MI Peer Response due 1-11-23

MI Peer Response due 1-11-23

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Instructions:

400 words for each2 peer response total of 800 words.

Look at your course colleagues’ responses. 

· From your advanced practice mindset reflect on a discussion you would like to have with two of your course colleagues about their responses.

· Post a response individually to each of them that expresses your advanced practice nursing role perspective of the data represented in their response.

· In each response add statistical data regarding MI to include population group impacted, preventative measures to include primary secondary and tertiary prevention for MI. Include at least 4 new references.

Use scholarly resources relevant to your advanced practice nursing role to support the key elements of the peer discussions you construct. [For example – if you are a nurse educator (clinical or academic) what are your thoughts about their ability to follow task instructions for constructing the assignment, etc.?; if you a nurse leader what are your thoughts about the success of their application of a process improvement model, etc.?; if you are a nurse practitioner what are your observations about the non-conventional modality presented in the schemata, can you locate any evidence or the foundational basic sciences that support the modality, etc?

Please be sure to validate your opinions and ideas with citations and references in APA format.

1. Peers posting

Unit 1 Discussion – Initial post

Case Study:  Mr. T is at higher risk for cardiac disease. He presents with a BMI of 38.4, elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of early age heart attack and stroke, hypertension, and is African American. African Americans suffer from cardiac diseases greater than any other ethnicity (American Heart Association, 2023). Also of note is his position as a corporate manager, which may be associated with higher stress levels which have been shown to impact heart health negatively (American Heart Association, 2020). Mr. T also drinks alcohol but does not indicate quantity.

Explain the progressive pathophysiologic relationship between an MI and the development of left ventricular (LV) failure.

A myocardial infarction (MI) occurs when the oxygen supply to the heart tissue is insufficient due to compromised circulation related to sclerotic vessels, clots, or significant blood loss (McCance & Huether, 2019). When heart tissue is damaged following an MI, the structure of the heart can be altered with scar tissue or necrosis, affecting the contractility of the heart and its ability to pump blood to the body. The left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the pulmonary veins and pumps that blood out to the arteries. When the left ventricle cannot pump efficiently, blood begins to back up in the pulmonary vessels leading to fluid build-up in the lungs that manifests as shortness of breath and crackles in the lung bases on auscultation.

What factors affect the severity of LV failure?

Several factors can contribute to the severity of left heart failure. Initially, severity is determined by the extent of damage to the heart. The more extensive the damage to the cardiac tissue, the less productive the heart will be. The presence of coronary artery disease and hypertension can increase severity as well as comorbidities like diabetes and lung and kidney disease (McCance & Huether, 2019). When perfusion pressure decreases, the kidneys respond through the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which causes increases in blood volume and vasoconstriction, ultimately increasing the workload on the heart and exacerbating heart failure (McCance & Huether, 2019). Other important considerations are age, obesity, and lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor diet, and alcohol consumption (McCance & Huether, 2019). Chronic alcohol consumption has been shown to hasten atherosclerosis and increase blood pressure, increasing workload and adding resistance that the heart must pump against (Fernández-Solà, 2020).

Document the manifestations and management of clients with deep vein thrombosis.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that can happen to anyone (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2022). The most common symptoms of DVT are pain, swelling, tenderness, redness, and warmth, most often in the lower leg and pelvis; however, it should be noted that half of all cases are symptomatic (CDC, 2022). Acute treatment of DVT involves the use of anticoagulants such as Heparin or Warfarin and the use of a compression stocking during the day for at least two years (NHS Inform, 2022). Prevention is key, though, and patients should be educated on the importance of physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding sitting for long periods, and wearing loose-fitting clothing (CDC, 2022).

Submit a summary of some of the things you learned from this video. 

The video reviewed the common pathologies of the cardiovascular system and areas to focus on, such as understanding hypertension, primary and secondary, and how it affects functioning and causes and exacerbates conditions like congestive heart failure.

Reference

s

American Heart Association. (2023). African Americans and heart disease, stroke. 

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/african-americans-and-heart-disease-stroke
Links to an external site.

American Heart Association. (2020, February 4). Chronic stress can cause heart trouble. 

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/02/04/chronic-stress-can-cause-heart-trouble#:~:text=Stress%20may%20lead%20to%20high,cardiovascular%20events%2C%22%20Schiffrin%20said.
Links to an external site.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 14). What is venous thromboembolism? 

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/facts.html
Links to an external site.

Fernández-Solà, J. (2020). The effects of ethanol on the heart: Alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Nutrients, 12(2), 572. 

https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020572
Links to an external site.

McCance, K., & Huether, S. (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (8th ed.). Elsevier. 

https://ambassadored.vitalsource.com/books/9780323583473
Links to an external site.

Zhan, C., Shi, M., Wu, R., He, H., Liu, X., & Shen, B. (2019). Mirkb: A myocardial infarction risk knowledge base. Database, 2019. 

https://doi.org/10.1093/database/baz125

2. Peers posting

Case study 1 Discussion – Myocardial Infarction   

Explain the progressive pathophysiologic relationship between an MI and the development of left ventricular (LV) failure.

To better understand and explain the progressive pathophysiologic relationship between an MI and the development of left ventricular failure, we must first speak about the pathophysiology of a myocardial infarction which is also more commonly known to the public as a heart attack.

A myocardial infarction occurs when “a pathophysiologic continuum impairs the pumping ability of the heart by depriving the heart muscle of blood-borne oxygen and nutrients.” (McCance & Huether, 2019) therefore a portion of the heart muscle dies because the blocked artery stops oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart muscle, leading to cell death. Depending on the severity and the duration of those muscles being deprived of blood, the consequences of a MI can be devastating as it can weaken the heart muscle, and this is how it can lead to the development of left ventricular (LV) failure. It is important to remind that the left ventricle is the main pumping chamber of the heart, if the muscle has been weakened due to a MI, the left ventricle will then be unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. If left untreated, the left ventricle will start to hypertrophy because it will “serve as a compensatory mechanism and can help maintain cardiac output, but long-term can inhibit relaxation of the myocardium leading to impaired cardiac filling and decrease left ventricular output.” (Chaine & Alvey, 2022).

What factors affect the severity of LV failure?

Several factors can affect the severity of left ventricular (LV) failure, first as expressed previously the severity of the MI is a major factor as a larger MI is more likely to cause more damage to the heart muscle, leading to more severe LV failure. Factors may also vary depending on individuals, for example, hypertension management is one of the most important factors in the severity of the development of LV failure, as “it contributes to endothelial injury, a key step in atherogenesis and causes myocardial hypertrophy, which increases myocardial demand for coronary flow.” (McCance & Huether, 2019). Individuals that might be non-compliant with their blood pressure medications may also be at higher risk of developing severe LV failure. Like most heart conditions, there are modifiable factors that can be changed to minimize risks such as dieting, exercising, etc. However, old age and genetics can play a role in the development of severe failure LV failure as well.

Document the manifestations and management of clients with deep vein thrombosis.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein, most commonly in the leg area, however, it can also develop in the arms (CDC, 2022). As nurses, we strive to recognize DVT with the following symptoms: the affected leg becomes swollen due to the accumulation of fluid caused by the clot-blocking flow. Patients experience pain in the leg, especially upon movement of the leg. Redness and warmth are also important signs of a DVT as the skin on the affected leg may become red or discolored and may feel warm to the touch due to increased blood flow to the area (CDC, 2022). It is important to also mention that about half of patients with DVT do not show any signs or symptoms (CDC, 2022). 

Management of patients with DVT is very important because “chronic venous insufficiency, post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) and pulmonary embolism (PE) are the main complications of DVT” (El-Menyar et.al, 2017).  Anticoagulation medications and compression stockings are the first lines of treatment for DVT.

Submit a summary of some of the things you learned from this video. 

The video highlighted different cardiac functions and conditions and their management, such as hypertension and its role in how it affects cardiac function in general. It also explained the main difference between primary and secondary hypertension. The video was very informative and a great alternative to learning about different cardiac conditions rather than trying to read a book.

Reference

Chahine, J., & Alvey, H. (2022, January). Left ventricular failure – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537098/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 9). What is venous thromboembolism? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/facts.html
Links to an external site.

El-Menyar, A., Asim, M., Jabbour, G., & Al-Thani, H. (2017). Clinical implications of the anatomical variation of deep venous thrombosis. Phlebology: The Journal of Venous Disease, 33(2), 97–106. 

https://doi.org/10.1177/0268355516687863
Links to an external site.

 Links to an external site.

McCance, K., & Huether, S. (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (8th ed.). Elsevier.  

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING I

RN Adult Medical Surgical Nursing
REVIEW MODULE EDITION 11.0

Contributors
Honey C. Holman, MSN, RN

Debborah Williams, MSN, RN

Sheryl Sommer, PhD, RN, CNE

Janean Johnson, MSN, RN, CNE

Brenda S. Ball, MEd, BSN, RN

LaKeisha Wheless, MSN, RN

Peggy Leehy, MSN, RN

Terri Lemon, DNP, MSN, RN

Consultants
Greta Lucinda Baldwin Mason, MSN, RN

Christi Blair, DNP, RN

Tracey Bousquet, BSN, RN

Valerie S. Eschiti, PhD, RN,
AHN-BC, CHTP, CTN-A

Penny Fauber, PhD, MS, BSN, RN

Sara Hoffmann, MSN, RN

Tomekia Luckett, PhD, RN

Donna Russo, RN, MSN, CCRN, CNE

Melanie P. Schrader, PhD, RN

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY NOTICE
ATI Nursing is a division of Assessment Technologies Institute®, LLC.

Copyright © 2019 Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC. All rights reserved.

The reproduction of this work in any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter

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graphics, and text, are subject to trademark, service mark, trade dress, copyright, and/or other intellectual

property rights or licenses held by Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC, one of its affiliates, or by

third parties who have licensed their materials to Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC.

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II CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO THE READER
Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC, is the publisher of this publication. The content of this publication is for

informational and educational purposes only and may be modified or updated by the publisher at any time. This

publication is not providing medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice,

diagnosis, or treatment. The publisher has designed this publication to provide accurate information regarding the

subject matter covered; however, the publisher is not responsible for errors, omissions, or for any outcomes related to

the use of the contents of this book and makes no guarantee and assumes no responsibility or liability for the use of the

products and procedures described or the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of stated information, opinions, or

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07/24/15 April 9, 2019 11:12 AM rm_rn_2019_ams_FRONT-MATTER

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING User’s GUide III

User’s Guide
Welcome to the Assessment Technologies Institute® RN
Adult Medical Surgical Nursing Review Module Edition
11.0. The mission of ATI’s Content Mastery Series® Review
Modules is to provide user-friendly compendiums of
nursing knowledge that will:

● Help you locate important information quickly.
● Assist in your learning efforts.
● Provide exercises for applying your nursing knowledge.
● Facilitate your entry into the nursing profession as a

newly licensed nurse.

This newest edition of the Review Modules has been
redesigned to optimize your learning experience. We’ve
fit more content into less space and have done so in a
way that will make it even easier for you to find and
understand the information you need.

ORGANIZATION
This Review Module is organized into units covering the
foundations of nursing care (Unit 1), body systems and
physiological processes (Units 2 to 13), and perioperative
nursing care (Unit 14). Chapters within these units
conform to one of three organizing principles for
presenting the content.

● Nursing concepts
● Procedures
● System disorders

Nursing concepts chapters begin with an overview
describing the central concept and its relevance to nursing.
Subordinate themes are covered in outline form to
demonstrate relationships and present the information in
a clear, succinct manner.

Procedures chapters include an overview describing
the procedure(s) covered in the chapter. These
chapters provide nursing knowledge relevant to each
procedure, including indications, nursing considerations,
interpretation of findings, and complications.

System disorders chapters include an overview describing
the disorder(s) and/or disease process. These chapters
address assessments, including risk factors, expected
findings, laboratory tests, and diagnostic procedures.
Next, you will focus on patient-centered care, including
nursing care, medications, therapeutic procedures,
interprofessional care, and client education. Finally, you
will find complications related to the disorder, along with
nursing actions in response to those complications.

ACTIVE LEARNING SCENARIOS
AND APPLICATION EXERCISES

Each chapter includes opportunities for you to test your
knowledge and to practice applying that knowledge. Active
Learning Scenario exercises pose a nursing scenario
and then direct you to use an ATI Active Learning
Template (included at the back of this book) to record
the important knowledge a nurse should apply to the
scenario. An example is then provided to which you can
compare your completed Active Learning Template. The
Application Exercises include NCLEX-style questions, such
as multiple-choice and multiple-select items, providing
you with opportunities to practice answering the kinds of
questions you might expect to see on ATI assessments or
the NCLEX. After the Application Exercises, an answer key
is provided, along with rationales.

NCLEX® CONNECTIONS
To prepare for the NCLEX-RN, it is important to
understand how the content in this Review Module
is connected to the NCLEX-RN test plan. You can find
information on the detailed test plan at the National
Council of State Boards of Nursing’s website, www.ncsbn.
org. When reviewing content in this Review Module,
regularly ask yourself, “How does this content fit into
the test plan, and what types of questions related to this
content should I expect?”

To help you in this process, we’ve included NCLEX
Connections at the beginning of each unit and with each
question in the Application Exercises Answer Keys. The
NCLEX Connections at the beginning of each unit point
out areas of the detailed test plan that relate to the content
within that unit. The NCLEX Connections attached to the
Application Exercises Answer Keys demonstrate how each
exercise fits within the detailed content outline.
These NCLEX Connections will help you understand how
the detailed content outline is organized, starting with
major client needs categories and subcategories and
followed by related content areas and tasks. The major
client needs categories are:

● Safe and Effective Care Environment
◯ Management of Care
◯ Safety and Infection Control

● Health Promotion and Maintenance
● Psychosocial Integrity
● Physiological Integrity

◯ Basic Care and Comfort
◯ Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
◯ Reduction of Risk Potential
◯ Physiological Adaptation

An NCLEX Connection might, for example, alert you that
content within a unit is related to:

● Reduction of Risk Potential
◯ Diagnostic Tests

■ Monitor the results of diagnostic testing and
intervene as needed.

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IV User’s GUide CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

QSEN COMPETENCIES
As you use the Review Modules, you will note the
integration of the Quality and Safety Education for
Nurses (QSEN) competencies throughout the chapters.
These competencies are integral components of the
curriculum of many nursing programs in the United States
and prepare you to provide safe, high-quality care as a
newly licensed nurse. Icons appear to draw your attention
to the six QSEN competencies.

Safety: The minimization of risk factors that could
cause injury or harm while promoting quality care
and maintaining a secure environment for clients, self,
and others.

Patient-Centered Care: The provision of caring and
compassionate, culturally sensitive care that addresses
clients’ physiological, psychological, sociological, spiritual,
and cultural needs, preferences, and values.

Evidence-Based Practice: The use of current knowledge
from research and other credible sources, on which to base
clinical judgment and client care.

Informatics: The use of information technology as a
communication and information-gathering tool that
supports clinical decision-making and scientifically based
nursing practice.

Quality Improvement: Care related and organizational
processes that involve the development and
implementation of a plan to improve health care services
and better meet clients’ needs.

Teamwork and Collaboration: The delivery of client care
in partnership with multidisciplinary members of the
health care team to achieve continuity of care and positive
client outcomes.

ICONS
Icons are used throughout the Review Module to draw
your attention to particular areas. Keep an eye out for
these icons.

This icon is used for NCLEX Connections.

This icon indicates gerontological considerations,
or knowledge specific to the care of older
adult clients.

This icon is used for content related to safety
and is a QSEN competency. When you see this
icon, take note of safety concerns or steps that
nurses can take to ensure client safety and a
safe environment.

This icon is a QSEN competency that indicates
the importance of a holistic approach to
providing care.

This icon, a QSEN competency, points out the
integration of research into clinical practice.

This icon is a QSEN competency and highlights
the use of information technology to support
nursing practice.

This icon is used to focus on the QSEN
competency of integrating planning processes to
meet clients’ needs.

This icon highlights the QSEN competency of care
delivery using an interprofessional approach.

This icon appears at the top-right of pages
and indicates availability of an online media
supplement, such as a graphic, animation, or
video. If you have an electronic copy of the
Review Module, this icon will appear alongside
clickable links to media supplements. If you have
a hard copy version of the Review Module, visit
www.atitesting.com for details on how to access
these features.

FEEDBACK
ATI welcomes feedback regarding this Review Module.
Please provide comments to comments@atitesting.com.

As needed updates to the Review Modules are identified,
changes to the text are made for subsequent printings
of the book and for subsequent releases of the electronic
version. For the printed books, print runs are based
on when existing stock is depleted. For the electronic
versions, a number of factors influence the update
schedule. As such, ATI encourages faculty and students to
refer to the Review Module addendums for information on
what updates have been made. These addendums, which
are available in the Help/FAQs on the student site and the
Resources/eBooks & Active Learning on the faculty site,
are updated regularly and always include the most current
information on updates to the Review Modules.

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING TABLe OF CONTeNTs V

Table of Contents

NCLEX® Connections 1

UNIT 1 Foundations of Nursing Care for
Adult Clients 3

CHAPTER 1 Health, Wellness, and Illness 3

CHAPTER 2 Emergency Nursing Principles and Management 7

NCLEX® Connections 15

UNIT 2 Neurologic Disorders 17
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 17

CHAPTER 3 Neurologic Diagnostic Procedures 17

CHAPTER 4 Pain Management 25

SECTION: Central Nervous System Disorders 31

CHAPTER 5 Meningitis 31

CHAPTER 6 Seizures and Epilepsy 35

CHAPTER 7 Parkinson’s Disease 41

CHAPTER 8 Alzheimer’s Disease 47

CHAPTER 9 Brain Tumors 53

CHAPTER 10 Multiple Sclerosis 59

CHAPTER 11 Headaches 63

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VI TABLe OF CONTeNTs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

SECTION: Sensory Disorders 67

CHAPTER 12 Disorders of the Eye 67

CHAPTER 13 Middle and Inner Ear Disorders 73

SECTION: Neurologic Emergencies 81

CHAPTER 14 Head Injury 81

CHAPTER 15 Stroke 87

CHAPTER 16 Spinal Cord Injury 95

NCLEX® Connections 103

UNIT 3 Respiratory Disorders 105
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 105

CHAPTER 17 Respiratory Diagnostic Procedures 105

CHAPTER 18 Chest Tube Insertion and Monitoring 111

CHAPTER 19 Respiratory Management and Mechanical Ventilation 115

SECTION: Respiratory System Disorders 125

CHAPTER 20 Acute Respiratory Disorders 125

CHAPTER 21 Asthma 133

CHAPTER 22 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 137

CHAPTER 23 Tuberculosis 143

SECTION: Respiratory Emergencies 149

CHAPTER 24 Pulmonary Embolism 149

CHAPTER 25 Pneumothorax, Hemothorax, and Flail Chest 155

CHAPTER 26 Respiratory Failure 161

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING TABLe OF CONTeNTs VII

NCLEX® Connections 167

UNIT 4 Cardiovascular Disorders 169
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 169

CHAPTER 27 Cardiovascular Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 169

CHAPTER 28 Electrocardiography and Dysrhythmia Monitoring 179

CHAPTER 29 Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter/Defibrillators 185

CHAPTER 30 Invasive Cardiovascular Procedures 191

SECTION: Cardiac Disorders 199

CHAPTER 31 Angina and Myocardial Infarction 199

CHAPTER 32 Heart Failure and Pulmonary Edema 205

CHAPTER 33 Valvular Heart Disease 213

CHAPTER 34 Inflammatory Disorders 219

SECTION: Vascular Disorders 223

CHAPTER 35 Peripheral Vascular Diseases 223

CHAPTER 36 Hypertension 233

CHAPTER 37 Hemodynamic Shock 239

CHAPTER 38 Aneurysms 247

NCLEX® Connections 253

UNIT 5 Hematologic Disorders 255
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 255

CHAPTER 39 Hematologic Diagnostic Procedures 255

CHAPTER 40 Blood and Blood Product Transfusions 259

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VIII TABLe OF CONTeNTs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

SECTION: Hematologic Disorders 265

CHAPTER 41 Anemias 265

CHAPTER 42 Coagulation Disorders 271

NCLEX® Connections 275

UNIT 6 Fluid/Electrolyte/Acid‑Base Imbalances 277
CHAPTER 43 Fluid Imbalances 277

CHAPTER 44 Electrolyte Imbalances 283

Sodium imbalances 283

Potassium imbalances 285

Other electrolyte imbalances 288

CHAPTER 45 Acid‑Base Imbalances 293

NCLEX® Connections 299

UNIT 7 Gastrointestinal Disorders 301
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 301

CHAPTER 46 Gastrointestinal Diagnostic Procedures 301

CHAPTER 47 Gastrointestinal Therapeutic Procedures 309

SECTION: Upper Gastrointestinal Disorders 319

CHAPTER 48 Esophageal Disorders 319

CHAPTER 49 Peptic Ulcer Disease 327

CHAPTER 50 Acute and Chronic Gastritis 333

SECTION: Lower Gastrointestinal Disorders 339

CHAPTER 51 Noninflammatory Bowel Disorders 339

CHAPTER 52 Inflammatory Bowel Disease 347

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING TABLe OF CONTeNTs IX

SECTION: Gallbladder and Pancreas Disorders 355

CHAPTER 53 Cholecystitis and Cholelithiasis 355

CHAPTER 54 Pancreatitis 359

SECTION: Liver Disorders 365

CHAPTER 55 Hepatitis and Cirrhosis 365

NCLEX® Connections 373

UNIT 8 Renal Disorders 375
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 375

CHAPTER 56 Renal Diagnostic Procedures 375

CHAPTER 57 Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis 379

CHAPTER 58 Kidney Transplant 385

SECTION: Renal System Disorders 391

CHAPTER 59 Polycystic Kidney Disease, Acute Kidney Injury, and Chronic Kidney Disease 391

CHAPTER 60 Infections of the Renal and Urinary System 399

CHAPTER 61 Renal Calculi 407

NCLEX® Connections 413

UNIT 9 Reproductive Disorders 415
SECTION: Female Reproductive Disorders 415

CHAPTER 62 Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures for Female Reproductive Disorders 415

CHAPTER 63 Female Physiologic Processes 423

CHAPTER 64 Disorders of Female Reproductive Tissue 429

SECTION: Male Reproductive Disorders 435

CHAPTER 65 Diagnostic Procedures for Male Reproductive Disorders 435

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X TABLe OF CONTeNTs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CHAPTER 66 Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Erectile Dysfunction, and Prostatitis 439

