills advancement and additional certifications
Personal improvement is another effective strategy most nurses employ to care for complex patients properly. Nursing is a dynamic field, and there are opportunities for continuous advancement. Committed nurses ensure they stay informed about the latest research, treatments, and technologies through ongoing education, conferences, and professional development opportunities. They ensure they have the latest knowledge and skills to provide high-quality patient care.
For example, nurses in the critical units often undergo specialized training to enhance their competence in managing rapidly changing health conditions. They get certified in techniques like advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) and pediatric advanced life support (PALS), critical care nursing certification, and proficiency in using advanced equipment. Skills advancement ensures that nurses are fit to handle critical situations and adapt to new protocols and technologies.
Investing in skill advancement and additional certifications is a strategy that is equally beneficial to the nurses and the patients they care for. It improves the nurses’ capacity and capability while ensuring patients with critical illnesses or rapidly changing health conditions get the best care.
Provision of emotional and psychological support
Beyond medication management, effective assessment and monitoring, identification and isolation, and other essential strategies providing emotional and psychological support is another strategy nurses employ to care for complex patients. Nurses are frontline caregivers, and they witness the fear and anxiety that patients and their families experience during critical illness. Hence, they provide emotional support by offering reassurance, answering questions, and explaining procedures compassionately.
Additionally, nurses help patients and families cope with uncertainty and the emotional stress resulting from the patient’s diagnosis. They often refer them to social workers or counselors if necessary. Nurses strive to understand and connect with their patients emotionally, showing genuine concern for their wellbeing. They create a therapeutic environment where patients feel heard and valued, positively impacting the healing process.
Nurses also act as a bridge, connecting patients and families with resources for coping and mental health support. They provide information about support groups, counseling services, or community organizations that can assist in the emotional recovery process if necessary. Recognizing the psychological impact of critical illness and facilitating access to appropriate resources is an integral part of holistic patient care. It is a strategy nurses employ to ensure all-round satisfaction when caring for patients with rapidly changing health conditions or critical illnesses.
Evaluating case studies or similar previous cases
Budding nurses handling patients with rapidly changing health conditions or critical illnesses often go back to accounts of similar cases, analyzing successful patient outcomes and the role of nursing care in achieving such outcomes. This helps them identify best practices and lessons to emulate to achieve similar results. This act is mainly called ‘the referencing strategy,’ and it has proven to work in most cases. Combining advanced knowledge and effective old practices often brings excellent outcomes, allowing nursing care to impact patients’ health improvement significantly.
Possible drawback of the common strategies
Patients that fail to get adequate preventive care do not have to lose hope, as most of the strategies employed by nurses highlighted above have been proven beyond doubt to be effective in managing critical conditions. However, they are not without fail. The common cause of any drawback in these strategies is the incompetence or lack of professionalism of the nurses involved.
Not being dedicated and carrying out assigned roles effectively can render these strategies useless. Thus, nurses must always strive to maintain the six (6) Cs of nursing, which are care, compassion, competence, communication, courage, and commitment. By doing these, the highlighted strategies can work effectively in managing and improving complex patients’ health conditions.
Proper management of care improves everything
Rapidly changing health conditions of critical illnesses diagnosis is not the end. Patients and their families can still live a fun, loving, and fulfilled life after discovering the situation. This is possible with adequate efforts from nurses in charge. The nurse can employ some strategies to ensure this, such as providing psychological and emotional support, dutifully monitoring and assessing the patient, effectively managing the patient’s medication, and building strong nurse-patient communication.