NCLEX® Connections 445

UNIT 10 Musculoskeletal Disorders 447
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 447

CHAPTER 67 Musculoskeletal Diagnostic Procedures 447

CHAPTER 68 Arthroplasty 453

CHAPTER 69 Amputations 459

SECTION: Musculoskeletal Disorders 463

CHAPTER 70 Osteoporosis 463

CHAPTER 71 Musculoskeletal Trauma 469

CHAPTER 72 Osteoarthritis and Low‑Back Pain 479

NCLEX® Connections 487

UNIT 11 Integumentary Disorders 489
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 489

CHAPTER 73 Integumentary Diagnostic Procedures 489

SECTION: Integumentary Disorders 493

CHAPTER 74 Skin Disorders 493

CHAPTER 75 Burns 499

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING TABLe OF CONTeNTs XI

NCLEX® Connections 509

UNIT 12 Endocrine Disorders 511
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 511

CHAPTER 76 Endocrine Diagnostic Procedures 511

SECTION: Pituitary Disorders 519

CHAPTER 77 Pituitary Disorders 519

SECTION: Thyroid Disorders 525

CHAPTER 78 Hyperthyroidism 525

CHAPTER 79 Hypothyroidism 531

SECTION: Adrenal Disorders 535

CHAPTER 80 Cushing’s Disease/Syndrome 535

CHAPTER 81 Addison’s Disease and Acute Adrenal Insufficiency (Addisonian Crisis) 541

SECTION: Diabetes Mellitus 545

CHAPTER 82 Diabetes Mellitus Management 545

CHAPTER 83 Complications of Diabetes Mellitus 555

NCLEX® Connections 559

UNIT 13 Immune System and
Connective Tissue Disorders 561
SECTION: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures 561

CHAPTER 84 Immune and Infectious Disorders Diagnostic Procedures 561

CHAPTER 85 Immunizations 565

SECTION: Immune Disorders 571

CHAPTER 86 HIV/AIDS 571

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XII TABLe OF CONTeNTs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

SECTION: Connective Tissue Disorders 577

CHAPTER 87 Lupus Erythematosus, Gout, and Fibromyalgia 577

CHAPTER 88 Rheumatoid Arthritis 585

SECTION: Cancer‑Related Disorders 591

CHAPTER 89 General Principles of Cancer 591

CHAPTER 90 Cancer Screening and Diagnostic Procedures 597

CHAPTER 91 Cancer Treatment Options 601

CHAPTER 92 Cancer Disorders 611

CHAPTER 93 Pain Management for Clients Who Have Cancer 645

NCLEX® Connections 651

UNIT 14 Nursing Care of Perioperative Clients 653
CHAPTER 94 Anesthesia and Moderate Sedation 653

Anesthesia 653

Moderate sedation 656

CHAPTER 95 Preoperative Nursing Care 659

CHAPTER 96 Postoperative Nursing Care 665

Active Learning Templates A1
Basic Concept A1

Diagnostic Procedure A3

Growth and Development A5

Medication A7

Nursing Skill A9

System Disorder A11

Therapeutic Procedure A13

Concept Analysis A15

07/24/15 April 9, 2019 11:12 AM rm_rn_2019_ams_unit1

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING NCLeX® CONNeCTiONs 1

NCLEX® Connections

When reviewing the following chapters, keep in mind the
relevant topics and tasks of the NCLEX outline, in particular:

Health Promotion and Maintenance
HEALTH PROMOTION/DISEASE PREVENTION
Identify risk factors for disease/illness.

Educate the client on actions to promote/
maintain health and prevent disease.

HEALTH SCREENING: Apply knowledge of
pathophysiology to health screening.

Physiological Adaptation
HEMODYNAMICS: Intervene to improve
the client’s cardiovascular status.

ILLNESS MANAGEMENT: Educate client about managing illness.

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES: Apply knowledge of pathophysiology
when caring for a client experiencing a medical emergency.

07/24/15 April 9, 2019 11:12 AM rm_rn_2019_ams_unit1

2 NCLeX® CONNeCTiONs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 1 HeALTH, WeLLNess, ANd iLLNess 3

UNIT 1 FOUNDATIONS OF NURSING
CARE FOR ADULT CLIENTS

CHAPTER 1 Health, Wellness,
and Illness

Health and wellness combine to form a state
of optimal physical functioning and a feeling
of emotional and social contentment. Wellness
involves the ability to adapt emotionally
and physically to a changing state of health
and environment.

illness is an altered level of functioning in
response to a disease process. disease is
a condition that results in the physiological
alteration in the composition of the body.

Nurses must understand the variables affecting
health, wellness, and illness, and how they relate
to clients’ individual perceptions of health needs.

Health and wellness
The level of health and wellness is unique to each
individual and relative to the individual’s usual state of
functioning. For example, a person who has rheumatoid
arthritis, a strong support system, and positive outlook
might consider himself healthy while functioning at an
optimal level with minimal pain.

VARIABLES
● Modifiable: Can be changed, such as smoking,

nutrition, access to health education, sexual practices,
and exercise

● Non-modifiable: Cannot be changed, such as sex, age,
developmental level, and genetic traits

ASPECTS OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS
● Physical: Able to perform activities of daily living
● Emotional: Adapts to stress; expresses and

identifies emotions
● Social: Interacts successfully with others
● Intellectual: Effectively learns and disseminates

information
● Spiritual: Adopts a belief that provides meaning to life
● Occupational: Balances occupational activities with

leisure time
● Environmental: Creates measures to improve standards

of living and quality of life

ENVIRONMENT
● A client’s state of health and wellness is constantly

changing and adapting to a continually fluctuating
external and internal environment.

● THE EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT
◯ Social: Crime vs. safety, poverty vs. prosperity, peace
vs. social unrest, and presence vs. absence of support
from social networks

◯ Physical: Access to health care, sanitation, availability
of clean water, and geographic location

● THE INTERNAL ENVIRONMENT includes cumulative
life experiences, cultural and spiritual beliefs, age,
developmental stage, gender, emotional factors, and
perception of physical functioning.

DESIRED OUTCOMES
● Desired outcomes are to obtain and maintain optimal

state of wellness and function through access to
and use of health promotion, wellness, and illness
prevention strategies.

● Health and wellness can be achieved through health
education and positive action (stress management,
smoking cessation, weight loss, immunizations, seeking
health care).

ILLNESS‑WELLNESS CONTINUUM
The Illness-Wellness Continuum is an assessment tool
used to measure the level of wellness to premature death.

● It can be useful as an assessment guide or tool to set
goals and find ways to improve a client’s state of health
or to have the client return to a previous state of health,
which can include an illness within optimal wellness.
The health care professional can assist the client to see
where he is at on the continuum and seek ways to move
toward optimal wellness.

● At the center of the continuum is the client’s normal
state of health.

● The range of wellness to illness runs from optimal
wellness to severe illness.

● The degree of wellness is relative to the usual state of
wellness for a client and is achieved through awareness,
education, and personal growth.

Illness
● Illness is the impairment of a client’s physical, social,

emotional, spiritual, developmental, or intellectual
functioning.

● Illness encompasses the effects of a disease on a client.
However, illness and disease are not synonymous.

Response to illness can be influenced by:
● Degree of physical changes as a result of a

disease process.
● Perceptions by self and others of the illness, which can

be influenced by various reliable and unreliable sources
of information (friends, magazines, TV, internet).

● Cultural values and beliefs.
● Denial or fear of illness.
● Social demands, time constraints, economic resources,

and health care access.

CHAPTER 1

4 CHAPTER 1 HeALTH, WeLLNess, ANd iLLNess CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

Use health education and awareness to reduce risk factors
and promote health care.

HeALTH/WeLLNess AssessMeNT
● Physical assessment
● Evaluating health perceptions
● Identifying risks to health/wellness
● Identifying access to health care

Identifying obstacles to compliance and adherence:
● Perceptions of illness: awareness of the severity of

the illness
● Confidence in the provider
● Belief in the prescribed therapy

◯ A client who has had a negative experience with
the health care system might not trust the provider
and might not follow the advice or comply with the
treatment prescribed.

◯ Cultural or religious beliefs might not align with the
prescribed treatment.

● Availability of support systems
● Family role and function: One family member might be

the family caregiver but neglect caring for herself.
● Financial restrictions that can lead to prioritized

health care
◯ Prescription medication costs
◯ A parent might seek medical care for children, but not
for herself

NUrsiNG CAre
Evaluate the health needs of a client and create strategies
to meet those needs.

iNTerVeNTiONs
● Provide resources to strengthen coping abilities.
● Identify and encourage use of support systems during

times of illness and stress.
● Identify obstacles to health and wellness and create

strategies to reduce these obstacles.
● Identify ways to reduce health risks and

improve compliance.
● Develop health education methods to improve health

awareness and reduce health risks.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who has a new
diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus and reports
difficulty following the diet and remembering
to take the prescribed medication. Which of the
following actions should the nurse take to promote
client compliance? (select all that apply.)

A. Ask the dietitian to assist with meal planning.

B. Contact the client’s support system.

C. Assess for age‑related cognitive awareness.

d. encourage the use of a daily medication dispenser.

e. Provide educational materials for home use.

2. A nurse in a health care clinic is evaluating the level of
wellness for clients using the illness‑wellness continuum
tool. The nurse should identify which of the following
clients as being at the center of the continuum?

A. A college student who has influenza

B. An older adult who has a new diagnosis
of type 2 diabetes mellitus

C. A new mother who has a urinary tract infection

d. A young male client who has a long history
of well‑controlled rheumatoid arthritis

3. A nurse is evaluating clients at a health fair for
modifiable variables affecting health and wellness.
The nurse should identify which of the following
variables as modifiable? (select all that apply.)

A. smoking on social occasions

B. BMi of 28

C. Alopecia

d. Trisomy 21

e. History of reflux

4. A nurse is caring for a client who was just informed
of a new diagnosis of breast cancer. The nurse
evaluates the client’s response. Which of the
following statements by the client reflects a lack
of understanding of an illness perspective?

A. “i have no family history of breast cancer.”

B. “i need a second opinion. There is no lump.”

C. “i am glad we live in the city near
several large hospitals.”

d. “i will schedule surgery next
week, over the holidays.”

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse in a clinic is caring for a client who continues
to smoke despite numerous attempts to quit and
has a family history of cardiovascular disease. What
nursing interventions should the nurse use to meet the
health needs of this client? Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: Basic Concept to complete this item.

RELATED CONTENT: include one
statement identifying the goal.

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES: include one statement
regarding health promotion and disease prevention.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: include a minimum of four.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 1 HeALTH, WeLLNess, ANd iLLNess 5

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: The nurse provides resources to strengthen
coping abilities by asking the dietitian to assist the client with
meal planning. This will improve client compliance.

B. CORRECT: With the client’s consent, the nurse can
contact members of the client’s support system and
encourage the client to use this support during times
of illness and stress to improve compliance.

C. Assessing the client for age‑related cognitive
awareness is important but it is not an appropriate
intervention that enhances the client’s compliance.

d. CORRECT: The nurse encourages the use of a daily
medication dispenser to reduce health risks and
improve medication compliance by the client.

e. CORRECT: The nurse provides educational
materials to the client to improve health awareness
and reduce health risks after discharge.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

2. A. The client who has influenza is measured on the
continuum by the level of health to illness in
comparison to the norm for the client.

B. The client who is newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
mellitus is measured by the level of health to illness
in comparison to the norm for the client.

C. The client who has a urinary tract infection is measured
on the continuum by the level of health to illness
in comparison to the norm for the client.

d. CORRECT: The client who has well‑controlled rheumatoid
arthritis is measured at the center of the continuum,
which is the client’s normal state of health.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Developmental Stages and Transitions

3. A. CORRECT: The nurse identifies smoking as a
modifiable variable that a client can change. The nurse
should provide the client with educational materials
and information on smoking cessation.

B. CORRECT: The nurse identifies a BMi of 28 as a
modifiable variable that a client can change. The nurse
should provide the client with educational materials and
information on weight reduction and exercising.

C. The nurse identifies alopecia as a non‑modifiable
variable because alopecia is a genetic disorder.

d. The nurse identifies Trisomy 21 as a non‑modifiable
variable because Trisomy 21 is genetic in origin.

e. CORRECT: The nurse identifies reflux as a modifiable variable
that a client can change. The nurse should provide the client
with step‑by‑step educational information about treatment.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

4. A. The client’s lack of a family history of cancer can influence
the client’s response to the new diagnosis, but it does not
reflect a lack of understanding of an illness perspective.

B. CORRECT: The client’s statement of denial reflects a
lack of understanding of the illness perspective and can
influence the client’s acceptance of the diagnosis.

C. Access to health care resources can influence the client’s
response to the new diagnosis, but it does not reflect
a lack of understanding of an illness perspective.

d. Time constraints can influence a client’s response
to the diagnosis, but it does not reflect a lack of
understanding of an illness perspective.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Screening

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Basic Concept

RELATED CONTENT: identifying obstacles
for compliance and adherence

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES: Health promotion and
disease prevention are influenced by many factors that
a nurse should address for a client’s success.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● Provide the client with resources to strengthen coping abilities.
● encourage use of support systems (family, support group).
● identify ways to improve compliance.
● develop health education methods to reduce health risks.
● identify the client’s obstacles to health and wellness.
● Create strategies to reduce the client’s obstacles.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
High Risk Behaviors

6 CHAPTER 1 HeALTH, WeLLNess, ANd iLLNess CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 2 eMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNT 7

UNIT 1 FOUNDATIONS OF NURSING
CARE FOR ADULT CLIENTS

CHAPTER 2 Emergency Nursing
Principles and
Management

emergency nursing principles are the guidelines
that nurses follow to assess and manage
emergency situations for a client or multiple clients.

Nurses must have the ability to identify emergent
situations and rapidly assess and intervene
when life‑threatening conditions exist. emergent
conditions are common to all nursing environments.

emergency nursing principles: triage, primary
survey, the ABCde principle, poisoning, rapid
response team, cardiac emergency, and
postresuscitation.

emergency departments often implement the
five‑level system of triage: resuscitation (level
one), emergent (level two), urgent (level three),
less urgent (level four), and nonurgent (level five).
Time and experience are required for the nurse
to become an effective member of the triage
team. The nurse, provider, and other members
of the health care team work together in the
triage area to determine the needs of the client.

resuscitation triage requires immediate
treatment to prevent death.

Nonurgent is a non‑life‑threatening condition
requiring simple evaluation and care management.

PRIMARY SURVEY
● A primary survey is a rapid assessment of

life-threatening conditions.
● The primary survey should be completed systematically

so life-threatening conditions are not missed.
● Standard precautions—gloves, gowns, eye protection,

face masks, and shoe covers—must be worn to prevent
contamination with bodily fluids.

● The ABCDE principle guides the primary survey.

ABCDE PRINCIPLE

AirWAy/CerViCAL sPiNe
● This is the most important step in performing the

primary survey. If a patent airway is not established,
subsequent steps of the primary survey are futile. As a
result of hypoxia, brain injury or death will occur within
3 to 5 min if the airway is not patent.

● If a client is awake and responsive, the airway is open.
● If a client’s ability to maintain an airway is lost, it is

important to inspect for blood, broken teeth, vomitus,
or other foreign materials in the airway that can cause
an obstruction.

● If the client is unresponsive without suspicion of
trauma, the airway should be opened with a head-tilt/
chin-lift maneuver.

◯ Do NOT perform this technique on clients who have a
potential cervical spine injury.

◯ To perform the head-tilt/chin-lift maneuver, the nurse
should assume a position at the head of the client,
place one hand on his forehead, and place the other
hand underneath the client’s chin. His head should be
tilted while his chin is lifted upward and forward.
This maneuver lifts the tongue away from the
laryngopharynx and provides for a patent airway.

● If the client is unresponsive with suspicion of trauma,
the airway should be opened with a modified jaw
thrust maneuver.

◯ The nurse should assume a position at the head of
the client and place both hands on either side of the
client’s head. Locate the connection between the
maxilla and the mandible. Lift the jaw superiorly
while maintaining alignment of the cervical spine.

● Once the airway is opened, it should be inspected for
blood, broken teeth, vomitus, and secretions. If present,
obstructions should be cleared with suction or a
finger-sweep method if the object is clearly visible.

● The open airway can be maintained with
airway adjuncts, such as an oropharyngeal or
nasopharyngeal airway.

● A bag valve mask with a 100% oxygen source is
indicated for clients who need additional support during
resuscitation until an advanced airway is established.

● A nonrebreather mask with 100% oxygen source is
indicated for clients who are spontaneously breathing.

BreATHiNG
Once a patent airway is achieved, the nurse should assess
for the presence and effectiveness of breathing.

BREATHING ASSESSMENT
● Auscultation of breath sounds
● Observation of chest expansion and respiratory effort
● Notation of rate and depth of respirations
● Identification of chest trauma
● Assessment of tracheal position
● Assessment for jugular vein distention

If a client is not breathing or is breathing inadequately ,
manual ventilation should be performed by a bag valve
mask with supplemental oxygen or mouth-to-mask
ventilation until a bag valve mask can be obtained.

CHAPTER 2

8 CHAPTER 2 eMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNT CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CirCULATiON
● Once adequate ventilation is accomplished, circulation

is assessed.
● Nurses should assess heart rate, blood pressure,

peripheral pulses, and capillary refill for
adequate perfusion.

● Nurses should consider cardiac arrest, myocardial
dysfunction, and hemorrhage as precursors to shock and
leading to ineffective circulation.

● Shock can develop if circulation is compromised. Shock
is the body’s response to inadequate tissue perfusion
and oxygenation. It manifests with an increased heart
rate and hypotension and can result in tissue ischemia
and necrosis.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Interventions for restoring effective circulation:

◯ Perform CPR.
◯ Assess for external bleeding.
◯ Hemorrhage control: Apply direct pressure to visible,
significant external bleeding.

◯ Obtain IV access using large-bore IV catheters
inserted into the antecubital fossa of both arms,
unless there is obvious injury to the extremity.

◯ Infuse isotonic IV fluids such as lactated Ringer’s and
0.9% sodium chloride, and/or blood products.

● Interventions to alleviate shock
◯ Administer oxygen.
◯ Apply pressure to obvious bleeding.
◯ Elevate lower extremities to shunt blood to
vital organs.

◯ Administer IV fluids and blood products.
◯ Monitor vital signs.
◯ Remain with the client, and provide reassurance and
support for anxiety.

disABiLiTy
Disability is a quick assessment to determine the client’s
level of consciousness.

● The AVPU mnemonic is useful. (2.1)
● The Glasgow Coma Scale is another widely-used

method. (2.2)
● Neurologic assessment must be repeated at frequent

intervals to ensure immediate response to any change.

FrOsTBiTe
● Skin condition which occurs after prolonged exposure to

freezing temperatures.
● Extent of injury to exposed skin may not be evident

for at least 24 hr after injury and is categorized as
superficial (first degree), partial thickness (second
degree), or full thickness (third and fourth degree).

◯ 1st degree: Least severe form. Only superficial
layers of exposed skin are affected with hyperemia
and edema.

◯ 2nd degree: Blisters cover the exposed skin areas
causing necrotic tissue death and swelling.

◯ 3rd degree: Extensive edema and blisters to the
affected skin which does not blanch. Affected areas
will be treated by debridement of damaged tissue.

◯ 4th degree: The affected area completely lacks blood
supply and is considered full thickness necrosis of
skin with potential progression to gangrene. The
extent of the gangrene may require amputation of
affected areas.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Clients require rewarming. Bathing affected areas in

warm bath (104º to 108º F [40º to 42º C]) will improve
blood circulation and promote healing of damaged
tissue. This rewarming process can increase pain as
circulation improves to affected areas of skin.

● Administer tetanus toxoid IM vaccine to prevent
complications related to growth of tetanus in wounds.

eXPOsUre
● The nurse removes the client’s clothing for a complete

physical assessment. The nurse might need to cut off
the client’s clothing to accomplish this task.

● Clothing is always removed during a resuscitation
situation to assess for additional injuries or those
related to chemical and thermal burns involving
the clothing.

● The nurse should preserve items of evidence (clothing,
bullets, drugs, weapons).

● Hypothermia is a primary concern. Hypothermia occurs
when the client’s core temperature is 35° C (95° F) or less.

● Victims of trauma are at risk for hypothermia due to
exposure, unwarmed oxygen, and cold IV fluids.

● Hypothermia can lead to eventual coma, hypoxemia,
and acidosis.

2.1 AVPU mnemonic

A Alert
V Responsive to voice
P Responsive to pain
U Unresponsive

2.2 Glasgow Coma Scale

EYE‑OPENING
RESPONSE
spontaneous 4
To voice 3
To pain 2
None 1

VERBAL RESPONSE
Oriented 5
Confused 4
inappropriate words 3
incomprehensible sounds 2
None 1

MOTOR RESPONSE
Obeys commands 6
Localizes pain 5
Withdraws 4
Flexion 3
extension 2
None 1

A low score of 3 indicates a client who is totally unresponsive, and a high
score of 15 indicates a client who is within normal limits neurologically.

+ +

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 2 eMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNT 9

To prevent hypothermia:
● Remove wet clothing from the client.
● Cover the client with warm blankets.
● Increase the temperature of the room.
● Use a heat lamp to provide additional warmth.
● Infuse warmed IV fluids.

HeAT eXHAUsTiON
● Heat exhaustion occurs after prolonged exposure to

elevated temperatures and causes excessive diaphoresis
and tachycardia leading to dehydration.

● Clients must receive rapid treatment for the dehydration
and low sodium to prevent developing heat stroke.

HeAT sTrOKe
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and clients must
receive immediate treatment to prevent death.

MANIFESTATIONS
● Elevated temperature (greater than 40° C [104° F])
● Lack of perspiration
● Low blood pressure
● Increased heart rate
● Decreased urinary output
● Alterations in mental status
● Abnormal blood potassium or sodium levels

NURSING ACTIONS
● Priority is to assess using ABCDE.
● Administer oxygen as needed.
● Insert large-gauge IV catheter for rapid intravenous

administration of 0.9% sodium chloride.
● Client can require indwelling urinary catheter.
● Apply ice packs and cooling blankets.

To prevent hyperthermia
● Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
● Avoid excessive sun exposure.
● Stay indoors with fans or air conditioning when outside

temperatures are elevated.
● Limit consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
● Apply sunscreen of at least 30 SPF.
● If overheated, take a cool water shower or bath.

POisONiNG
Poisoning is exposure to a toxic agent.

● Medications, illicit drugs, ingestion of a toxic agent
● Environmental (pollutants, snake and spider bites)

Poisoning is considered a medical emergency and
requires rapid management therapy.

● Obtain a client history to identify the toxic agent.
● Implement supportive care.
● Determine type of poison.
● Prevent further absorption of the toxin.
● Extract or remove the poison.
● Administer antidotes when necessary.
● A snakebite from a venomous snake is a

medical emergency.
◯ Children ages 1 to 9 are at highest risk for snakebites.
◯ The nurse should be familiar with indigenous snakes
in the community.

◯ Generally, ice, tourniquets, heparin, and
corticosteroids are contraindicated in the first 6 to
8 hr after the bite.

◯ Antivenom based on the type and severity of a snake
bite is most effective if administered within 4 to 12 hr.

Interventions to manage the clinical status of the client
exposed to or who ingested a toxic agent:

● Provide measures for respiratory support (oxygen,
airway management, mechanical ventilation).

● Monitor compromised circulation (resulting from excess
perspiration, vomiting, diarrhea).

● Restore fluids with IV fluid therapy.
● Monitor blood pressure, cardiac monitoring, ECG.
● Assess for tissue edema every 15 to 30 min if bitten by a

snake or spider.
● Administer opioid medications for pain due to snake or

spider bite.
● Monitor ABGs, blood glucose levels, coagulation profile.
● For ingested poison, three procedures are available:

activated charcoal, gastric lavage (if done within 1 hr
of ingestion), and aspiration. Syrup of ipecac is no
longer recommended.

● Administer diazepam if seizures occur.
● Reverse heroin and other opiate toxicity with naloxone.
● Implement dialysis and an exchange blood transfusion

as a nonpharmacologic technique to remove
toxic agents.

2.3 Common causes
of pulseless
electrical activity

5 H’s
Hypovolemia
Hypoxia
Hydrogen ion
accumulation,
resulting in
acidosis
Hyperkalemia
or hypokalemia
Hypothermia

5 T’s
Toxins
(accidental or
deliberate drug
overdose)
Tamponade
(cardiac)
Tension
pneumothorax
Thrombosis
(coronary)
Thrombosis
(pulmonary)

2.4 Receptor sites and responses

Alpha1
Activation of receptors in arterioles of
skin, viscera and mucous membranes,
and veins lead to vasoconstriction

Beta1
Heart stimulation leads to increased
heart rate, increased myocardial
contractility, and increased
rate of conduction through the
atrioventricular (AV) node.
Activation of receptors in the kidney
leads to the release of renin.

Beta2
Bronchial stimulation leads
to bronchodilation.
Activation of receptors in uterine
smooth muscle causes relaxation.
Activation of receptors in the liver causes
a breakdown of glycogen into glucose.
skeletal muscle receptor activation
leads to muscle contraction,
which can lead to tremors.

Dopamine
Activation of receptors in the kidney
cause the renal blood vessels to dilate.

10 CHAPTER 2 eMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNT CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RAPID RESPONSE TEAM
● The team is a group of critical care experts (ICU nurse,

respiratory therapist, critical care provider,
hospitalist).

● Responds to an emergency call from nurses or family
members when a client exhibits indications of a
rapid decline.

● Provides early recognition and response before a
respiratory or cardiac arrest or stroke occurs.

● Policies and procedures are established in a health
care setting.

● Training for personnel is provided about criteria for
calling for assistance when a client’s condition changes
toward a crisis situation.

● SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment,
Recommendation) communication techniques are used
for contacting the team and documentation of event.

● Implement follow-up, education, and sharing of
information (debriefing) for participants after the call.

● Discuss information to identify system failures (not
recognizing a crisis, lack of adequate communication,
failure in the plan of care).

● Retrieve more information at www.ihi.org.

CARDIAC EMERGENCY
Cardiac arrest: the sudden cessation of cardiac function
caused most commonly by ventricular fibrillation or
ventricular asystole.

Ventricular fibrillation (VF): a fluttering of the ventricles
causing loss of consciousness, pulselessness, and no
breathing. This requires collaborative care to defibrillate
immediately using ACLS protocol.

Pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT): an irritable firing of
ectopic ventricular beats at a rate of 140 to 180/min. The client
over time will become unconscious and deteriorate into VF.

Ventricular asystole: a complete absence of electrical
activity and ventricular movement of the heart. The client
is in complete cardiac arrest and requires implementation
of BLS and ACLS protocol.

Pulseless electrical activity (PEA): a rhythm that appears
to have electrical activity but is not sufficient to stimulate
effective cardiac contractions and requires implementation
of BLS and ACLS protocol.

Emergency nurse certifications
● Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support

(ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) are
certifications required for nurses practicing in United
States emergency departments.

● BLS involves a hands-on approach for assessment
and management to restore airway, breathing,
and circulation.

● ACLS builds on the BLS assessment and management
skills to include advanced concepts.

◯ Cardiac monitoring for specific resuscitation rhythms
◯ Invasive airway management
◯ Electrical therapies (defibrillation or cardioversion)
◯ Obtaining IV access
◯ Administration of IV antidysrhythmic medications
◯ Management of the client postresuscitation

● PALS is built on the BLS protocol for neonatal and
pediatric assessment and management skills to include
advanced concepts for resuscitation of children.

● Certification courses are based on evidence-based
practice management theory, and the basic concepts and
techniques for cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR).

● Current BLS and ACLS guidelines are available from the
American Heart Association (AHA) at www.heart.org.

AHA ACLs PrOTOCOLs
VF or pulseless VT

● Initiate the CPR components of BLS.
● Defibrillate according to BLS guidelines.
● Establish IV access.
● Administer IV antidysrhythmic medications,

such as epinephrine or vasopressin, according to
ACLS guidelines.

● Consider the following medications:
◯ Amiodarone hydrochloride
◯ Lidocaine hydrochloride
◯ Magnesium sulfate

2.5 Food interactions

MAOIs promote the release of norepinephrine from
sympathetic nerves and thereby prolong and intensify the
effects of epinephrine and can cause hypertensive crisis.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: Avoid the use of
MAOis in clients who are receiving epinephrine.

Tricyclic antidepressants block the uptake of epinephrine,
which will prolong and intensify the effects of epinephrine.
NURSING INTERVENTIONS: Clients
taking these medications concurrently can
need a lower dose of epinephrine.

General anesthetics can cause the heart
to become hypersensitive to the effects of
epinephrine, which leads to dysrhythmias.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
Perform continuous eCG monitoring.
Notify the provider if the client experiences chest
pain, dysrhythmias, or an elevated heart rate.

Beta‑adrenergic blocking agents, such as
propranolol, block the action at beta receptors.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: Propranolol may
be used to treat chest pain, hypertension,
myocardial infarction, and dysrhythmias.

Diuretics promote the beneficial effect of dopamine.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: Monitor
for therapeutic effects.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 2 eMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNT 11

2.6 Emergency medications

RECEPTORS
PHARMACOLOGICAL
ACTION THERAPEUTIC USE ADVERSE EFFECTS NURSING ACTIONS

Epinephrine

Alpha1 Vasoconstriction

slows absorption of
local anesthetics
Manages superficial
bleeding
reduces congestion
of nasal mucosa
increases blood
pressure

Vasoconstriction
from activation of
alpha1 receptors in
the heart can lead to
hypertensive crisis.

Provide continuous cardiac monitoring.
report changes in vital
signs to the provider.

Beta1

increases heart rate
strengthens myocardial
contractility
increases rate of
conduction through
the AV node

Treatment of
AV block and
cardiac arrest

Beta1 receptor activation
in the heart can cause
dysrhythmias. Beta1
receptor activation also
increases the workload
of the heart and oxygen
demand, leading to the
development of angina.

Provide continuous cardiac monitoring.
Monitor closely for dysrhythmias,
change in heart rate, and chest pain.
Monitor for hyperglycemia in clients
who have diabetes mellitus.
Notify the provider if the client
experiences dysrhythmias, an
elevated heart rate, or chest
pain, and treat per protocol.Beta2 Bronchodilation Asthma

The activation of beta2
receptors in the liver
and skeletal muscles can
cause hyperglycemia
from the breakdown
of glycogen.

Dopamine

dopamine

Low dose – dopamine
(2 to 5 mcg/kg/min)
renal blood
vessel dilation

shock
Heart failure
Acute kidney injury

Beta1

Moderate dose
– dopamine
(5 to 10 mcg/kg/min)
renal blood
vessel dilation
increases:

● Heart rate
● Myocardial contractility
● rate of conduction
through the AV node

● Blood pressure

Beta1 receptor activation
in the heart can cause
dysrhythmias. Beta1
receptor activation also
increases the workload
of the heart and oxygen
demand, leading to the
development of angina.

Provide continuous cardiac monitoring.
Monitor closely for dysrhythmias,
change in heart rate, and chest pain.
Notify the provider of manifestations
of dysrhythmias, elevated heart rate,
and chest pain, and treat per protocol.
Monitor for urinary output
less than 30 mL/hr.
do not confuse dopamine
with dobutamine.

Beta1

Alpha1

High dose – dopamine
(greater than
10 mcg/kg/min)
renal blood vessel
vasoconstriction
increases:

● Heart rate
● Myocardial contractility
● rate of conduction
through the AV node

● Blood pressure
● Vasoconstriction

Necrosis can occur from
extravasation due to high
doses of dopamine.

infuse dopamine into the central
line. Monitor the iV site carefully.
discontinue the infusion at first
indication of irritation.

Dobutamine

Beta1

increases:
● Heart rate
● Myocardial contractility
● rate of conduction
through the AV node

Heart failure increased heart rate

Provide continuous cardiac monitoring.
report changes in vital
signs to the provider.
Monitor for urinary output
less than 30 mL/hr.
do not confuse dobutamine
with dopamine.

12 CHAPTER 2 eMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNT CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Pulseless electrical activity (PEA)
● Initiate the CPR components of BLS.
● If shockable rhythm, defibrillate according to

BLS guidelines.
● Establish IV access.
● Consider the most common causes. (2.3)
● Administer epinephrine 1 mg IV push every 3 to 5 min.
● Asystole

◯ Initiate the CPR components of BLS.
◯ Establish IV access.
◯ Give epinephrine 1 mg IV push every 3 to 5 min.
◯ Consider reversible causes.
◯ Asystole is often the final rhythm as the electrical
and mechanical activity of the heart has stopped.
The provider should consider ceasing resuscitation if
asystole persists.

POsTresUsCiTATiON
PHARMACOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT

● Medication therapy following a successful cardiac arrest
includes IV medications that cause a catecholamine
adrenergic agonist’s effect.

● Catecholamine adrenergic agonists cannot be taken by
the oral route, do not cross the blood-brain barrier, and
have a short duration of action.

● Medications include epinephrine, dopamine,
and dobutamine.

● These medications respond to an identifiable receptor
and produce specific effects.

CONTRAINDICATIONS/PRECAUTIONS
● Pregnancy Risk Category C: epinephrine, dopamine,

dobutamine.
● These medications are contraindicated in clients who

have tachydysrhythmias and ventricular fibrillation.
● Use cautiously in clients who have hyperthyroidism,

angina, history of myocardial infarction, hypertension,
and diabetes mellitus.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer medications by continuous IV infusion.
● Use IV pump to control infusion.
● Titrate dosage based on blood pressure response and/or

heart rate response. (These medications affect heart rate
and blood pressure.)

● Stop the infusion at the first indication of infiltration.
Extravasation can be treated with a local injection of an
alpha-adrenergic blocking agent, such as phentolamine.

● Assess/monitor for chest pain. Notify the provider if the
client experiences chest pain.

● Provide continuous ECG monitoring. Notify the provider
if the client experiences tachycardia or dysrhythmias.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse on a medical‑surgical unit is caring for a
group of clients. The nurse should notify the rapid
response team for which of the following clients?

A. Client who has a pressure injury of the right
heel whose blood glucose is 300 mg/dL

B. Client who reports right calf pain
and shortness of breath

C. Client who has blood on a pressure dressing in the
femoral area following a cardiac catheterization

d. Client who has dark red coloration of
left toes and absent pedal pulse

2. A nurse is caring for a client who has ingested a
toxic agent. Which of the following actions should
the nurse plan to take? (select all that apply.)

A. induce vomiting.

B. instill activated charcoal.

C. Perform a gastric lavage with aspiration.

d. Administer syrup of ipecac.

e. infuse iV fluids.

3. A nurse in the emergency department is
caring for a client who fell through the ice on
a pond and is unresponsive and breathing
slowly. Which of the following actions should
the nurse take? (select all that apply.)

A. remove wet clothing.

B. Maintain normal room temperature.

C. Apply warm blankets.

d. Use a rapid rewarming water of 40º
to 42º C (104º to 108º F).

e. infuse warmed iV fluids.

4. A nurse in the emergency department is assessing a
client who is unresponsive. The client’s partner states,
“He was pulling weeds in the yard and slumped
to the ground.” Which of the following techniques
should the nurse use to open the client’s airway?

A. Head‑tilt, chin‑lift

B. Modified jaw thrust

C. Hyperextension of the head

d. Flexion of the head

5. A nurse is reviewing the common emergency
management protocol for clients who have asystole.
Which of the following actions should the nurse
plan to take during this cardiac emergency?

A. Perform defibrillation.

B. Prepare for transcutaneous pacing.

C. Administer iV epinephrine.

d. elevate the client’s lower extremities.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 22 eMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNTeMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNT 13

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse in the emergency department (ed) is implementing
triage using the five‑level system. Use the ATi Active
Learning Template: Basic Concept to complete this item.

RELATED CONTENT: identify the five
levels of the ed triage system.

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES: define
each of the five triage levels.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: describe a client who
meets the criteria for each of the five triage levels.

Application Exercises Key

1. A. The nurse should notify the provider. The
situation does not indicate the beginning of a
rapid decline in the client’s condition.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should identify that the client
is at risk for respiratory arrest due to a possible
embolism. The nurse should call the rapid response
team because the manifestations can indicate the
beginning of a rapid decline in the client’s condition.

C. This assessment does not indicate the beginning
of a rapid decline in the client’s condition at this
time. The nurse should reassess the client and
notify the provider if the bleeding increases.

d. The nurse should notify the provider. The
situation does not indicate the beginning of a
rapid decline in the client’s condition.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Medical Emergencies

2. A. Vomiting places the client at risk for aspiration.
B. CORRECT: This is an appropriate action by the nurse

because activated charcoal adsorbs toxic substances,
and the charcoal does not pass into the bloodstream.

C. CORRECT: This is an appropriate action by the
nurse because gastric lavage with aspiration
removes the toxic substance when the instilled fluid
is suctioned from the gastrointestinal tract.

d. Administering syrup of ipecac is not recommended
because it induces vomiting, which increases
the client’s risk for aspiration.

e. CORRECT: This is an appropriate action by the
nurse because intravenous fluids help dilute the
toxic substances in the bloodstream and promote
elimination from the body through the kidneys.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Medical Emergencies

3. A. CORRECT: This is an appropriate action by the
nurse because the body temperature can rise more
quickly when heat is applied to dry skin.

B. The nurse should increase the temperature of the room to
help return the client to a normal body temperature.

C. CORRECT: This is an appropriate action by the nurse
because the client’s body temperature can rise more
quickly when warm blankets are applied.

d. CORRECT: This is an appropriate action by the nurse because
the client’s body temperature can rise more quickly when a
rapid rewarming bath water of 40º to 42º C (104º to 108º F)
is used to warm the client’s body and preserve tissues.

e. CORRECT: This is an appropriate action by the nurse
because the client’s body temperature can rise more
quickly when warmed iV fluids are infused.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Medical Emergencies

4. A. CORRECT: The nurse should open the client’s
airway by the head‑tilt, chin‑lift because the client is
unresponsive without suspicion of trauma.

B. The nurse should not open the client’s airway with the
modified jaw thrust because this method is used for a client
who is unresponsive with suspected traumatic neck injury.

C. The nurse should not open the client’s airway with
hyperextension of the head because hyperextension of
the head can close off the airway and cause injury.

d. The nurse should not open the client’s airway
with flexion of the head because flexion of
the head does not open the airway.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Medical Emergencies

5. A. defibrillation is not indicated for asystole, because this
is not considered a shockable cardiac rhythm.

B. Transcutaneous pacing is not indicated
for the treatment of asystole.

C. CORRECT: Administering epinephrine during
asystole is an appropriate action by the nurse
because it increases heart rate, improves cardiac
output, and promotes bronchodilation.

d. elevating the client’s lower extremities is indicated for the
treatment of a client who is in shock, rather than asystole.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Medical Emergencies

14 CHAPTER 22 eMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNTeMerGeNCy NUrsiNG PriNCiPLes ANd MANAGeMeNT CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Basic Concept

RELATED CONTENT
● resuscitation
● emergent
● Urgent
● Less Urgent
● Nonurgent

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES
● resuscitation: The client needs immediate treatment to prevent death.
● emergent: The client requires time sensitive treatment for a problem that has the potential to become a life or limb‑threatening situation.
● Urgent: The client requires treatment but the situation is not life‑threatening.
● Less Urgent: The client is able to wait for a period of time without immediate treatment.
● Nonurgent: The client requires simple evaluation and minor management of care.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● resuscitation: A client who is experiencing cardiac arrest, stroke, pulmonary emboli, or drug overdose.
● emergent: A client who has sustained a traumatic amputation, head or neck injury, snake or spider bite.
● Urgent: A client who has a kidney stone, gallbladder colic, or fracture.
● Less Urgent: A client who has a bladder infection, laceration, or infected toe.
● Nonurgent: A client who has a rash, minor cut, or backache.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Medical Emergencies

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING NCLeX® CONNeCTiONs 15

NCLEX® Connections

When reviewing the following chapters, keep in mind the
relevant topics and tasks of the NCLEX outline, in particular:

Basic Care and Comfort
NON-PHARMACOLOGICAL COMFORT INTERVENTIONS:
Provide non-pharmacological comfort measures.

MOBILITY/IMMOBILITY: Assess the client for
mobility, gait, strength, and motor skills.

NUTRITION AND ORAL HYDRATION
Evaluate client intake and output and intervene as needed.

Evaluate the impact of disease/illness on nutritional status of a client.

Physiological Adaptation
ALTERATIONS IN BODY SYSTEMS: Apply knowledge of
nursing procedures, pathophysiology and psychomotor skills
when caring for a client with an alteration in body systems.

ILLNESS MANAGEMENT: Implement interventions
to manage the client’s recovery from an illness.

Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
ADVERSE EFFECTS/CONTRAINDICATIONS/
SIDE EFFECTS/INTERACTIONS
Assess the client for actual or potential side effects
and adverse effects of medications.

Apply knowledge of nursing procedures and psychomotor skills
when caring for a client with potential for complications.

EXPECTED ACTIONS/OUTCOMES: Evaluate

CLIENT RESPONSE TO MEDICATION.

PHARMACOLOGICAL PAIN MANAGEMENT
Assess client need for administration of a PRN pain medication.

Administer medications for pain management.

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16 NCLeX® CONNeCTiONs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Reduction of Risk Potential
DIAGNOSTIC TESTS: Compare client diagnostic
findings with pretest results.

POTENTIAL FOR COMPLICATIONS OF DIAGNOSTIC TESTS/
TREATMENTS/PROCEDURES: Use precautions to prevent injury
and/or complications associated with a procedure or diagnosis.

THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES: Apply knowledge of related
nursing procedures and psychomotor skills when caring
for clients undergoing therapeutic procedures.

Safety and Infection Control
STANDARD PRECAUTIONS/TRANSMISSION-BASED PRECAUTIONS/
SURGICAL ASEPSIS: Apply principles of infection control.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 3 NeUrOLOGiC diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres 17

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 3 Neurologic
Diagnostic
Procedures

Neurologic assessment and diagnostic
procedures are used to evaluate neurologic
function by testing indicators such as mental
status, motor functioning, electrical activity, and
intracranial pressure.

Neurologic assessment and diagnostic
procedures that nurses should be
knowledgeable about include cerebral
angiography, cerebral computed tomography
(CT) scan, electroencephalography (eeG),
Glasgow Coma scale (GCs), intracranial pressure
monitoring, lumbar puncture (spinal tap),
magnetic resonance imaging (Mri), positron
emission tomography (PeT), single‑photon
emission computed tomography (sPeCT), and
radiography (x‑ray).

Cerebral angiography
Cerebral angiography provides visualization of the
cerebral blood vessels.

● Digital subtraction angiography hides the bones and
tissues from the images, providing x-rays with only the
vessels apparent.

● The procedure detects defects, narrowing, or obstruction
of arteries or blood vessels in the brain.

● The procedure is performed within the radiology
department because iodine-based contrast dye is
injected into an artery during the procedure.

INDICATIONS
Cerebral angiography is used to assess the blood flow to
and within the brain, identify aneurysms, and define the
vascularity of tumors (useful for surgical planning). It is
also used therapeutically to inject medications that treat
blood clots or to administer chemotherapy.

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
If the client is pregnant, a determination of the risks to
the fetus versus the benefits of the information obtained
by this procedure should be made.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Instruct the client to refrain from consuming food or

fluids for 4 to 6 hr prior to the procedure.
● Assess for history of allergies.
● Any history of bleeding or taking anticoagulant

medication requires additional considerations and
additional monitoring to ensure clotting after the
procedure.

● Assess BUN and blood creatinine to determine the
kidney’s ability to excrete the dye.

● Ensure that the client is not wearing any jewelry.
● A mild sedative for relaxation is occasionally

administered prior to and during the procedure, and vital
signs are continuously monitored during the procedure.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● The head will be immobilized during the procedure, and

it is important to remain still.
● Void immediately prior to the procedure.
● Following dye injection, it is common to experience a

metallic taste and feel a sensation of warmth behind the
eyes, and over the face, jaw, tongue, and lips.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
● The client is placed on a radiography table, where the

client’s head is secured.
● A catheter is placed into an artery (usually in the groin

or the neck), dye is injected, and x-ray pictures are taken.
● Once all pictures are taken, the catheter is removed and

an arterial closure device is used or pressure is held over
the artery to control bleeding by thrombus formation
sealing the artery.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Closely monitor the area to ensure that clotting occurs.
● Movements are restricted depending on the type of

procedure used to seal the artery to prevent rebleeding
at the catheter site.

● Place an ice pack on the insertion site.

COMPLICATIONS
There is a risk for bleeding or hematoma formation at the
entry site.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Check the insertion site frequently.
● Check the affected extremity distal to the puncture

site for adequate circulation (color, temperature, pulses,
capillary refill).

● If bleeding occurs, apply pressure over the artery and
notify the provider.

CHAPTER 3

18 CHAPTER 3 NeUrOLOGiC diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Cerebral computed
tomography scan

A CT scan provides cross-sectional images of the cranial
cavity. A contrast medium can be used to enhance
the images.

INDICATIONS
CT scanning can be used to identify tumors and
infarctions, detect abnormalities, monitor response to
treatment, and guide needles used for biopsies.

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
If the client is pregnant, a determination of the risks to
the fetus versus the benefits of the information obtained
by this procedure should be made.

NURSING ACTIONS
● If contrast media and/or sedation is expected:

◯ Instruct the client to refrain from consuming food or
fluids for at least 4 hr prior to the procedure.

◯ Assess for allergy to shellfish or iodine, which would
require the use of a different contrast media.

◯ Assess BUN and creatinine because contrast media is
excreted by the kidneys.

● Because this procedure is performed with the client in
a supine position, placing pillows in the small of the
client’s back can assist in preventing back pain. The
head must be secured to prevent unnecessary movement
during the procedure.

● Ensure that the client’s jewelry is removed prior to this
procedure. In general, clients wear a hospital gown to
prevent any metals from interfering with the x-rays.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
● The client must lie supine with the head stabilized

during the procedure.
● Although CT scanning is painless, sedation can

be provided.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● There is no follow-up care associated with a CT scan.
● If contrast media is injected, monitor for allergic

reaction and changes in kidney function.
● If sedation is administered, monitor the client

until stable.

Electroencephalography
An EEG is a noninvasive procedure that assesses the
electrical activity of the brain and is used to determine
abnormalities in brain wave patterns. An EEG provides
information about the ability of the brain to function and
highlights areas of abnormality.

INDICATIONS
EEGs are most commonly performed to identify and
determine seizure activity, but they are also useful for
detecting sleep disorders and behavioral changes.

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS: Review medications with the
provider to determine if they should be continued prior to
this procedure.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Wash the hair to eliminate all oils, gels, and sprays.
● Stay awake prior to the test. Being sleep-deprived

provides cranial stress, increasing the possibility of
abnormal electrical activity, such as seizure potentials,
occurring during the procedure.

● To stimulate electrical activity during the test, you
might be exposed to bright flashing lights, or asked to
hyperventilate for 3 to 4 min.

● Avoid taking any stimulant or sedative medication 12 to
24 hr prior to the procedure.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
● The procedure generally takes 45 to 120 min.
● There are no risks associated with this procedure.
● With the client resting in a chair or lying in bed, small

electrodes are placed on the scalp and connected to a
brain wave machine or computer.

● Electrical signals produced by the brain are recorded by
the machine or computer in the form of wavy lines. This
documents brain activity.

● Notations are made when stimuli are presented or when
sleep occurs. (Flashes of light or pictures can be used
during the procedure to assess the client’s response
to stimuli.)

POsTPrOCedUre
CLIENT EDUCATION: Resume your normal activities
and routine.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 3 NeUrOLOGiC diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres 19

Glasgow Coma Scale
This assessment concentrates on neurologic function
and is useful to determine the level of consciousness and
monitor response to treatment. The Glasgow Coma Scale is
reported as a number that allows providers to immediately
determine if neurologic changes have occurred.

INDICATIONS
GCS scores are helpful in determining changes in the
level of consciousness for clients who have head injuries,
space-occupying lesions or cerebral infarctions, and
encephalitis. This is important because complications
related to neurologic injuries can occur rapidly and require
immediate treatment.

CONSIDERATIONS
GCS scores are calculated by using appropriate stimuli (a
painful stimulus can be necessary) and then assessing the
client’s response in three areas.

● Eye opening (E): The best eye response, with responses
ranging from 4 to 1

◯ 4 = Eye opening occurs spontaneously.
◯ 3 = Eye opening occurs secondary to sound.
◯ 2 = Eye opening occurs secondary to pain.
◯ 1 = Eye opening does not occur.

● Verbal (V): The best verbal response, with responses
ranging from 5 to 1

◯ 5 = Conversation is coherent and oriented.
◯ 4 = Conversation is incoherent and disoriented.
◯ 3 = Words are spoken, but inappropriately.
◯ 2 = Sounds are made, but no words.
◯ 1 = Vocalization does not occur.

● Motor (M): The best motor response, with responses
ranging from 6 to 1

◯ 6 = Commands are followed.
◯ 5 = Local reaction to pain occurs.
◯ 4 = General withdrawal from pain.
◯ 3 = Decorticate posture (adduction of arms, flexion of
elbows and wrists) is present.

◯ 2 = Decerebrate posture (abduction of arms, extension
of elbows and wrists) is present.

◯ 1 = Motor response does not occur.
Responses within each subscale are added, with the
total score quantitatively describing the client’s level of
consciousness. E + V + M = Total GCS

● In critical situations, where head injury is present and
close monitoring is required, subscale results may also
be documented. Thus, a GCS may be reported as either
a single number, indicating the sum of the subscales
(3 to 15), or as 3 numbers, one from each subscale result,
and the total (E3 V3 M4 = GCS 10). This allows providers
to determine specific neurologic function.

● Intubation limits the ability to use GCS summed scores.
If intubation is present, the GCS may be reported as
two scores, with modification noted. This is generally
reported by totaling the eye and motor score, and
recording it with a “t”, such as “GCS 5t” (with the t
representing the intubation tube).

INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS
● The best possible GCS score is 15. In general, total scores

of the GCS correlate with the degree or level of coma.
● A score less than 8 is associated with severe head injury

and coma.
● A score of 9 to 12 indicates a moderate head injury.
● A score greater than 13 is associated with minor

head trauma.

Intracranial pressure
monitoring

An intracranial pressure (ICP) monitor is a device inserted
into the cranial cavity that records pressure and is
connected to a monitor that shows a picture of the
pressure waveforms.

● Monitoring ICP facilitates continual assessment and is
more precise than vague manifestations.

● The insertion procedure is performed by a neurosurgeon
in the operating room, emergency department, or
critical care unit. This procedure is rarely used unless
the client is comatose, so there is minimal need for pain
medication and preprocedural client teaching.

Three basic types of ICP monitoring systems
● Intraventricular catheter (also called a

ventriculostomy): A fluid-filled catheter is inserted into
the anterior horn of the lateral ventricles (most often
on the right side) through a burr hole. The catheter is
connected to a sterile drainage system with a three-way
stopcock that allows simultaneous drainage of
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and monitoring of pressures by
a transducer connected to a bedside monitor.

● Subarachnoid screw or bolt: A hollow, threaded screw
or bolt is placed into the subarachnoid space through a
twist-drill burr hole in the front of the skull, behind the
hairline. The bolt is connected by fluid-filled tubing to
a transducer leveled at the approximate location of the
lateral ventricles.

● Epidural or subdural sensor: A fiber-optic sensor
is inserted into the epidural space through a burr
hole. The fiber-optic device measures changes in the
amount of light reflected from a pressure-sensitive
diaphragm in the catheter tip. The cable is connected
to a precalibrated monitor that displays the numerical
value of ICP. This method of monitoring is noninvasive
because the device does not penetrate the dura.

INDICATIONS
● ICP monitoring is useful for early identification and

treatment of increased intracranial pressure. Clients
who are comatose or have GCS scores of 8 or lower are
candidates for ICP monitoring.

● Manifestations of increased ICP include severe headache,
deteriorating level of consciousness, restlessness,
irritability, dilated or pinpoint pupils, slowness to
react, alteration in breathing pattern (Cheyne-Stokes
respirations, central neurologic hyperventilation,
apnea), deterioration in motor function, and abnormal
posturing (decerebrate, decorticate, flaccidity).

20 CHAPTER 3 NeUrOLOGiC diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
The head is shaved around the insertion location. The site
is then cleansed with an antibacterial solution.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
● Local anesthetic can be used to numb the area if the

client’s GCS indicates some level of consciousness
(GCS 8 to 11).

● Insertion and care of any ICP monitoring device
requires surgical aseptic technique to reduce the risk for
CNS infection.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Maintain system integrity at all times.
System contamination can cause serious,
life-threatening infection.

● Inspect the insertion site at least every 24 hr for redness,
swelling, and drainage. Change the sterile dressing
covering the access site per facility protocol.

● ICP monitoring equipment must be balanced and
recalibrated per facility protocols.

● After the insertion procedure, observe ICP waveforms,
noting the pattern of waveforms and monitoring for
increased ICP (a sustained elevation of pressure greater
than 15 mm Hg).

● Assess the client’s clinical status and monitor routine
and neurologic vital signs every hour as needed.

INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS
Normal ICP is 10 to 15 mm Hg. Persistent elevation of ICP
minimizes cerebral circulation, which will result in brain
death if not treated urgently.

COMPLICATIONS
The insertion and maintenance of an ICP monitoring
system can cause infection and bleeding.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Follow strict surgical aseptic technique.
● Perform sterile dressing changes per facility protocol.
● Keep drainage systems closed.
● Limit monitoring to 3 to 5 days.
● Irrigate the system only as needed to maintain patency.

Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
A lumbar puncture is a procedure during which a small
amount of CSF is withdrawn from the spinal canal and
then analyzed to determine its constituents.

INDICATIONS
This procedure is used to detect the presence of some
diseases (multiple sclerosis, syphilis, meningitis),
infection, and malignancies. A lumbar puncture may also
be used to reduce CSF pressure, instill a contrast medium
or air for diagnostic tests, or administer medication or
chemotherapy directly to spinal fluid.

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
The risks versus benefits of a lumbar puncture should be
discussed with the client prior to this procedure.

● A lumbar puncture can be associated with rare but
serious complications, such as brain herniation,
especially when performed in the presence of
increased ICP.

● Lumbar punctures for clients who have bleeding
disorders or who are taking anticoagulants can result in
bleeding that compresses the spinal cord.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Ensure that all of the client’s jewelry is removed and

that the client is wearing only a hospital gown.
● Instruct the client to void prior to the procedure.
● Clients should be positioned to stretch the spinal

canal. This can be done by having the client assume a
“cannonball” position while on one side. (3.1)

iNTrAPrOCedUre
● The area of the needle insertion is cleansed, and a local

anesthetic is injected.
● The needle is inserted and the CSF is withdrawn, after

which the needle is removed.
● A manometer can be used to determine the opening

pressure of the spinal cord, which is useful if increased
pressure is a consideration.

POsTPrOCedUre
CSF is sent to the pathology department for analysis.

● NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor the puncture site. The
client should remain lying for several hours to ensure
that the site clots and to decrease the risk of a
post-lumbar puncture headache, caused by
CSF leakage.

● CLIENT EDUCATION: Normal activities may be resumed
after prescribed bed rest is complete as long as in
stable condition.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 3 NeUrOLOGiC diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres 21

COMPLICATIONS
If clotting does not occur to seal the dura puncture site,
CSF can leak, resulting in a headache and increasing the
potential for infection.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Encourage the client to lie flat in bed. Provide fluids for

hydration, and administer pain medication.
● Prepare the client for an epidural blood patch to seal the

hole in the dura if the headache persists.

Magnetic resonance
imaging scan

An MRI scan of the head provides cross-sectional images
of the cranial cavity. A contrast medium may be used to
enhance the images.

● Unlike CT scans, MRI images are obtained using
magnets, thus the consequences associated with
radiation are avoided. This makes this procedure safer
for women who are pregnant.

● The use of magnets precludes the ability to scan a client
who has an artificial device (pacemakers, surgical clips,
intravenous access port).

! Use Mri‑approved equipment to monitor
vital signs and provide ventilator/oxygen
assistance to clients undergoing Mri scans.

INDICATIONS
● MRI scans are used to detect abnormalities, monitor

response to treatment, and guide needles used
for biopsies.

● MRIs are capable of discriminating soft tissue from
tumor or bone. This makes the MRI scan effective in
determining tumor size and blood vessel location.

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Remove any transdermal patches with a foil backing, as
these can cause burn injuries.

● Ensure that the client’s jewelry is removed prior to this
procedure. The client should wear a hospital gown to
prevent any metals from interfering with the magnet.

● If sedation is expected, the client should refrain from
food or fluids for 4 to 8 hr prior to the procedure.

● Determine if the client has a history of claustrophobia,
and explain the tight space and noise.

● Ask the client about any implants containing metal
(pacemaker, orthopedic joints, artificial heart valves,
intrauterine devices, aneurysm clips).

● Ensure all people who will be in the scanning area while
the magnet is on remove all jewelry, electronics, and
phones to prevent damage to themselves or the magnet.

● Place pillows in the small of the client’s back to prevent
back pain from lying supine. The head must be secured
to prevent unnecessary movement during the procedure.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
● Ensure the client remains supine with the

head stabilized.
● MRI scanning is noisy, and earplugs or sedation may

be provided.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● If contrast media is injected, monitor the site to
ensure that clotting has occurred and monitor for any
indications of an allergic reaction.

● If sedation is administered, monitor the client
until stable.

3.1 Lumbar puncture positioning

3.2 Lumbar puncture

22 CHAPTER 3 NeUrOLOGiC diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

PET and SPECT scans
Positron emission tomography and single-photon
emission computed tomography scans are nuclear
medicine procedures that produce three-dimensional
images of the head. These images can be static (depicting
vessels) or functional (depicting brain activity).

● A glucose-based tracer is injected into the blood stream
prior to the PET scan. This initiates regional metabolic
activity, which is then documented by the PET scanner.
A radioisotope is used for SPECT scanning.

● A CT scan may be performed after a PET/SPECT scan, as
this provides information regarding brain activity and
pathological location (brain injury, death, neoplasm).

INDICATIONS
A PET/SPECT scan captures regional metabolic processes,
which is most useful in determining tumor activity and/or
response to treatment. PET/SPECT scans are also able
to determine the presence of dementia, indicated by the
inability of the brain to respond to the tracer.

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
PET/SPECT scans use radiation, thus the risks and benefits
to a client who might be pregnant must be discussed.

NURSING ACTIONS: Assess for a history of diabetes
mellitus. While this condition does not preclude a
PET/SPECT scan, alterations in the client’s medications
can be necessary to avoid hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia
before and after this procedure.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
● While the pictures are being obtained, the client must

lie flat with the head restrained.
● This procedure is not painful and sedation is

rarely necessary.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● If radioisotopes are used, assess for allergic reaction.
● There is no follow-up care after a PET/SPECT scan.
● Because the tracer is glucose-based and short-acting

(less than 2 hr), it is broken down within the body as a
sugar, not excreted.

Radiography (x‑ray)
● An x-ray uses electromagnetic radiation to capture

images of the internal structures of an individual.
● A structure’s image is light or dark relative to the

amount of radiation the tissue absorbs. The image is
recorded on a radiograph, which is a black-and-white
image that is held up to light for visualization. Some are
recorded digitally and available immediately.

INDICATIONS
X-ray examinations of the skull and spine can reveal
fractures, curvatures, bone erosion and dislocation, and
possible soft tissue calcification, all of which can damage
the nervous system.

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● There is no specific preprocedure protocol for x-rays
that do not use contrast. X-rays are often the first
diagnostic tool used after an injury (such as rule out
cervical fracture in head trauma).

● Determine whether the client is pregnant.
● Ensure that the client’s jewelry is removed and that no

clothes cover the area.
CLIENT EDUCATION: Explain that the amount of radiation
used in contemporary x-ray machines is very small.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
The procedure is quick, but the client is to remain still
during the procedure.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS: No postprocedure care is required.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 3 NeUrOLOGiC diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres 23

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who is postprocedure
following lumbar puncture and reports a throbbing
headache when sitting upright. Which of the following
actions should the nurse take? (select all that apply.)

A. Use the Glasgow Coma scale
when assessing the client.

B. Assist the client to a supine position.

C. Administer an opioid medication.

d. encourage the client to increase fluid intake.

e. instruct the client to perform deep
breathing and coughing exercises.

2. A nurse is caring for a client who experienced a
traumatic head injury and has an intraventricular
catheter (ventriculostomy) for iCP monitoring. The
nurse should monitor the client for which of the
following complications related to the ventriculostomy?

A. Headache

B. infection

C. Aphasia

d. Hypertension

3. A nurse is assessing a client for changes in the level
of consciousness using the Glasgow Coma scale
(GCs). The client opens his eyes when spoken to,
speaks incoherently, and moves his extremities
when pain is applied. Which of the following
GCs scores should the nurse document?

A. e2 + V3 + M5 = 10

B. e3 + V4 + M4 = 11

C. e4 + V5 + M6 = 15

d. e2 + V2 + M4 = 8

4. A nurse is developing a plan of care for a client
who is scheduled for cerebral angiography
with contrast media. Which of the following
statements by the client should the nurse report
to the provider? (select all that apply.)

A. “i think i might be pregnant.”

B. “i take warfarin.”

C. “i take antihypertensive medication.”

d. “i am allergic to shrimp.”

e. “i ate a light breakfast this morning.”

5. A nurse is providing education to a client who
is to undergo an electroencephalogram (eeG)
the next day. Which of the following information
should the nurse include in the teaching?

A. “do not wash your hair the
morning of the procedure.”

B. “Try to stay awake most of the night
prior to the procedure.”

C. “The procedure will take
approximately 15 minutes.”

d. “you will need to lie flat for 4 hours
after the procedure.”

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is developing a plan of care for a client who is
scheduled for a magnetic resonance imaging (Mri) scan
with contrast media. What should the nurse include in
the plan of care? Use the ATi Active Learning Template:
diagnostic Procedure to complete this item.

PROCEDURE NAME: define this diagnostic test.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST):
identify three preprocedure actions, one intraprocedure
action, and one postprocedure action.

24 CHAPTER 3 NeUrOLOGiC diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. The Glasgow Coma scale is used to assess a
client’s level of consciousness and is not necessary
following a lumbar puncture.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should assist the client
to a supine position, which can relieve a
headache following a lumbar puncture.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should administer an opioid
medication for a client’s report of headache pain.

d. CORRECT: The nurse should encourage an increased
fluid intake to maintain a positive fluid balance, which
can relieve a headache following a lumbar puncture.

e. Coughing can increase iCP, which can result in
an increase in the client’s headache.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

2. A. The nurse should monitor a client who has increased
iCP for a headache, but a headache does not indicate a
complication directly related to the ventriculostomy.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should monitor a client who has a
ventriculostomy for infection, which is a complication.
The nurse should use strict asepsis to avoid this
life‑threatening condition, which can result in meningitis.

C. The nurse should monitor a client who has increased
iCP for aphasia related to the head injury, but this not a
complication directly related to the ventriculostomy.

d. The nurse should monitor a client who has increased
iCP for hypertension, but this is not a complication
directly related to the ventriculostomy.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

3. A. The calculation is incorrect. e2 represents eyes opening
secondary to pain, V3 represents verbal response with
words spoken inappropriately, and M5 represents
motor response to pain with a local reaction.

B. CORRECT: The client’s score is calculated correctly,
indicating moderate head injury. e3 represents opening
eyes secondary to voice stimulation, V4 represents verbal
conversation that is incoherent and disoriented, and M4
represents motor response as a general withdrawal to pain.

C. The client’s score is calculated incorrectly. e4 represents
eyes opening spontaneously, V5 represents verbal
conversation as coherent and oriented, and M6
indicates a client is able to follow commands.

d. The client’s score is calculated incorrectly. e2 represents eyes
opening secondary to pain, V2 represents verbal response
by the client making sounds but speaking no words, and M4
is a motor response with a general withdrawal to pain.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

4. A. CORRECT: The nurse should report the client’s statement
of possible pregnancy to the provider because the
contrast media can place the fetus at risk.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should report that the
client is taking warfarin to the provider due to the
potential for bleeding following angiography.

C. There is no contraindication related to cerebral angiography
for a client who is taking antihypertensive medication.

d. CORRECT: The nurse should report a client’s report of
allergy to shrimp, which is a shellfish, to the provider due
to a potential allergic reaction to the contrast media.

e. CORRECT: The nurse should report a client’s intake
of food to the provider since the client should remain
NPO for 4 to 6 hr prior to the procedure.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

5. A. The nurse should teach the client to wash her hair on
the morning of the procedure to remove oils, gels, and
sprays, which can affect the eeG readings.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should teach the client to remain
awake most of the night to provide cranial stress and
increase the possibility of abnormal electrical activity.

C. The nurse should teach the client that the
procedure will take approximately 1 hr.

d. The nurse should teach the client that normal activity
can resume immediately following the procedure.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Diagnostic Procedure

PROCEDURE NAME: Magnetic resonance imaging (Mri) scan relies on magnetic field to take multiple images of the body.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST)
● Preprocedure

◯ remove all client jewelry.
◯ determine if the client has claustrophobia.
◯ Question the client concerning implants containing metal.
◯ Question the client regarding allergies.

● intraprocedure: stabilize the client’s head
● Postprocedure: Monitor for allergic reaction to the contrast media used during the Mri.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Diagnostic Tests

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 4 PAiN MANAGeMeNT 25

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 4 Pain Management
effective pain management includes the use of
pharmacological and nonpharmacological pain
management therapies.

Clients have a right to adequate assessment and
management of pain. Nurses are accountable
for the assessment of pain. Professional
organizations and The Joint Commission have
mandates requiring pain assessment and
management. The nurse’s role is that of an
advocate, member of the health care team, and
educator for effective pain management.

Nurses have a priority responsibility for the
continual assessment of the client’s pain level and
to provide individualized interventions. depending
on the setting and route of analgesia administration,
the nurse might need to reassess pain 10 to 60 min
after administering medication.

Assessment challenges can occur with clients
who have cognitive impairment, who speak
a different language than the nurse, or who
receive prescribed mechanical ventilation.

PHYSIOLOGY
● Nociceptive pain involves transduction, transmission,

perception, and modulation of impulses generated by
nociceptors located throughout the body.

● Stimuli following tissue damage from cuts, burns,
tumor growth, or chemicals trigger these nociceptors to
send a message to the nervous system.

● Neuropathic pain is caused by changes in the peripheral
or central nervous system.

◯ Peripheral sensitization, changes in ion channels,
and neuroplasticity are peripheral nervous system
changes that contribute to neuropathic pain.
Neuroplasticity occurs when nerve endings are
damaged and reorganized in an abnormal manner.

◯ Central nervous system changes that lead to
neuropathic pain include an increase in the
excitability of central neurons, an increase in the
release of and binding of neurotransmitters, and
reorganization of nerves following injury, all of which
alter or increase pain sensations.

ASSESSMENT
Pain is whatever the person experiencing it says it is, and
it exists whenever the person says it does. The client’s
report of pain is the most reliable diagnostic measure of
pain. Self-report using standardized pain scales is useful
for clients over the age of 7 years. Specialized pain scales
are available for use with younger children and other
clients who are unable to self-report pain. There are a
variety of pain scales that feature images, numbers,
intensity indicators, and descriptive words, and in various
languages.

● Assess and document pain (the fifth vital sign)
according to the client’s condition and agency
guidelines. (4.1)

● Use a focused assessment to obtain subjective data. (4.2)

CHAPTER 4

4.1 Pain categories

Acute pain
Acute pain is protective,
temporary, usually
self‑limiting, and resolves
with tissue healing.
Physiological responses
(sympathetic nervous
system) are fight‑or‑flight
responses (tachycardia,
hypertension, anxiety,
diaphoresis, muscle tension).
Behavioral responses
include grimacing, moaning,
flinching, and guarding.
The nurse should be aware
that a client not exhibiting
physiological or behavioral
responses does not mean
that pain is absent.
interventions include treatment
of the underlying problem.
surgical incisions and wounds
from injury produce acute pain.

Chronic pain
Chronic pain is not protective.
it is ongoing or recurs
frequently, lasting longer
than 3 months and persisting
beyond tissue healing.
Physiological responses do
not usually increase vital signs.
The client’s vital signs can
actually be lower than normal
in response to chronic pain.
Clients can have depression,
fatigue, decreased level of
functioning, or disability.
Chronic pain might not have
a known cause, and it might
not respond to interventions.
Chronic pain can be classified
as chronic cancer pain or
chronic noncancer pain.
The pain associated with
osteoarthritis and neuropathy
are examples of chronic pain.

Nociceptive pain
Nociceptive pain arises from
damage to or inflammation
of tissue other than that
of the peripheral and
central nervous systems.
Nociceptive pain is the
result of activation of normal
processing of painful stimuli.
it is usually throbbing,
aching, and localized.
This pain is managed
using opioids and non‑
opioid medications.

TYPES OF NOCICEPTIVE PAIN
somatic: in bones,
joints, muscles, skin, or
connective tissues.
Visceral: in internal organs
such as the stomach or
intestines. it can cause referred
pain in other body locations
separate from the stimulus.

Neuropathic pain
Neuropathic pain arises
from abnormal or
damaged pain nerves.
it differs from nociceptive
pain as it is the abnormal
processing of painful stimuli.
it includes phantom limb
pain, pain below the level
of a spinal cord injury, and
diabetic neuropathy.
Neuropathic pain is
usually intense, shooting,
burning, or described as
“pins and needles.”
This pain typically is
managed using adjuvant
medications (antidepressants,
antispasmodic agents,
skeletal muscle relaxants).

26 CHAPTER 4 PAiN MANAGeMeNT CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

TyPes OF PAiN
Pain is categorized by duration (acute or chronic) or by
pathology (nociceptive or neuropathic).

● Clients can experience mixed pain that is difficult to
categorize. Conditions that cause mixed pain include
fibromyalgia, HIV, and Lyme disease.

● Breakthrough pain occurs when a client experiences an
exacerbation of acute pain. Clients who have chronic
conditions can experience episodes of breakthrough
pain requiring additional pain relief measures.

risK FACTOrs
Risk factors for undertreatment of pain

● Cultural and societal attitudes
● Lack of knowledge
● Fear of addiction
● Exaggerated fear of respiratory depression

Populations at risk for undertreatment of pain
● Infants
● Children
● Older adults
● Clients who have substance use disorder

Causes of acute and chronic pain
● Trauma
● Surgery
● Cancer (tumor invasion, nerve compression, bone

metastases, associated infections, immobility)
● Arthritis
● Fibromyalgia
● Neuropathy
● Diagnostic or treatment procedures (injection,

intubation, radiation)

Factors that affect the pain experience
● Age

◯ Infants cannot verbalize or understand their pain.
◯ Older adult clients can have multiple pathologies that
cause pain and limit function.

● Fatigue can increase sensitivity to pain.
● Genetic sensitivity can increase or decrease

pain tolerance.
● Cognitive function: Clients who are cognitively impaired

might not be able to report pain or report it accurately.
● Prior experiences can increase or decrease sensitivity

depending on whether clients obtained adequate relief.
● Anxiety and fear can increase sensitivity to pain.
● Support systems can decrease sensitivity to pain.
● Culture can influence how clients express pain or the

meaning they give to pain.

4.2 Focused pain assessment

Location
USE ANATOMICAL TERMINOLOGY AND
LANDMARKS TO DESCRIBE LOCATION.
Ask: “Where is your pain?”
Ask: “Does it radiate anywhere else?”
Ask clients to point to the location.

Quality
QUALITY REFERS TO HOW THE PAIN FEELS:
sharp, dull, aching, burning, stabbing, pounding,
throbbing, shooting, gnawing, tender, heavy, tight,
tiring, exhausting, sickening, terrifying, torturing,
nagging, annoying, intense, or unbearable.
Ask: “What does the pain feel like?” Give more than two
choices (“Is the pain throbbing, burning, or stabbing?”).

Measures
INTENSITY, STRENGTH, AND SEVERITY ARE
“MEASURES” OF THE PAIN. Use visual analog
scales (description scale, number rating scale)
to measure pain, monitor pain, and evaluate
the effectiveness of interventions.
Ask: “How much pain do you have now?”
Ask: “What is the worst/best the pain has been?”
Ask: “Rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10.”

Timing
ONSET, DURATION, FREQUENCY.
Ask: “When did it start?”
Ask: “How long does it last?”
Ask: “How often does it occur?”
Ask: “Is it constant or intermittent?”

Setting
HOW THE PAIN AFFECTS DAILY LIFE OR HOW
ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING (ADLS) AFFECT THE PAIN.
Ask: “Where are you when the symptoms occur?”
Ask: “What are you doing when the symptoms occur?”
Ask: “How does the pain affect your sleep?”
Ask: “How does the pain affect your
ability to work and do your job?”

Associated manifestations
DOCUMENT ASSOCIATED MANIFESTATIONS:
fatigue, depression, nausea, anxiety.
Ask: “What other symptoms do you have
when you are feeling pain?”

Aggravating/relieving factors
Ask: “What makes the pain better?”
Ask: “What makes the pain worse?”
Ask: “Are you currently taking any prescription,
herbal, or over‑the‑counter medications?”

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 4 PAiN MANAGeMeNT 27

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Behaviors complement self-report and assist in pain

assessment of nonverbal clients.
◯ Facial expressions (grimacing, wrinkled forehead),

body movements (restlessness, pacing, guarding)
◯ Moaning, crying
◯ Decreased attention span

● Blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate can
temporarily increase with acute pain. Eventually,
increases in vital signs will stabilize despite the
persistence of pain. Therefore, physiologic indicators
might not be an accurate measure of pain over time.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Incorporate pharmacological and nonpharmacological

strategies into the plan of care. Consider the client’s
preferences. Discuss the use of complementary and
alternative practices.

● Assist the client to set a pain-relief or comfort-function
goal and refer back to the goal when planning or
evaluating pain interventions.

● Determine the client’s need for scheduled analgesia,
such as for chronic or postoperative pain.

● Plan to premedicate the client prior to painful
procedures (repositioning, wound care, invasive
diagnostic testing).

● Refer to dosage charts that describe equianalgesia to
compare the potency levels of various pain medications.

NONPHArMACOLOGiCAL
PAiN MANAGeMeNT

● Nonpharmacological pain strategies help to improve
coping by relieving stress associated with pain.
These strategies can assist clients in reducing the
amount of pharmacological interventions for pain
and are particularly helpful when clients cannot take
pain medication.

● Clients might choose nonpharmacological
complementary and alternative measures to
manage pain.

◯ Mind-body practices (yoga,
chiropractic manipulation)

◯ Cognitive approaches (meditation, distraction)
◯ Natural products (herbs, oils)

PHArMACOLOGiCAL iNTerVeNTiONs
Analgesics are the mainstay for relieving pain. The
parenteral route is best for immediate, short-term
relief of acute pain. The oral route is better for chronic,
nonfluctuating pain.

● Treatment tools, such as the WHO analgesic ladder,
suggest administering non-opioid analgesics first,
progressing through weak opioids to stronger ones to
manage pain.

● Expect to administer IV analgesia immediately
postoperatively, and to transition clients to oral
medication as pain is managed properly through the
postoperative period.

● When transitioning clients from IV to oral analgesia, a
larger dose is required for oral dosing because the full
dose of medication does not reach the bloodstream.

● Clients experiencing acute pain receive doses that are
gradually titrated down until they can be comfortable
without medication, or at a minimal dose.

● The three classes of analgesics are non-opioids, opioids,
and adjuvants.

Non-opioid analgesics
Non-opioid analgesics are appropriate for treating mild
to moderate pain, and are often added to opioids for
treatment for more intense pain. Non-opioid analgesics
also have antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties.

● Non-opioid analgesics are often prescribed following
painful procedures.

● Acetaminophen is most often used, alone or in
combination with other mediations.

◯ Ensure the total amount of acetaminophen a client
consumes daily does not exceed 4 g for clients 50 kg
(110 lb) or greater.

◯ It is safe to administer acetaminophen concurrently
with NSAIDS (ibuprofen, aspirin, celecoxib,
naproxen) ketorolac, because the medications act in
different ways.

28 CHAPTER 4 PAiN MANAGeMeNT CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Opioid analgesics
Opioid analgesics are appropriate for treating moderate
to severe pain. The term “narcotic” is not synonymous
with opioid analgesics. Narcotics can also refer to illegal
substances such as cocaine.

● Opioid analgesics for moderate pain include tramadol,
hydrocodone, and codeine.

● Hydromorphone, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, or
methadone are effects for more severe pain. Morphine
is the opioid most used and other opioid effects are
compared to the effects of morphine.

● Meperidine is no longer recommended for use except in
rare conditions at low doses.

● Check opioid formulations carefully to determine
whether a short-acting or modified release (extended
release) dose is indicated.

● For many opioids, the dose can be titrated upward
progressively until the client experiences pain relief;
however, upward titration increases the risk for
adverse effects.

● Opioids are available in transdermal, transmucosal, and
buccal routes.

● It is essential to monitor and intervene for adverse
effects of opioid use.

◯ Constipation: Use a preventative approach (monitoring
of bowel movements, fluids, fiber intake, exercise,
stool softeners, stimulant laxatives, enemas).

◯ Orthostatic hypotension: Advise clients to sit or lie
down if lightheadedness or dizziness occur. Instruct
clients to avoid sudden changes in position by slowly
moving from a lying to a sitting or standing position.
Provide assistance with ambulation.

◯ Urinary retention: Monitor I&O, assess for distention,
administer bethanechol, and catheterize.

◯ Nausea/vomiting: Administer antiemetics,
advise clients to lie still and move slowly, and
eliminate odors.

◯ Sedation: Monitor level of consciousness and take
safety precautions. Sedation usually precedes
respiratory depression.

◯ Respiratory depression: Monitor respiratory rate prior
to and following administration of opioids. Initial
treatment of respiratory depression and sedation is
generally a reduction in opioid dose. If necessary,
administer naloxone to reverse opioid effects.

Adjuvant analgesics
Adjuvant analgesics, or coanalgesics, enhance the effects
of non-opioids, help alleviate other manifestations that
aggravate pain (depression, seizures, inflammation), and
are useful for treating neuropathic pain.

● Adjuvant medications include the following.
◯ Anticonvulsants: carbamazepine
◯ Antianxiety agents: diazepam
◯ Tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline
◯ Antihistamine: hydroxyzine
◯ Glucocorticoids: dexamethasone
◯ Antiemetics: ondansetron
◯ Anesthetics: Ketamine

Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA)
PCA is a medication delivery system that allows clients to
self-administer safe doses of opioids.

● Small, frequent dosing ensures consistent plasma levels.
● Clients have less lag time between identified need and

delivery of medication, which increases their sense
of control and can decrease the amount of medication
they need.

● Morphine and hydromorphone are typical opioids for
PCA delivery.

● Clients should let the nurse know if using the pump
does not control the pain.

● To prevent inadvertent overdosing, the client is the only
person who should push the PCA button.

Other pain management strategies
● Implantable pain pumps
● Medication injections and short-term infusions

◯ Local infusion into a wound
◯ Regional infusion to block a group of nerves
(epidural infusions)

● Stimulation of the brain and spinal cord
● Nerve ablation and cryoablation procedures

Chronic pain interventions
● Strategies specific for relieving chronic pain include the

above interventions, plus:
◯ Administering long-acting or controlled-release
opioid analgesics (including the transdermal route).

◯ Administering analgesics around the clock
rather than PRN.

◯ Referral to accredited pain management center, which
offer a holistic approach to pain management.

◯ Referral to palliative or hospice treatment centers as
indicated, based on the case of pain.

COMPLICATIONS
● Undertreatment of pain is a serious complication and

can lead to increased anxiety with acute pain and
depression with chronic pain. Assess clients for pain
frequently, and intervene as appropriate.

● Sedation, respiratory depression, and coma can occur as
a result of overdosing. Sedation always precedes
respiratory depression.

◯ Identify high-risk clients (older adult clients).
◯ Carefully titrate doses while closely monitoring
respiratory status.

◯ Stop the opioid and give the antagonist naloxone if
respiratory rate is below 8/min and shallow, or the
client is difficult to arouse.

◯ The nurse should closely monitor the client following
administration of naloxone. The duration of the
certain opioids can last longer than the effectiveness
of the naloxone creating a need for additional doses.

◯ Identify the cause of sedation.
◯ Use a sedation scale in addition to a pain rating scale
to assess pain, especially when administering opioids.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 4 PAiN MANAGeMeNT 29

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who is experiencing
mild acute pain after spraining an ankle.
Which of the following analgesics should
the nurse expect to administer?

A. Ketorolac

B. Ketamine

C. Meperidine

d. Methadone

2. A nurse at a clinic is talking with a client who has
cancer and takes extended‑release opioids twice
daily. The client reports an increase in localized,
achy pain over the last few days. How should
the nurse document this increase in pain?

A. Phantom limb pain

B. Mixed pain

C. Breakthrough pain

d. Neuropathic pain

3. A nurse is caring for a client who is receiving
morphine via a patient‑controlled analgesia (PCA)
infusion device after abdominal surgery. Which
of the following client statements indicates that
the client understands how to use the device?

A. “i’ll wait to use the device until
it’s absolutely necessary.”

B. “i’ll be careful about pushing the button
so i don’t get an overdose.”

C. “i should tell the nurse if the pain doesn’t
stop after i use this device.”

d. “i will ask my son to push the dose
button when i am sleeping.”

4. A nurse is discussing pain assessment with a
newly licensed nurse. Which of the following
information should the nurse include?

A. Most clients exaggerate their level of pain.

B. Pain must have an identifiable source
to justify the use of opioids.

C. Objective data are essential in assessing pain.

d. Pain is whatever the client says it is.

5. A nurse is monitoring a client who is receiving
opioid analgesia. Which of the following findings
should the nurse identify as adverse effects of
opioid analgesics? (select all that apply.)

A. Urinary incontinence

B. diarrhea

C. Bradypnea

d. Orthostatic hypotension

e. Nausea

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse on a medical‑surgical unit is reviewing with a
group of newly licensed nurses the various types of pain
the clients on the unit have. Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: Basic Concept to complete this item.

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES: List the four different
types of pain, their definitions, and characteristics.

30 CHAPTER 4 PAiN MANAGeMeNT CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Basic Concept

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES

Acute pain
● definition: Protective, temporary, usually
self‑limiting, resolves with tissue healing

● Physiological responses: Tachycardia, hypertension,
anxiety, diaphoresis, muscle tension

● Behavioral responses: Grimacing, moaning, flinching, guarding

Chronic pain
● definition: Not protective; ongoing or recurs frequently,
lasts longer than 3 months, persists beyond tissue healing,
can be chronic cancer pain or chronic noncancer pain

● Physiological responses: No change in vital signs, depression,
fatigue, decreased level of functioning, disability

Nociceptive pain
● definition: Arises from damage to or inflammation of tissue
other than that of the peripheral and central nervous
systems, is usually throbbing, aching, localized; pain typically
responds to opioids and non‑opioid medications

● Types of nociceptive pain
◯ somatic: in bones, joints, muscles, skin, or connective tissues
◯ Visceral: in internal organs such as the stomach
or intestines, can cause referred pain

Neuropathic pain
● definition: Arises from abnormal or damaged pain nerves (phantom
limb pain, pain below the level of a spinal cord injury, diabetic
neuropathy), usually intense, shooting, burning, or “pins and needles”

● Physiological responses to adjuvant medications (antidepressants,
antispasmodic agents, skeletal muscle relaxants)

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Pharmacological Pain Management

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: Ketorolac is in the NsAid category
and is useful for anti‑inflammatory effects in
managing minor pain following a sprain.

B. Ketamine is an anesthetic agent that is often used as an
adjuvant medication for treating neuropathic pain.

C. Meperidine is not recommended for regular use
due to adverse effects of the medication.

d. Methadone is effective for treating severe pain.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Pharmacological Pain Management

2. A. Phantom limb pain is pain that is perceived to be initiated
from a part of the body that is no longer present.

B. Mixed pain is pain that is difficult to define,
for conditions such as fibromyalgia.

C. CORRECT: Breakthrough pain is an acute exacerbation of
pain beyond the level the client typically experiences.

d. Neuropathic pain sensations are described as
burning, shooting, or pins and needles.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Pharmacological Pain Management

3. A. The client may use the device when he begins to feel pain.
it will help prevent unnecessary worsening of the pain
and more doses of analgesia to provide relief.

B. A feature of PCA devices is the timing control or
lockout mechanism, which enforces a preset minimum
interval between medication doses. This safety feature
is one means of preventing an overdose because
the client cannot self‑administer another dose of
medication until that time interval has passed.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should identify that PCA is a method
of delivering pain medication through an electronic infusion
device that allows the client to self‑administer pain medication
on an as‑needed basis. if the client is not achieving adequate
pain control, he should let the nurse know so that she can
initiate a reevaluation of the client’s pain management plan.

d. The client is the only one who should operate the
PCA pump. in situations where the client is not
able to do so, the provider may authorize a nurse
or a family member to operate the pump.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Pharmacological Pain Management

4. A. A misconception about pain is that clients
exaggerate their pain level.

B. Clients can have pain without being
able to identify the source.

C. Objective data are not always present
when clients have pain.

d. CORRECT: The nurse should identify that pain
is a subjective experience, and the client is the
best source of information about it.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Pharmacological Pain Management

5. A. Urinary retention, not urinary incontinence, is a
common adverse effect of opioid analgesia.

B. Constipation, not diarrhea, is a common
adverse effect of opioid analgesia.

C. CORRECT: respiratory depression, which causes
respiratory rates to drop to dangerously low levels, is
a common adverse effect of opioid analgesia.

d. CORRECT: dizziness or lightheadedness when changing
positions is a common adverse effect of opioid analgesia.

e. CORRECT: Nausea and vomiting are common
adverse effects of opioid analgesia.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Expected Actions/Outcomes

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 5 MeNiNGiTis 31

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 5 Meningitis
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges,
which are the membranes that protect the brain
and spinal cord.

Viral, or aseptic, meningitis is the most common
form of meningitis and commonly resolves
without treatment. Fungal meningitis is common
in clients who have Aids. Bacterial (or septic)
meningitis is a contagious infection with a high
mortality rate. The prognosis depends on how
quickly care is initiated.

There are three vaccines for different pathogens
that cause bacterial meningitis. One is available
for high‑risk populations, such as residential
college students.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine
Ensure infants receive vaccine for bacterial meningitis
on schedule. A series of four doses is recommended
beginning at 2 months of age, with the final dose at 12 to
15 months.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)
Though primarily intended to prevent respiratory
infection, this immunization also decreases the
risk for CNS infections. Vaccinate adults who are
immunocompromised, have a chronic disease, smoke
cigarettes, or live in a long-term care facility. Follow CDC
guidelines for reimmunization. Give one dose to adults
older than 65 who have not previously been immunized
nor have history of disease.

Meningococcal vaccine (MCV4) (Neisseria meningitidis)
Ensure that adolescents receive the vaccine on schedule
and prior to living in a residential setting in college.
Individuals in other communal living conditions (such
as military) also should be immunized. An initial dose is
recommended for healthy children between the ages of 11
to 12, with a booster administered at age 16.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
Viral meningitis

● Viral illnesses (mumps, measles, herpes, arboviruses
[West Nile]).

● There is no vaccine against viral meningitis.

Fungal meningitis: Fulminant fungal-based infection of
the sinuses are from the organism Cryptococcus neoformans.

Bacterial meningitis: Bacterial-based infections (otitis
media, pneumonia, sinusitis) in which the infectious
micro-organism is Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus
pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae.

Immunosuppression

Direct contamination of spinal fluid

Invasive procedures, skull fracture, or
penetrating wound

Environment: Overcrowded living conditions.

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
SUBJECTIVE DATA

● Excruciating, constant headache
● Nuchal rigidity (stiff neck)
● Photophobia (sensitivity to light)

OBJECTIVE DATA: Physical Assessment Findings
● Fever and chills
● Nausea and vomiting
● Altered level of consciousness (confusion, disorientation,

lethargy, difficulty arousing, coma)
● Positive Kernig’s sign (resistance and pain with

extension of the client’s leg from a flexed position)
● Positive Brudzinski’s sign (flexion of the knees and hips

occurring with deliberate flexion of the client’s neck)
● Hyperactive deep tendon reflexes
● Tachycardia
● Seizures
● Red macular rash (meningococcal meningitis)
● Restlessness, irritability

LABOrATOry TesTs
● Urine, throat, nose, and blood culture and sensitivity:

Culture and sensitivity of various body fluids identify
possible infectious bacteria and an appropriate broad-
spectrum antibiotic. Not definitive for meningitis but
can guide initial selection of antimicrobial.

● CBC: Elevated WBC count

CHAPTER 5

32 CHAPTER 5 MeNiNGiTis CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis

● CSF analysis is the most definitive diagnostic procedure.
CSF is collected during a lumbar puncture performed by
the provider.

● Results indicative of meningitis
◯ Appearance of CSF: cloudy (bacterial) or clear (viral)
◯ Elevated WBC
◯ Elevated protein
◯ Decreased glucose (bacterial)
◯ Elevated CSF pressure

● Counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIE) can be done on
CSF to determine whether the infectious agent is viral
or protozoa. This diagnostic study is also indicated if
the client received antibiotics before CSF was collected.

CT scan and MRI: A CT scan or an MRI can be performed
to identify increased intracranial pressure (ICP) and/or
an abscess.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Isolate the client as soon as meningitis is suspected.
● Maintain isolation precautions per hospital policy.

◯ Initiate droplet precautions, which require a private
room. Continue droplet precautions until antibiotics
have been administered for 24 hr and oral and nasal
secretions are no longer infectious. Clients who have
bacterial meningitis might need to remain on droplet
precautions continuously.

◯ Standard precautions are implemented for all clients
who have meningitis.

● Implement fever-reduction measures, such as a cooling
blanket, if necessary.

● Report meningococcal infections to the public
health department.

● Decrease environmental stimuli.
● Provide a quiet environment.
● Minimize exposure to bright light (natural and electric).
● Maintain bed rest with the head of the bed

elevated to 30°.
● Monitor for increased ICP.
● Tell the client to avoid coughing and sneezing, which

increase ICP.
● Maintain client safety, such as seizure precautions.
● Replace fluid and electrolytes as indicated by

laboratory values.
● Older adult clients are at an increased risk for secondary

complications, such as pneumonia.
● Monitor vital signs to assess for septic shock.

MediCATiONs
● Ceftriaxone or cefotaxime in combination with

vancomycin: Antibiotics given until culture and
sensitivity results are available. Effective for
bacterial infections.

● Phenytoin: Anticonvulsants given if ICP increases or
client experiences a seizure.

● Acetaminophen, ibuprofen: Analgesics for headache
and/or fever. Non-opioid to avoid masking changes in
the level of consciousness.

● Ciprofloxacin, rifampin, or ceftriaxone: Prophylactic
antibiotics given to individuals in close contact with
the client.

COMPLICATIONS

Increased ICP

Meningitis can cause ICP to increase, possibly to the point
of brain herniation.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for indications of increasing ICP (decreased

level of consciousness, pupillary changes, impaired
extraocular movements).

● Provide interventions to reduce ICP (positioning with
head of the bed elevation at 30° and avoidance of
coughing and straining).

● Mannitol can be administered via IV.

SIADH

SIADH can be a complication of meningitis due to
abnormal stimulation to the hypothalamic area of
the brain, causing excess secretion of antidiuretic
hormone (vasopressin).

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for manifestations (dilute blood,

concentrated urine).
● Provide interventions, such as the administration of

demeclocycline and restriction of fluid.
● Monitor the client’s weight daily.

Septic emboli
● Septic emboli can form during meningitis and travel to

other parts of the body, particularly the hands, but can
occur in the feet as well.

● Development of gangrene can necessitate an amputation.
● Septic emboli can lead to disseminated intravascular

coagulation or stroke.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor circulatory status of extremities and

coagulation studies.
● Report any alterations immediately to the provider.

Online Image: Gangrenous Toe

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 5 MeNiNGiTis 33

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is assessing a client who reports severe
headache and a stiff neck. The nurse’s assessment
reveals positive Kernig’s and Brudzinski’s signs. Which
of the following actions should the nurse perform first?

A. Administer antibiotics.

B. implement droplet precautions.

C. initiate iV access.

d. decrease bright lights.

2. A nurse is assessing for the presence of Brudzinski’s
sign in a client who has suspected meningitis. Which
of the following actions should the nurse take when
performing this technique? (select all that apply.)

A. Place client in supine position.

B. Flex client’s hip and knee.

C. Place hands behind the client’s neck.

d. Bend client’s head toward chest.

e. straighten the client’s flexed leg at the knee.

3. A nurse is planning care for a client who has
meningitis and is at risk for increased intracranial
pressure (iCP). Which of the following actions should
the nurse plan to take? (select all that apply.)

A. implement seizure precautions.

B. Perform neurologic checks four times a day.

C. Administer morphine for the report
of neck and generalized pain.

d. Turn off room lights and television.

e. Monitor for impaired extraocular movements.

F. encourage the client to cough frequently.

4. A nurse is reviewing the use of the meningococcal
vaccine (MCV4) for the prevention of meningitis
with a newly licensed nurse. Which of the following
information should the nurse include?

A. The vaccine is indicated to reduce
the risk of respiratory infection.

B. The vaccine is administered in
a series of four doses.

C. The vaccine is recommended for
adolescents before starting college.

d. The vaccine is initially given at 2 months of age.

5. A nurse is planning care for a client who has bacterial
meningitis. Which of the following actions should the
nurse include in the plan of care? (select all that apply.)

A. Monitor for bradycardia.

B. Provide an emesis basin at the bedside.

C. Administer antipyretic medication.

d. Perform a skin assessment.

e. Keep the head of the bed flat.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is reviewing the plan of care for a client who
has bacterial meningitis. Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: system disorder to complete this item.

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS):
define bacterial meningitis.

MEDICATIONS: identify three medications, their
actions, and the reason for administration.

COMPLICATIONS: describe two complications of meningitis.

34 CHAPTER 5 MeNiNGiTis CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. The nurse should administer antibiotics to
stop the micro‑organisms from multiplying,
but this is not the priority action.

B. CORRECT: When using the urgent vs. nonurgent approach
to care, the nurse determines the priority action is to
initiate droplet precautions when meningitis is suspected
to prevent spread of the disease to others.

C. The nurse should initiate iV access to allow iV medication
and fluid administration, but this is not the priority action.

d. The nurse should decrease bright lights because of the
client’s sensitivity to light, but this is not the priority action.

NCLEX® Connection: Safety and Infection Control, Standard
Precautions/Transmission‑Based Precautions/Surgical Asepsis

2. A. CORRECT: The nurse should place the client in supine
position when assessing for Brudzinski’s sign.

B. The nurse should flex the client’s hip and knee
when assessing for Kernig’s sign.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should place her hands behind
the client’s neck when assessing for Brudzinski’s
sign, in order to flex the client’s neck.

d. CORRECT: The nurse should bend the client’s head
toward the chest when assessing for Brudzinski’s sign.

e. The nurse should straighten the client’s flexed leg
at the knee when assessing for Kernig’s sign.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

3. A. CORRECT: The client is at risk for seizures due to possible
increased iCP. Therefore, the nurse should implement seizure
precautions to reduce the client’s risk for injury.

B. The nurse should perform neurologic checks at least
every 2 hr for a client who is at risk for increased iCP.

C. The nurse should avoid administering opioids to a
client who is at risk for increased iCP. Opioids can mask
changes in the client’s level of consciousness.

d. CORRECT: The nurse should turn off room lights and the
television because they can increase neuron stimulation and
cause a seizure when a client is at risk for increased iCP.

e. CORRECT: The nurse should monitor for impaired extraocular
movements because this finding can indicate increased iCP.

F. The nurse should instruct the client to avoid coughing
because this action can cause increased iCP.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

4. A. The pneumococcal vaccine is primarily indicated to
reduce the risk of respiratory infection. However,
it also reduces the risk of CNs infection.

B. The HiB vaccine is administered to infants
in a series of four doses.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should identify that the
meningococcal vaccine is recommended for adolescents
prior to starting college due to the increased risk
for infection in communal living facilities.

d. The initial dose of the HiB vaccine is recommended
for infants at 2 months of age.

NCLEX® Connection: Safety and Infection Control, Standard
Precautions/Transmission‑Based Precautions/Surgical Asepsis

5. A. The nurse should plan to monitor for tachycardia
when a client has meningitis.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should provide an emesis
basin at the bedside because the client who has
meningitis can have nausea and vomiting.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should plan to administer antipyretic
medication for fever to a client who has meningitis.

d. CORRECT: The nurse should perform a skin assessment
to determine whether the client has a red macular
rash associated with meningococcal meningitis.

e. The nurse should elevate the head of the client’s
bed 30° to promote venous drainage from
the head and prevent increased iCP.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS): Bacterial meningitis is a
bacterial infection that causes an inflammation of the meninges,
the membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord.

MEDICATIONS
● Ceftriaxone with vancocin: antibiotics
administered to treat the infection.

● Acetaminophen: an antipyretic used to treat a fever.
● Phenytoin: an anticonvulsant given to prevent the client
from experiencing a seizure when at risk of iCP.

COMPLICATIONS
● increased iCP, which can lead to seizures, coma, and death.
● syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (siAdH),
which is due to pressure from inflammation abnormally
stimulating the hypothalamus, causing increased
secretion of antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin).

● septic emboli can occur as a result of meningitis.
This complication can lead to disseminated
intravascular coagulation, stroke, or gangrene.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Illness
Management

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 6 seizUres ANd ePiLePsy 35

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 6 Seizures and
Epilepsy

seizures are an abrupt, abnormal, excessive, and
uncontrolled electrical discharge of neurons
within the brain that can cause alterations in the
level of consciousness and/or changes in motor
and sensory ability and/or behavior.

epilepsy is the term used to define chronic
recurring abnormal brain electrical activity
resulting in two or more seizures. seizures
resulting from identifiable causes, such
as substance withdrawal or fever, are not
considered epilepsy.

The international Classification of epileptic
seizures uses three broad categories to describe
seizures: generalized, partial, and unclassified.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● Genetic predisposition: Absence seizures are more

common in children and tend to occur in families.
● Acute febrile state: Particularly among infants and

children younger than 2 years old.
● Head trauma: Can be early or late onset (up to
9 months), and incidence is increased when the head
trauma includes a skull fracture.

● Cerebral edema: Especially when it occurs acutely and
seizure activity tends to disappear when the edema is
successfully treated.

● Abrupt cessation of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs): As a
rebound activity.

● Infection: If intracranial, a result of increased
intracranial pressure; if systemic, a result of the
persistent febrile state.

● Metabolic disorder: A result of insufficient or excessive
chemicals within the brain, such as occurring with
hypoglycemia or hyponatremia.

● Exposure to toxins: Especially those associated with
pesticides, carbon monoxide, and lead poisoning.

● Stroke: Most likely to occur within the first
24 hr following a stroke as a result of increased
intracranial pressure.

● Heart disease: Common cause of new-onset seizures in
older adults.

● Brain tumor: If benign, seizures caused by the increased
bulk associated with the tumor; if malignant, associated
with the ability of the brain tissue to function.

● Hypoxia: Results in a decreased oxygen level of the
brain; necessary for neuronal activity.

● Acute substance withdrawal: Dehydration accompanies
withdrawal, creating a toxic level of the substance
in the body.

● Fluid and electrolyte imbalances: Results in abnormal
levels of nutrients required for neuronal function.

● With older adult clients, increased seizure incidence is
associated with cerebrovascular diseases.

TRIGGERING FACTORS
● Increased physical activity
● Excessive stress
● Hyperventilation
● Overwhelming fatigue
● Acute alcohol ingestion
● Excessive caffeine intake
● Exposure to flashing lights
● Substances such as cocaine, aerosols, and inhaled

glue products

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
Generalized seizures
Generalized seizure involves both cerebral hemispheres.
Generalized seizures can begin with an aura (alteration in
vision, smell, hearing, or emotional feeling).
Clients can experience five types of generalized seizures.

● Tonic-clonic seizure
◯ A tonic-clonic seizure begins for only a few seconds
with a tonic episode (stiffening of muscles) and loss
of consciousness.

◯ A 1- to 2-min clonic episode (rhythmic jerking of the
extremities) follows the tonic episode.

◯ Breathing can stop during the tonic phase and become
irregular during the clonic phase.

◯ Cyanosis can accompany breathing irregularities.
◯ Biting of the cheek or tongue can occur during
clonic phase.

◯ Incontinence can also accompany a
tonic-clonic seizure.

◯ During the postictal phase, a period of confusion and
sleepiness follows the seizure.

● Tonic seizure
◯ Only the tonic phase is experienced.
◯ Clients suddenly lose consciousness and experience
sudden increased muscle tone, loss of consciousness,
and autonomic manifestations (arrhythmia, apnea,
vomiting, incontinence, salivation).

◯ Tonic seizures generally last less than 30 seconds, but
some sources indicate they can last several minutes.

● Clonic seizure
◯ Only the clonic phase is experienced.
◯ The seizure lasts several minutes.
◯ During this type of seizure, the muscles contract
and relax.

CHAPTER 6

36 CHAPTER 6 seizUres ANd ePiLePsy CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

● Myoclonic seizure
◯ Myoclonic seizures consist of brief jerking or
stiffening of the extremities, which can be
symmetrical or asymmetrical.

◯ This type of seizure lasts for seconds.
● Atonic or akinetic seizure

◯ Atonic or akinetic seizures are characterized by a few
seconds in which muscle tone is lost.

◯ The seizure is followed by a period of confusion.
◯ The loss of muscle tone frequently results in falling.

Partial or focal/local seizure
Partial or focal/local seizure involves only one cerebral
hemisphere.
Clients can experience two types of partial seizures.

● Complex partial seizure
◯ Complex partial seizures have associated automatisms
(behaviors that the client is unaware of, such as lip
smacking or picking at clothes).

◯ The seizure can cause a loss of consciousness or
blackout for several minutes.

◯ Amnesia can occur immediately prior to and after
the seizure.

● Simple partial seizure
◯ Consciousness is maintained throughout simple

partial seizures.
◯ Seizure activity can consist of unusual sensations,
a sense of déjà vu, autonomic abnormalities such
as changes in heart rate and abnormal flushing,
unilateral abnormal extremity movements, pain, or
offensive smell.

Unclassified or idiopathic seizures
Unclassified or idiopathic seizures do not fit into other
categories. These types of seizures account for half of all
seizure activity and occur for no known reason.

LABOrATOry TesTs
Tests should include alcohol and illicit substance levels,
HIV testing, and, if suspected, screen for the presence of
excessive toxins.

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
● Electroencephalogram (EEG) records electrical activity

and can identify the origin of seizure activity.
● Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed

tomography (CT) imaging/computed axial tomography
(CAT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan,
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis, and skull x-ray can be
used to identify or rule out potential causes of seizures.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
During a seizure

● Protect the client’s privacy and the client from injury
(move furniture away, hold head in lap if on the floor).

● Position the client to provide a patent airway.
● Be prepared to suction oral secretions.
● Turn the client to the side to decrease the risk

of aspiration.
● Loosen restrictive clothing.
● Do not attempt to restrain the client.
● Do not attempt to open the jaw or insert airway during

seizure activity (can damage teeth, lips, and tongue).
● Do not use padded tongue blades.
● Document onset and duration of seizure and findings

(level of consciousness, apnea, cyanosis, motor activity,
incontinence) prior to, during, and following the seizure.

After a seizure
● This is the postictal phase of the seizure episode.
● Maintain the client in a side-lying position to prevent

aspiration and to facilitate drainage of oral secretions.
● Check vital signs.
● Assess for injuries.
● Perform neurological checks.
● Allow the client to rest if necessary.
● Reorient and calm the client, who might be agitated

or confused.
● Determine if client experienced an aura, which can

indicate the origin of seizure in the brain.
● Try to determine possible trigger (such as fatigue).

MediCATiONs
● Administer prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), such

as phenytoin.
● Initial goal is to control seizure activity using one

medication. If the chosen medication is not effective,
either the dose is increased, or another medication is
added or substituted.

● Therapeutic levels are determined by blood tests. These
are performed on a routine schedule to ensure
compliance and effectiveness of the medication.

● Allergic reactions to these medications are rare, yet can
occur immediately or late in therapy. If the client is
allergic, another medication may be substituted.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Take medications at the same time every day to enhance

effectiveness.
● The potential to develop tolerance to antiseizure

medications over time is called drug decline. This can
lead to an increase in seizures. Some clients develop
sensitivity with age. If drug decline or sensitivity occurs,
clients will need blood levels drawn frequently and
medication dosages adjusted.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 6 seizUres ANd ePiLePsy 37

● Be aware of adverse effects and interactions with food or
other medications. These are specific to the medication.

● Some antiepileptic medications cause oral gum
overgrowth. Routine oral hygiene and dental visits can
minimize this adverse effect.

● When using phenytoin, specific instructions should
include avoidance of oral contraceptives, as this
medication decreases their effectiveness. Warfarin
should also not be given with this medication, as
phenytoin can decrease absorption and increase
metabolism of oral anticoagulants.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Initiate a social services referral to aid in obtaining

medications if cost will affect the client’s ability to
adhere to the medication routine.

● If employment is affected by seizure activity,
refer to social agencies for financial support and
vocational evaluation.

● If seizure activity affects a school-age child’s
performance in the classroom, this condition should
be reported to the disability office, which can develop
specialized interventions or facilitate an Individualized
Education Program (IEP).

● Discrimination on the basis of epilepsy is illegal in
all states.

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres
Vagal nerve stimulation and conventional surgical
procedures can be helpful for clients whose seizures are
not controlled with medication therapy.

Vagal nerve stimulator
● Vagal nerve stimulation is indicated for treatment of
partial seizures.

● The vagal nerve stimulator is a device implanted into
the left chest wall and connected to an electrode placed
on the left vagus nerve.

● This procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
● The device is then programmed to administer
intermittent stimulation of the brain via stimulation of
the vagal nerve, at a rate specific to the client’s needs.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● In addition to routine stimulation, the client may
initiate vagal nerve stimulation by holding a magnet
over the implantable device, at the onset of seizure
activity. This either aborts the seizure, or lessens
its severity.

● Avoid diagnostic procedures, such as MRI, ultrasound
diathermy, and the use of microwave ovens and
shortwave radios.

Conventional surgical procedures
● Conventional surgical procedures are available for

clients who experience partial or generalized seizures.
● Prior to surgery, AEDs are discontinued and the specific

area of the seizure activity is identified through the use
of EEG monitoring. Surgically implanted electrodes can
also be used.

● The affected area of the brain can be excised if it is
determined that vital brain function will not be affected.

◯ An intracarotid amobarbital (Wada) test can help
determine if language or memory would be affected.

◯ Neuropsychological testing can help determine if
visuospatial function, memory, language, or cognitive
function would be affected.

● Partial corpus callosotomy can be used for clients who
are not candidates for conventional surgical procedures.
The procedure resects the corpus callosum, preventing
neuronal discharges across hemispheres and reduces the
severity and frequency of seizures.

● These procedures have associated morbidities, including
infection, loss of cerebral function, and a lack of success
in preventing seizures.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Provide client education regarding seizure management.

◯ Importance of monitoring AED levels and maintaining
therapeutic medication levels

◯ Possible medication interactions (decreased
effectiveness of oral contraceptives)

● Encourage the client to wear a medical identification tag
at all times.

● Instruct clients who have a history of seizures to
research state driving laws. Some states restrict or limit
driving for individuals who have a recent history
of seizures.

6.1 Vagal nerve stimulator

38 CHAPTER 6 seizUres ANd ePiLePsy CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

COMPLICATIONS

Status epilepticus

This is repeated seizure activity within a 30-min time
frame or a single prolonged seizure lasting more than
5 min. The complications associated with this condition
are related to decreased oxygen levels, inability of the
brain to return to normal functioning, and continued
assault on neuronal tissue. This acute condition requires
immediate treatment to prevent permanent loss of
brain function and death.
The usual causes are substance withdrawal, sudden
withdrawal from AEDs, head injury, cerebral edema,
infection, and metabolic disturbances.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Maintain an airway, provide oxygen, establish IV access,

perform ECG monitoring, and monitor pulse oximetry
and ABG results.

● Administer diazepam or lorazepam IV push followed by
IV phenytoin or fosphenytoin.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is planning care for a client who is experiencing
status epilepticus. What concepts should the nurse
include in the plan of care? Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: Basic Concept to complete this item.

RELATED CONTENT: define the condition.

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES: describe four possible causes.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: describe five
actions the nurse should plan to take.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is assessing a client who has a seizure
disorder. The client tells the nurse, “i am about
to have a seizure.” Which of the following actions
should the nurse implement? (select all that apply.)

A. Provide privacy.

B. ease the client to the floor if standing.

C. Move furniture away from the client.

d. Loosen the client’s clothing.

e. Protect the client’s head with padding.

F. restrain the client.

2. A nurse is caring for a client who just experienced
a generalized seizure. Which of the following
actions should the nurse perform first?

A. Keep the client in a side‑lying position.

B. document the duration of the seizure.

C. reorient the client to the environment.

d. Provide client hygiene.

3. A nurse is providing discharge instructions to a client
who has a prescription for phenytoin. Which of the
following information should the nurse include?

A. Consider taking an antacid when
on this medication.

B. Watch for receding gums when
taking the medication.

C. Take the medication at the same time every day.

d. Provide a urine sample to determine
therapeutic levels of the medication.

4. A nurse is reviewing trigger factors that can
cause seizures with a client who has a new
diagnosis of generalized seizures. Which of
the following information should the nurse
include in this review? (select all that apply.)

A. Avoid overwhelming fatigue.

B. remove caffeinated products from the diet.

C. Limit looking at flashing lights.

d. Perform aerobic exercise.

e. Limit episodes of hypoventilation.

F. Use of aerosol hairspray is recommended.

5. A nurse is completing discharge teaching to a client
who has seizures and received a vagal nerve stimulator
to decrease seizure activity. Which of the following
statements should the nurse include in the teaching?

A. “it is safe to use microwaves that
are 1,200 watts or less.” .

B. “you should avoid the use of CT
scans with contrast.”.

C. “you should place a magnet over the implantable
device when you feel an aura occurring.”

d. “it is recommended that you use ultrasound
diathermy for pain management.”

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 6 seizUres ANd ePiLePsy 39

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: The nurse should implement privacy
to minimize the client’s embarrassment.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should ease the client to
the floor to prevent falling and injury.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should move the furniture
away from the client to prevent injury.

d. CORRECT: The nurse should loosen the client’s
clothing to minimize restriction of movement.

e. CORRECT: The nurse should protect the client’s head
from injury by placing the client’s head in her lap or using
a pillow or blanket under the head during a seizure.

F. The nurse should not restrain the client. restraint can
increase the client’s risk for injury or more seizure activity.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

2. A. CORRECT: The greatest risk to the client is aspiration during
the postictal phase. Therefore, the priority intervention is
to keep the client in a side‑lying position so secretions can
drain from the mouth keeping the airway patent.

B. The nurse should document the duration of the
seizure in the client’s medical record, but there is
another action that the nurse should take first.

C. The nurse should reorient the client to the environment
because the client can feel confused, but there is
another action that the nurse should take first.

d. The nurse should provide client hygiene if the client
experienced incontinence during the seizure, but there
is another action that the nurse should take first.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

3. A. The nurse does not need to instruct the client to
consider taking an antacid, because phenytoin does
not cause any gastrointestinal adverse effects.

B. The nurse should instruct the client that phenytoin
causes overgrowth of the gums.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should instruct the
client to take phenytoin at the same time
every day to enhance effectiveness.

d. The nurse should instruct the client to have periodic blood
tests to determine the therapeutic level of phenytoin.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

4. A. CORRECT: The nurse should instruct the client to avoid
overwhelming fatigue, which can trigger a seizure by
stimulating abnormal electrical neuron activity.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should instruct the client to remove
caffeinated products from the diet, which can trigger a
seizure by stimulating abnormal electrical neuron activity.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should instruct the client to refrain
from looking at flashing lights, which can trigger a seizure
by stimulating abnormal electrical neuron activity.

d. The nurse should instruct the client to avoid vigorous physical
activity, which can help to avoid triggering a seizure.

e. The nurse should instruct the client to limit excess
hyperventilation, which can trigger a seizure by
stimulating abnormal electrical neuron activity.

F. The nurse should instruct the client to avoid using
aerosol hairspray, which can trigger a seizure by
stimulating abnormal electrical neuron activity.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

5. A. The nurse should instruct the client to avoid using
a microwave, regardless of wattage, which can
affect the function of the stimulator.

B. The nurse should instruct the client to avoid Mris,
which can affect the function of the stimulator.

C. CORRECT: The nurse should instruct the client to
hold a magnet over the implantable device when an
aura occurs so as to decrease seizure activity.

d. The nurse should instruct the client to avoid the use of
ultrasound diathermy for pain management because
of its effect on the function of the stimulator.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Basic Concept

RELATED CONTENT: status epilepticus is repeated
seizure activity within a 30‑min time frame or a single
prolonged seizure lasting more than 5 min.

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES
● substance withdrawal
● Withdrawal from antiepileptic medication
● infection
● Head injury
● Cerebral edema
● Metabolic disturbances

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● Maintain a patent airway.
● Perform eCG monitoring.
● review ABG results.
● establish iV access.
● Provide oxygen.
● Monitor pulse oximetry.
● Administer lorazepam or diazepam.
● Administer phenytoin or fosphenytoin.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Alterations in
Body Systems

40 CHAPTER 6 seizUres ANd ePiLePsy CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 7 PArKiNsON’s diseAse 41

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 7 Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (Pd) is a progressively
debilitating disease that grossly affects motor
function. it is characterized by four primary
findings: tremor, muscle rigidity, bradykinesia
(slow movement), and postural instability. These
findings occur due to overstimulation of the
basal ganglia by acetylcholine.

The secretion of dopamine and acetylcholine
in the body produce inhibitory and excitatory
effects on the muscles respectively.

Overstimulation of the basal ganglia by
acetylcholine occurs because degeneration of the
substantia nigra results in decreased dopamine
production. This allows acetylcholine to dominate,
making smooth, controlled movements difficult.

Treatment of Pd focuses on increasing the
amount of dopamine or decreasing the amount
of acetylcholine in a client’s brain.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● Onset of findings between age 40 to 70
● More common in males
● Genetic predisposition
● Exposure to environmental toxins and chemical solvents
● Chronic use of antipsychotic medication

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Report of fatigue
● Report of decreased manual dexterity over time

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Stooped posture
● Slow, shuffling, and propulsive gait
● Slow, monotonous speech
● Tremors/pill-rolling tremor of the fingers
● Muscle rigidity (rhythmic interruption,

mildly restrictive, total resistance to movement)
● Bradykinesia/akinesia
● Masklike expression
● Autonomic findings (orthostatic hypotension,

flushing, diaphoresis)
● Difficulty chewing and swallowing

◯ Drooling
◯ Dysarthria
◯ Progressive difficulty with ADLs
◯ Mood swings
◯ Cognitive impairment (dementia)

LABOrATOry TesTs
● There are no definitive diagnostic procedures.
● Diagnosis is made based on manifestations, their

progression, and by ruling out other diseases. (7.1)

CHAPTER 7 Online Video: Assessment Findings with
Parkinson’s Disease

7.1 The five stages of Parkinson’s disease involvement

As Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease, there are five stages of involvement.

STAGE I: Unilateral
shaking or tremor
of one limb.

STAGE II: Bilateral limb
involvement occurs,
making walking and
balance difficult.
Masklike face; slow,
shuffling gait.

STAGE III: Physical
movements slow
down significantly,
affecting walking more.
Postural instability.

STAGE IV: Tremors
can decrease but
akinesia and rigidity
make day‑to‑day
tasks difficult.

STAGE V: Client
unable to stand or
walk, is dependent
for all care, and might
exhibit dementia.

42 CHAPTER 7 PArKiNsON’s diseAse CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Administer medications at prescribed times. Monitor

medication effectiveness, and make recommendations for
changes in dosage and time of administration to provide
best coverage.

● Monitor swallowing, and maintain adequate nutrition and
weight. Consult speech and language therapist to assess
swallowing if the client demonstrates a risk for choking.

◯ Consult the client’s dietitian for appropriate diet, which
often includes semisolid foods and thickened liquids.

◯ Document the client’s weight at least weekly.
◯ Keep a diet intake log.
◯ Encourage fluids and document intake.
◯ Provide smaller, more frequent meals.
◯ Sit the client upright to eat or drink.
◯ Consult with an occupational therapist for adaptive
eating devices.

◯ Evaluate the need for high-calorie, high-protein
supplements to maintain the client’s weight.

● Maintain client mobility for as long as possible.
◯ Encourage exercise, such as yoga (can also improve
mental status).

◯ Encourage use of assistive devices as
disease progresses.

◯ Encourage range-of-motion (ROM) exercises.
◯ Teach the client to stop occasionally when walking to
slow down speed and reduce risk for injury.

◯ Pace activities by providing rest periods.
◯ Assist with ADLs as needed (hygiene, dressing).

● Promote client communication for as long as possible.
◯ Teach the client facial muscle strengthening exercises.
◯ Encourage the client to speak slowly and to

pause frequently.
◯ Use alternate forms of communication as appropriate.
◯ Refer the client to a speech-language pathologist.

● Monitor mental and cognitive status.
◯ Observe for manifestations of depression
and dementia.

◯ Provide a safe environment (no throw rugs, encourage
the use of an electric razor).

◯ Assess personal and family coping with the client’s
chronic, degenerative disease.

◯ Provide a list of community resources (support
groups) to the client and family.

◯ Refer the client to a social worker or case manager as
condition advances (financial issues, long-term home
care, and respite care).

MediCATiONs
● Can take several weeks of use before improvement of

manifestations is seen.
● While the client is taking a combination of medications,

maintenance of therapeutic medication levels is
necessary for adequate control.

Dopaminergics
● When given orally, medications such as levodopa

are converted to dopamine in the brain, increasing
dopamine levels in the basal ganglia.

● Dopaminergics may be combined with carbidopa to
decrease peripheral metabolism of levodopa, requiring a
smaller dose to make the same amount available to the
brain. Adverse effects are subsequently less.

● Due to medication tolerance and metabolism, the
dosage, form of medication, and administration times
must be adjusted to avoid periods of poor mobility.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for the “wearing-off”
phenomenon and dyskinesias (problems with movement),
which can indicate the need to adjust the dosage or time
of administration or the need for a medication holiday.

Dopamine agonists

Dopamine agonists (bromocriptine, ropinirole,
pramipexole) activate release of dopamine. May be used in
conjunction with a dopaminergic for better results.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for orthostatic hypotension,
dyskinesias, and hallucinations.

Anticholinergics

Anticholinergics, such as benztropine and trihexyphenidyl,
help control tremors and rigidity.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for anticholinergic
effects (dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention,
acute confusion).

Catechol O‑methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors

COMT inhibitors, such as entacapone, decrease the
breakdown of levodopa, making more available to the
brain as dopamine. Can be used in conjunction with a
dopaminergic and dopamine agonist for better results.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for dyskinesia/hyperkinesia when used

with levodopa.
● Assess for diarrhea.
● Dark urine is a normal finding.

Monoamine oxidase type B (MAO‑B) inhibitors

MAO-B inhibitors, such as selegiline and rasagiline,
inhibit monoamine oxidase type B activity and
increase dopamine levels. They reduce the wearing-off
phenomenon when administered concurrently
with levodopa.

NURSING ACTIONS: Severe reactions can occur
when these medications are administered with
sympathomimetics, meperidine, and fluoxetine.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Avoid foods high in tyramine, which
can cause hypertensive crisis.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 7 PArKiNsON’s diseAse 43

Antivirals

Antivirals, such as amantadine, stimulate release of
dopamine and prevent its reuptake.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for discoloration of the skin that subsides when

amantadine is discontinued.
● Client might experience anxiety, confusion, and

anticholinergic effects.

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres

Stereotactic pallidotomy or thalamotomy
● Strict eligibility criteria generally includes those who

have not responded to other therapies.
● Stereotactic pallidotomy and thalamotomy causes the

destruction of a small portion of the brain within the
globus pallidus or thalamus through the use of brain
imaging and electrical stimulation.

● Target area is identified with a CT scan or an MRI.
● Mild electrical stimulation is provided through a burr

hole to a target area.
● Client is assessed for a decrease in tremors and

muscle rigidity.
● When a decrease is elicited, a temporary lesion is

formed and the client is reassessed.
● If symptomatic relief is demonstrated (such as

alleviation of tremors and rigidity), a permanent
lesion is made.

NURSING ACTIONS: Assess for a neurologic impairment
and brain hemorrhage postoperatively.

Deep brain stimulation
● An electrode is implanted in the thalamus.
● A current is delivered through a small pulse generator

implanted under the skin of the upper chest. Electrical
stimulation from deep rain stimulation impulses
decreases tremors and involuntary movements, and can
decrease medications required to control PD.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for infection, brain
hemorrhage, or stroke-like findings.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Because PD is a degenerative neurologic disorder,

long-term treatment and care must be accommodated.
● During the later stages of the disorder, the client needs

referrals to and support from disciplines such as speech
therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists,
and social service/case management.

COMPLICATIONS

Aspiration pneumonia

As PD advances in severity, alterations in chewing and
swallowing worsen, increasing the risk for aspiration.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use swallowing precautions to decrease the risk for

aspiration.
● Develop an individual dietary plan based on the speech

therapist’s recommendations.
● Have a nurse in attendance when the client is eating.
● Encourage the client to eat slowly and chew thoroughly

before swallowing.
● Feed the client in an upright position and have suction

equipment on standby.
● Evaluate need for enteral feedings to maintain weight

and prevent aspiration as PD progresses.

Altered cognition (dementia, memory deficits)

Clients in advanced stages of PD can exhibit altered
cognition in the form of dementia and memory loss.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Acknowledge the client’s feelings.
● Provide for a safe environment.
● Develop a comprehensive plan of care with the family,

client, and interprofessional team.

44 CHAPTER 7 PArKiNsON’s diseAse CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who displays
manifestations of stage iii Parkinson’s disease. Which
of the following actions should the nurse include?

A. recommend a community support group.

B. integrate a daily exercise routine.

C. Provide a walker for ambulation.

d. Perform AdLs for the client.

2. A nurse is developing a plan of care for the
nutritional needs of a client who has stage iV
Parkinson’s disease. Which of the following actions
should the nurse include? (select all that apply.)

A. Provide three large balanced meals daily.

B. record diet and fluid intake daily.

C. document weight every other week.

d. Offer cold fluids such as milkshakes.

e. Offer nutritional supplements between meals.

3. A nurse is reinforcing teaching with a client
who has Parkinson’s disease and has a new
prescription for bromocriptine. Which of the
following instructions should the nurse include?

A. rise slowly when standing.

B. expect urine to become dark‑colored.

C. Avoid foods containing tyramine.

d. report any skin discoloration.

4. A nurse is assessing a client for manifestations
of Parkinson’s disease. Which of the following
are expected findings? (select all that apply.)

A. decreased vision

B. Pill‑rolling tremor of the fingers

C. shuffling gait

d. drooling

e. Bilateral ankle edema

F. Lack of facial expression

5. A nurse is caring for a client who has Parkinson’s
disease and is starting to display bradykinesia. Which
of the following is an appropriate action by the nurse?

A. Teach the client to walk more
quickly when ambulating.

B. Complete passive range‑of‑motion exercises daily.

C. Place the client on a low‑protein, low‑calorie diet.

d. Give the client extra time to perform activities.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is preparing a plan of care for a client who has a
new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. What should the nurse
include in the plan of care? Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: system disorder to complete this item.

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS):
define Parkinson’s disease.

COMPLICATIONS: identify four.

NURSING CARE: describe six nursing actions.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 7 PArKiNsON’s diseAse 45

Application Exercises Key

1. A. The client/family should be involved in a community
support group at the onset of the disease process
to enhance coping mechanisms.

B. The client should perform daily exercises with the
onset of the disease process to promote mobility
and independence for as long as possible.

C. CORRECT: The client should use a walker for ambulation
in stage iii of Parkinson’s disease because movement
slows down significantly and gait disturbances occur.

d. The client loses the ability to perform AdLs during stage
V of Parkinson’s disease and is dependent on others for
care at that time. during earlier stages, the client should
be encouraged to remain as independent as possible.

NCLEX® Connection: Safety and Infection Control,
Accident/Error/Injury Prevention

2. A. Plan to provide small, frequent meals during the
day to maintain adequate nutrition.

B. CORRECT: record the client’s diet and fluid
intake daily to assess for dietary needs and to
maintain adequate nutrition and hydration.

C. document the client’s weight weekly to identify weight
loss and intervene to maintain the client’s weight.

d. CORRECT: Provide cold fluids such as milkshakes. Thick
and cold fluids are tolerated easier by the client.

e. CORRECT: Offer nutritional supplements between
meals to maintain the client’s weight.

NCLEX® Connection: Basic Care and Comfort,
Nutrition and Oral Hydration

3. A. CORRECT: Orthostatic hypotension is a common adverse
effect of bromocriptine, a dopamine receptor agonist.
Therefore, rising slowly when standing up will decrease
the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness.

B. The client should expect urine to turn dark when taking
entacapone, a COMT inhibitor. dark urine is not an
expected finding when taking bromocriptine.

C. The client should avoid tyramine in the diet
when taking selegiline, a monoamine type B
inhibitor. However, bromocriptine does not
interact with foods that contain tyramine.

d. skin discoloration is an adverse effect of
amantadine, an anti‑viral medication. However, it
is not an adverse effect of bromocriptine.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

4. A. decreased vision is not an expected finding
in a client who has Pd.

B. CORRECT: The client who has Pd can manifest
pill‑rolling tremors of the fingers due to
overstimulation of the basal ganglia by acetylcholine,
making controlled movement difficult.

C. CORRECT: The client who has Pd can manifest shuffling
gait because of overstimulation of the basal ganglia by
acetylcholine, making controlled movement difficult.

d. CORRECT: The client who has Pd can manifest
drooling because of overstimulation of the basal
ganglia by acetylcholine, making the controlled
movement of swallowing secretions difficult.

e. Bilateral ankle edema is not an expected finding in
a client who has Pd, but can be an adverse effect
of certain medications used for treatment.

F. CORRECT: The client who has Pd can manifest a lack of facial
expressions due to overstimulation of the basal ganglia by
acetylcholine, making controlled movement difficult.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

5. A. The client who has Pd develops a propulsive gait and
tends to walk increasingly rapidly. The client should be
reminded to stop occasionally when walking to prevent
a propulsive gait and decrease the risk for falls.

B. encourage active, not passive, range‑of‑motion
exercises to promote mobility in the client who
has Pd and is displaying bradykinesia.

C. The client who has Pd often requires high‑calorie,
high‑protein supplements between meals in
order to maintain adequate weight.

d. CORRECT: Bradykinesia is abnormally slowed
movement and is seen in clients who have Pd. The
client should be given extra time to perform activities
and should be encouraged to remain active.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
System Specific Assessments

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS): Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating condition that progresses to complete dependent care. The disease involves
a decrease in dopamine production and an increase in secretion of acetylcholine, causing resting tremor, slowed movement, and muscular rigidity.

COMPLICATIONS
● Aspiration due to pharyngeal muscle involvement making swallowing difficult
● Orthostatic hypotension, slow movement, and muscle rigidity
● Change in speech pattern: slow, monotonous speech
● Altered emotional changes that can include depression and fear

NURSING CARE
● Add thickener to liquids to prevent aspiration.
● Consult with a dietitian about appropriate diet.
● encourage periods of rest between activities.
● Allow adequate time to rise slowly from a sitting to standing position.
● encourage slower speech when expressing thoughts.
● Observe for manifestations of depression and dementia.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Illness Management

46 CHAPTER 7 PArKiNsON’s diseAse CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 8 ALzHeiMer’s diseAse 47

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 8 Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease (Ad) is a nonreversible type
of dementia that progressively develops over
many years. A framework made up of seven
stages has been designed to categorize the
disease and its manifestations. The framework is
based on three general stages: early stage, mid
stage, and late stage.

dementia is defined as multiple cognitive
deficits that impair memory and can affect
language, motor skills, and/or abstract thinking.
The percentage of dementia attributable to Ad
ranges from 60% to 90%.

The mean duration of survival after diagnosis is
approximately 10 years, but some people can
live with the disease for up to 20 years.

Ad is most likely to occur in clients in their 60s
and 70s. However, it can be diagnosed as early as
40. Age, sex, and genetics, are known risk factors
for Ad, which usually occurs after the age of 65.

Ad is characterized by memory loss, problems
with judgment, and changes in personality. As the
disease progresses, severe physical decline occurs
along with deteriorating cognitive functions.

sTAGes OF ALzHeiMer’s diseAse
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease can be different for
each client. While there is no universal scale for the stages
and manifestations, the following is an example of one
scale.

Mild Alzheimer’s (early stage)
● Memory lapses
● Losing or misplacing items
● Difficulty concentrating and organizing
● Unable to remember material just read
● Still able to perform ADLs
● Short-term memory loss noticeable to close relations
● Trouble remembering names when introduced to

new people
● Greater difficulty performing tasks in a worse setting

Moderate Alzheimer’s (middle stage)
● Forgetting events of one’s own history
● Difficulty performing tasks that require planning and

organizing (paying bills, managing money)
● Difficulty with complex mental arithmetic
● Personality and behavioral changes: appearing

withdrawn or subdued, especially in social or mentally
challenging situations; compulsive; repetitive actions

● Changes in sleep patterns
● Can wander and get lost
● Can be incontinent
● Clinical findings that are noticeable to others

Severe Alzheimer’s (late stage)
● Losing ability to converse with others
● Assistance required for ADLs
● Incontinence
● Losing awareness of one’s environment
● Progressing difficulty with physical abilities (walking,

sitting, and eventually swallowing)
● Eventually losses all ability to move; can develop stupor

and coma
● Death frequently related to choking or infection
● Vulnerable to infection, especially pneumonia, which

may become lethal

ASSESSMENT
Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), set test using
FACT, Short Blessed Test, or Clock Drawing Test is used.

risK FACTOrs
● Advanced age
● Chemical imbalances
● Family history of AD or Down syndrome
● Genetic predisposition, apolipoprotein E
● Environmental agents (herpes virus, metal, or

toxic waste)
● Previous head injury
● Sex (female)
● Ethnicity/race (African American and Hispanic people

are at an increased risk for the development of AD
than non-Hispanic white people due to the APOE and
ABCA7 genes)

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease can be different for
each client. There is no universal scale for the stages and
manifestations.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE MENTAL HEALTH CHAPTER 17:

NEUROCOGNITIVE DISORDERS

CHAPTER 8

48 CHAPTER 8 ALzHeiMer’s diseAse CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

LABOrATOry TesTs
● No specific lab test can definitively diagnose AD.
● Several lab tests can rule out other causes of dementia.
● A genetic test for the presence of apolipoprotein can

determine if there is an increased risk of AD, but it does
not specifically diagnose AD. The presence of the protein
increases the likelihood that dementia is due to AD.

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
● There is no definitive diagnostic procedure, except brain

tissue examination upon death.
● Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed

tomography (CT) imaging/computed axial tomography
(CAT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan,
and electroencephalogram (EEG) may be performed to
rule out other possible causes of findings.

● A lumbar puncture may be performed for laboratory
testing of cerebral spinal fluid for soluble beta protein
precursor (sBPP). Beta amyloid protein normally assists
in growth and protection of nerve cells. The presence of
low levels of sBPP supports the diagnosis of AD.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Assess cognitive status, memory, judgment, and

personality changes.
● Initiate bowel and bladder program based on a

set schedule.
● Encourage the client and family to participate in an AD

support group.
● Provide a safe environment.

◯ Frequent monitoring/visual checks.
◯ Keep client from stairs, elevators, exits.
◯ Remove or secure dangerous items in the
client’s environment.

● Provide frequent walks to reduce wandering.
● Maintain a sleeping schedule, and monitor for irregular

sleeping patterns.
● Provide verbal and nonverbal ways to communicate with

the client.
● Offer snacks or finger foods if the client is unable to sit

for long periods of time.
● Check skin weekly for breakdown.

8.1 Alzheimer’s disease stages and manifestations

Mild Alzheimer’s
(early stage)
NO APPARENT MANIFESTATION

● Normal function
● Manifestation: No memory problems.

STAGE 2: Forgetfulness
● (Can be normal age‑related changes
or very early manifestations of Ad)

● Manifestations
◯ Forgetfulness, especially of everyday
objects (eyeglasses or wallet).

◯ No memory problems evident to
provider, friends, or coworkers.

STAGE 3: Mild Cognitive decline
● (Problems with memory or concentration
can be measurable in clinical testing or
during a detailed medical interview)

● Mild cognitive deficits, including losing
or misplacing important objects.

● Manifestations
◯ decreased ability to plan.
◯ short‑term memory loss
noticeable to close relatives.

◯ decreased attention span.
◯ difficulty remembering
words or names.

◯ difficulty in social or work situations.
◯ Can get lost when driving.

Moderate Alzheimer’s
(middle stage)
STAGE 4: Mild to moderate
Cognitive decline

● Medical interview will detect
clear‑cut deficiencies.

● Manifestations
◯ Personality changes: appearing
withdrawn or subdued,
especially in social or mentally
challenging situations.

◯ Obvious memory loss.
◯ Limited knowledge and memory
of recent occasions, current
events, or personal history.

◯ difficulty performing tasks that
require planning and organizing
(paying bills or managing money).

◯ difficulty with complex
mental arithmetic.

◯ depression and social
withdrawal can occur.

STAGE 5: Moderate cognitive decline
● Manifestations

◯ increasing cognitive deficits emerge.
◯ inability to recall important details
such as address, telephone
number, or schools attended, but
memory of information about
self and family remains intact.

◯ Assistance with AdLs
becomes necessary.

◯ disorientation and confusion
as to time and place.

Severe Alzheimer’s
(late stage)
STAGE 6: Moderate to severe
cognitive decline

● Manifestations
◯ Memory difficulties continue to worsen.
◯ Loss of awareness of recent
events and surroundings.

◯ Can recall own name, but unable
to recall personal history.

◯ significant personality changes are
evident (delusions, hallucinations,
and compulsive behaviors).

◯ Wandering behavior.
◯ requires assistance with AdLs such
as dressing, toileting, and grooming.

◯ Normal sleep/wake cycle is disrupted.
◯ increased episodes of urinary
and fecal incontinence.

STAGE 7: severe cognitive decline
● Manifestations

◯ Ability to respond to environment,
speak, and control movement is lost.

◯ Unrecognizable speech.
◯ General urinary incontinence.
◯ inability to eat without assistance
and impaired swallowing.

◯ Gradual loss of all ability to
move extremities (ataxia).

Refer to Review Module: Mental Health: Chapter 17: Neurocognitive Disorders on Alzheimer’s Disease.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 8 ALzHeiMer’s diseAse 49

● Provide cognitive stimulation.
◯ Offer varied environmental stimulations (walks,
music, craft activities).

◯ Keep a structured environment and introduce change
gradually (client’s daily routine or a room change).

◯ Use a calendar to assist with orientation.
◯ Use short directions when explaining an activity or
care the client needs, such as a bath.

◯ Be consistent and repetitive.
◯ Use therapeutic touch.

● Provide memory training.
◯ Reminisce with the client about the past.
◯ Use memory techniques, such as making lists and
rehearsing.

◯ Stimulate memory by repeating the client’s
last statement.

● Avoid overstimulation. (Keep noise and clutter to a
minimum, and avoid crowds.)

● Promote consistency by placing commonly used objects
in the same location and using a routine schedule.

◯ Reality orientation (early stages)
◯ Easily viewed clock and single-day calendar
◯ Pictures of family and pets
◯ Frequent reorientation to time, place, and person

● Validation therapy (later stages)
◯ Acknowledge the client’s feelings.
◯ Don’t argue with the client; this will lead to the client

becoming upset.
◯ Reinforce and use repetitive actions or ideas cautiously.

● Promote self-care as long as possible. Assist with
activities of daily living as appropriate.

● Speak directly to the client in short, concise sentences.
● Reduce agitation. (Use calm, redirecting statements.

Provide a diversion.)
● Provide a routine toileting schedule.

MediCATiONs
● Most medications for clients who have dementia

attempt to target behavioral and emotional problems
(anxiety, agitation, combativeness, depression).

● These medications include antipsychotics,
antidepressants, and anxiolytics. Closely monitor clients
receiving these medications for adverse effects.

● AD medications temporarily slow the course of the
disease and do not work for all clients.

◯ Pharmacotherapeutics is based on the theory that
AD is a result of depleted levels of the enzyme
acetyltransferase, which is necessary to produce the
neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

◯ Benefits for clients who do respond to medication
include improvements in cognition, behavior,
and function.

● If a client fails to improve with one medication, a trial
of one of the other medications is warranted.

◯ Donepezil prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine
(ACh), which increases the amount of ACh available. This
results in increased nerve impulses at the nerve sites.

◯ Memantine is the first of a new classification of
medications with a low-to-moderate affinity. It blocks
nerve cell damage caused by excess glutamate. It has
shown to reduce client deterioration. Memantine may
be given in conjunction with donepezil.

◯ Cholinesterase inhibitors help slow this process.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for frequent stools or upset stomach.
● Monitor for dizziness or headache. The client can feel

lightheaded or have an unsteady gait.
● Use caution when administering this medication to clients

who have asthma or COPD, as lung problems can worsen.

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres
ALTERNATIVE THERAPY

● Estrogen therapy for females can prevent Alzheimer’s
disease, but it is not useful in decreasing the effects of
existing dementia.

● Ginkgo biloba, an herbal product taken to increase
memory and blood circulation, can cause a variety of
adverse effects and medication interactions. If a client
is using ginkgo biloba or other nutritional supplements,
that information should be shared with providers.

COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
● Massage the client before bedtime to reduce stress and

promote sleep.
● Essential oils (lavender, bergamot) can be used to

promote relaxation and assist with sleeping.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Encourage the client and family to seek legal counsel

regarding advanced directives, guardianship, or durable
medical power of attorney.

● Refer the client and family to social services and
case managers for possible adult day care facilities or
long-term care facilities.

● Refer the client and family to the Alzheimer’s Association
and community outreach programs. This can include
family support groups, in-home care, or respite care.

● Review the resources available to the family as the
client’s health declines. Include long-term care options.
A variety of home care and community resources, such
as respite care, can be available to the family in many
areas of the country. Some respite care allows the client
to remain at home rather than in a facility.

50 CHAPTER 8 ALzHeiMer’s diseAse CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CLieNT edUCATiON
● Refer to social services and case managers for long-

term/home management, Alzheimer’s Association,
community outreach programs, and support groups.

● Educate family/caregivers about illness, methods of care,
medications, and adaptation of the home environment.

● Provide information about care for seizures that can
happen late in the disease.

● Provide strategies to reduce caregiver stress.

Home safety measures
● Remove scatter rugs.
● Install door locks that cannot be easily opened, and

place alarms on doors.
● Keep a lock on the water heater and thermostat, and

keep the water temperature at a safe level.
● Provide good lighting, especially on stairs.
● Install handrails on stairs and mark step edges with

colored tape.
● Place the mattress on the floor.
● Remove clutter and clear hallways for walking.
● Secure electrical cords to baseboards.
● Keep cleaning supplies in locked cupboards.
● Install handrails in the bathroom, at bedside, and

in the tub.
● Place a shower chair in the tub.
● Wear a medical identification bracelet if living at home

with a caregiver.
● Enroll in Safe Return Home Program (www.alz.org).
● Participate in an exercise program to maintain mobility.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is providing teaching to the partner of a client
who has Alzheimer’s disease and has a new prescription
for donepezil. Which of the following statements by
the partner indicates the teaching is effective?

A. “This medication should increase
my husband’s appetite.”

B. “This medication should help my
husband sleep better.”

C. “This medication should help my
husband’s daily function.”

d. “This medication should increase
my husband’s energy level.”

2. A nurse working in a long‑term care facility is planning
care for a client who has moderate Alzheimer’s
(mild or moderate stage). Which of the following
interventions should be included in the plan of care?

A. Use a gait belt for ambulation.

B. Thicken all liquids.

C. Provide protective undergarments.

d. reorient the client to self and current events.

3. A nurse is making a home visit to a client who
has Ad. The client’s partner states that the
client is often disoriented to time and place, is
unsteady, and has a history of wandering. Which
of the following safety measures should the nurse
review with the partner? (select all that apply.)

A. remove floor rugs.

B. Have door locks that can be easily opened.

C. Provide increased lighting in stairwells.

d. install handrails in the bathroom.

e. Place the mattress on the floor.

4. A nurse is caring for a client who has Ad and falls
frequently. Which of the following actions should
the nurse take first to keep the client safe?

A. Keep the call light near the client.

B. Place the client in a room close to the nurses’ station.

C. encourage the client to ask for assistance.

d. remind the client to walk with
someone for support.

5. A nurse is caring for a client who has Alzheimer’s disease.
A family member of the client asks the nurse about risk
factors for the disease. Which of the following should be
included in the nurse’s response? (select all that apply.)

A. exposure to metal waste products

B. Long‑term estrogen therapy

C. sustained use of vitamin e

d. Previous head injury

e. History of herpes infection

Active Learning Scenario

A charge nurse in a long‑term care facility is preparing
a program for assistive personnel about caring for a
client who has Alzheimer’s disease. What should be
included in this program? Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: system disorder to complete this item.

NURSING CARE: describe three nursing
interventions for each of the following areas.

● Providing cognitive stimulation
● Providing memory training

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 8 ALzHeiMer’s diseAse 51

Application Exercises Key

1. A. donepezil does not affect appetite.
B. donepezil does not affect sleep or sleep patterns.
C. CORRECT: donepezil helps slow the progression of Ad

and can help improve behavior and daily functions.
d. donepezil does not affect energy levels.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

2. A. Ambulation is affected as the client advances
into severe Alzheimer’s (late stage).

B. impaired swallowing is a finding as the client
advances into severe Alzheimer’s (late stage).

C. The client in severe Alzheimer’s (late stage) experiences
episodes of urinary and fecal incontinence.

d. CORRECT: A client who has moderate Alzheimer’s (middle
or moderate stage) can require reorientation to self
and current events as cognitive function declines.

NCLEX® Connection: Safety and Infection Control, Home Safety

3. A. CORRECT: removing floor rugs can
decrease the risk of falling.

B. easy‑to‑open door locks increase the risk for a client
who wanders to get out of his home and get lost.

C. CORRECT: Good lighting can decrease the risk
for falling in dark areas, such as stairways.

d. CORRECT: installing handrails in the bathroom can be useful
for the client to hold on to when his gait is unsteady.

e. CORRECT: By placing the client’s mattress on the
floor, the risk of falling or tripping is decreased.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Developmental Stages and Transitions

4. A. Keeping the call light within the client’s reach is an
appropriate action, but not the first action because
the client might not remember to use it.

B. CORRECT: Using the safety and risk reduction
priority‑setting framework, placing the client in close
proximity to the nurses’ station for close observation
is the first action the nurse should take.

C. encouraging the client to ask for assistance is an
appropriate action, but not the first action because the
client might not remember to ask for assistance.

d. reminding the client to walk with someone is an
appropriate action, but not the first action because the
client might not remember to call for assistance.

NCLEX® Connection: Safety and Infection Control, Home Safety

5. A. CORRECT: exposure to metal and toxic waste is
a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

B. Long‑term estrogen therapy can
prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

C. Long‑term use of vitamin e is not a risk
factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

d. CORRECT: A previous head injury is a risk
factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

e. CORRECT: A history of herpes infection is a
risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

NURSING CARE
● Providing cognitive stimulation

◯ Offer varied environmental stimulations
(walks, music, craft activities).

◯ Keep a structured environment. introduce change slowly.
◯ Use a calendar to assist with orientation.
◯ Use short directions when explaining care
to be provided, such as a bath.

◯ Be consistent and repetitive.
◯ Use therapeutic touch.

● Providing memory training
◯ reminisce about the past.
◯ Help the client make lists and rehearse.
◯ repeat the client’s last statement to stimulate memory.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Developmental Stages and Transitions

52 CHAPTER 8 ALzHeiMer’s diseAse CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 9 BrAiN TUMOrs 53

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 9 Brain Tumors
Brain tumors occur in any part of the brain,
occupy space within the skull, and are classified
according to the cell or tissue of origin. Cerebral
tumors are the most common.

Types of brain tumors include benign and
malignant. examples include malignant
gliomas (neuroglial cells), benign meningiomas
(meninges), pituitary adenomas, and acoustic
neuromas (acoustic cranial nerve).

A secondary classification, supratentorial tumors,
occur in the cerebral hemispheres above the
tentorium cerebelli. Those below the tentorium
cerebelli, such as tumors of the brainstem and
cerebellum, are classified as infratentorial tumors.

Brain tumors apply pressure to surrounding
brain tissue, resulting in decreased outflow
of cerebrospinal fluid, increased intracranial
pressure, cerebral edema, and neurologic
deficits. Tumors that involve the pituitary gland
can cause endocrine dysfunction.

Malignant brain tumors are associated with a
high overall mortality rate. Primary malignant
brain tumors originate from neuroglial
tissue and rarely metastasize outside of the
brain. secondary malignant brain tumors are
lesions that are metastases from a primary
cancer located elsewhere in the body. Cranial
metastatic lesions are most common from
breast, kidney, lung, skin (melanomas), and
gastrointestinal tract cancers.

Benign brain tumors develop from the meninges
or cranial nerves and do not metastasize. These
tumors have distinct boundaries and cause
damage either by the pressure they exert
within the cranial cavity and/or by impairing the
function of the cranial nerve.

HEALTH PROMOTION/
DISEASE PREVENTION

There are no routine screening procedures to detect
brain tumors.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
The cause is unknown, but several risk factors have
been identified.

● Genetics
● Environmental agents
● Exposure to ionizing radiation
● Exposure to electromagnetic fields
● Previous head injury

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS

● Dysarthria
● Dysphagia
● Positive Romberg sign
● Positive Babinski sign
● Vertigo
● Hemiparesis
● Cranial nerve dysfunction (inability to discriminate

sounds, loss of gag reflex, loss of blink response)
● Papilledema

MANIFESTATIONS SPECIFIC TO
SUPRATENTORIAL BRAIN TUMORS

● Severe headache (worse upon awakening but improving
over time; worsened by coughing or straining)

● Visual changes (blurring, visual field deficit)
● Focal or generalized seizures
● Loss of voluntary movement or the inability to

control movement
● Change in cognitive function (memory loss,

language impairment)
● Change in personality, inability to control emotions
● Nausea with or without vomiting
● Paralysis

MANIFESTATIONS SPECIFIC TO
INFRATENTORIAL BRAIN TUMORS

● Hearing loss or ringing in the ear
● Visual changes
● Facial drooping
● Difficulty swallowing
● Nystagmus, crossed eyes, or decreased vision
● Autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction
● Ataxia or clumsy movements
● Hemiparesis
● Cranial nerve dysfunction (inability to discriminate

sounds, loss of gag reflex, loss of blink response)

LABOrATOry TesTs
● CBC and differential to rule out anemia or malnutrition
● Blood alcohol and toxicology screen to rule out these as

possible causes of altered physical assessment findings
● TB and HIV screening if social conditions warrant

CHAPTER 9 Online Media: Nystagmus, Testing for
Romberg Sign, Babinski Reflex

54 CHAPTER 9 BrAiN TUMOrs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
● X-ray, computed tomography (CT) imaging scan,

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), brain scan,
position emission tomography (PET) scan, and cerebral
angiography are used to determine the size, location,
and extent of the tumor.

● Lumbar puncture (LP) and electroencephalography
(EEG) can provide additional information about
the tumor.

● LP should not be done if the client has or shows
manifestations of increasing intracranial pressure (ICP)
to prevent brain herniation.

● Lab tests can be done to evaluate endocrine function,
renal status, and electrolyte balance.

● Cerebral biopsy identifies cellular pathology.
◯ This procedure can be performed in the surgical suite
or in a radiology specialty suite.

◯ Diagnostic procedure can be used to guide the biopsy,
such as a CT or MRI scan. Image guiding systems,
which use CT or MRI scan information, can be used in
the surgical suite.

◯ A piece of cerebral tissue that appears abnormal on
the CT/MRI scan is obtained. This tissue is then sent
to pathology, where diagnostic tests are performed.

◯ Benefit: Biopsy is minimally disruptive to the rest of
the brain, provides a decreased recovery time, and is
not associated with the risks of an open craniotomy.

◯ Negative: Biopsy does not remove or debulk the tumor,
the diagnostic determination by pathology can be
inconclusive (related to insufficient tissue), and a
misdiagnosis can occur if the tumor contains many
types of tissue or the specimen is taken from one site.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Adhere to the specific instructions
regarding medications.

● If on antiepileptic medications, these must be continued
to prevent seizure activity.

● If on aspirin products, these should be discontinued at
least 72 hr prior to the procedure to minimize the risk
of intracerebral bleeding.

● Other medications can be withheld prior to
the procedure.

● Normally, preprocedure activities can be resumed after
recovering from the general anesthetic. Care of the
incision should include keeping the area clean and dry.
If sutures are in place, they need to be removed 1 to
7 days later. Driving or other dangerous activities should
be avoided until follow-up appointment occurs and
diagnosis is known.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Maintain airway (monitor oxygen levels, administer

oxygen as needed, monitor lung sounds).
● Monitor neurologic status—in particular, assessing for

changes in level of consciousness, neurologic deficits,
and occurrence of seizures.

● Maintain client safety. (Assist with transfers and
ambulation, provide assistive devices as needed.)

● Implement seizure precautions.
● Administer medications.

MediCATiONs
● Non-opioid analgesics are used to treat headaches.

◯ Opioid medications are avoided because they tend to
decrease level of consciousness.

● Corticosteroids are used to reduce cerebral edema
(relieving headaches, improving altered levels of
consciousness).

◯ Corticosteroid medications quickly reduce cerebral
edema and can be rapidly administered to maximize
their effectiveness.

◯ Chronic administration is used to control cerebral
edema associated with the presence or treatment of
benign or malignant brain tumors.

● Osmotic diuretics decrease fluid content of the brain,
resulting in a decrease in intracranial pressure.

● Anticonvulsant medications are used to control or
prevent seizure activity.

◯ Anticonvulsant medications suppress the
neuronal activity within the brain, which prevents
seizure activity.

◯ There are several classifications of antiepileptic
medications, each specifically designed to treat
specific seizure behavior.

● H2-antagonists are used to decrease the acid content of
the stomach, reducing the risk of stress ulcers.

◯ H2-antagonists are administered during acute
or stressful periods, such as after surgery, at the
initiation of chemotherapy, or during the first several
radiation therapy treatments.

◯ The effect of these treatments, together with
the necessity of corticosteroids, places the
client at risk for stress ulcers. This is primarily
preventative treatment.

● Antiemetics are used if nausea (with or without
vomiting) is present.

◯ Nausea and vomiting can be present as a result
of the increased ICP, the site of the tumor, or the
treatment required.

◯ These medications are administered as prescribed,
and can be provided as a preventative intervention,
especially when the treatment is associated with
nausea and vomiting.

● Chemotherapy can be given in conjunction with
radiation. However, the blood-brain barrier can prevent
adequate doses from reaching the tumor.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 9 BrAiN TUMOrs 55

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Initiate appropriate referrals (social services; support

groups; medical equipment; and physical, speech, and
occupational therapy).

● Treatments include steroids, surgery, chemotherapy,
conventional radiation therapy, stereotactic
radiosurgery, and clinical trials. Chemotherapy
and conventional radiation therapy can be administered
prior to surgery to reduce the bulk of the tumor, or after
surgery to prevent tumor recurrence.

● In most cases when the tumor is benign, surgery
is a curative treatment. However, these tumors can
regrow. Radiation and chemotherapy can be provided to
prevent recurrence.

● Some tumors can be malignant by location, meaning
that while the pathology is benign, the location makes
the mortality rate associated with them high.

● In cases where the tumor is a metastatic lesion from a
primary lesion elsewhere in the body, treatments are
palliative. These treatments can consist of surgery,
radiation, and chemotherapy, in any combination, and
are aimed at controlling intracerebral lesions.

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres
Craniotomy: complete or partial resection of brain tumor
through surgical opening in the skull

PREOPERATIVE NURSING ACTIONS
● Explain the procedure to the client, answering all

appropriate questions and providing emotional support.
● Questions regarding the surgery and its outcomes

should be written, in an effort to ensure all questions
are answered.

● The client’s partner should be present to hear the
responses and avoid miscommunication.

● If the client takes aspirin, this medication needs to be
stopped at least 72 hr prior to the procedure.

● No alcohol, tobacco, anticoagulants, or NSAIDs for
5 days prior to surgery.

● If the client uses alternative/complementary
medications or treatments, make these known to
the provider.

● A living will and durable power for health care decisions
should be completed.

● Administer medications as prescribed. An anti-anxiety
or muscle relaxant medication can be administered, if
requested, and provided by the provider.

POSTOPERATIVE NURSING ACTIONS
● Closely monitor vital signs and neurologic status,

including using the Glasgow Scale.
● Treat pain adequately.
● Elevate the head of the client 30° for clients who had

supratentorial surgery and in a neutral position to
prevent increased ICP. Turn the client to the side or
supine to decrease risk of pressure injuries and
pneumonia.

● Infratentorial craniotomy clients lie flat and side-lying.
Turn side to side every 2 hr for 24 to 48 hr.

● Straining activities (moving up in bed and attempting
to have a bowel movement) should be avoided to prevent
increased ICP. Postoperative bleeding and seizure
activity are the greatest risks.

● Periorbital edema and ecchymosis is not unusual. Treat
with cold compresses.

● Assess head dressing every 1 to 2 hr for drainage.

COMPLICATIONS

Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone

Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH)
is a condition where fluid is retained as a result of an
overproduction of vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone
(ADH) from the posterior pituitary gland.

● SIADH occurs when the hypothalamus has been
damaged and can no longer regulate the release of ADH.

● Treatment consists of fluid restriction, administration
of oral conivaptan, and treatment of hyponatremia, with
3% hypertonic saline solution for severe cases.

● If SIADH is present, the client can have disorientation,
headache, vomiting, muscle weakness, decreased LOC,
irritability, loss of thirst, and weight gain.

● If severe or untreated, this condition can cause seizures
and a coma.

Diabetes insipidus

Diabetes insipidus (DI) is seen most often after
supratentorial surgery, especially when involving the
pituitary gland or hypothalamus.

● This is a condition where large amounts of urine are
excreted as a result of a deficiency of ADH from the
posterior pituitary gland.

● The condition occurs when the hypothalamus has been
damaged and can no longer regulate the release of ADH.

● Treatment of DI consists of massive fluid replacement,
administration of synthetic vasopressin, careful
attention to laboratory values, and replacement of
essential nutrients as indicated.

56 CHAPTER 9 BrAiN TUMOrs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is completing preoperative teaching for a client who
has a brain tumor and will undergo a craniotomy. What should
be included in the teaching? Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: Therapeutic Procedure to complete this item.

DESCRIPTION OF PROCEDURE

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: describe three
preoperative and three postoperative interventions.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who is having
surgery for the removal of an encapsulated
acoustic tumor. Which of the following potential
complications should the nurse monitor for
postoperatively? (select all that apply.)

A. increased intracranial pressure
B. Hemorrhagic shock
C. Hydrocephalus
d. Hypoglycemia
e. seizures

2. A nurse is caring for a client who has just
undergone a craniotomy for a supratentorial
tumor and has a respiratory rate of 12. Which
of the following postoperative prescriptions
should the nurse clarify with the provider?

A. dexamethasone 30 mg iV bolus Bid
B. Morphine sulfate 2 mg iV bolus

PrN every 2 hr for pain
C. Ondansetron 4 mg iV bolus PrN

every 4 to 6 hr for nausea
d. Phenytoin 100 mg iV bolus Tid

3. A nurse is completing an assessment of a client who
has increased intracranial pressure (iCP). Which of the
following are expected findings? (select all that apply.)

A. disoriented to time and place
B. restlessness and irritability
C. Unequal pupils
d. iCP 15 mm Hg
e. Headache

4. A nurse is reviewing a prescription for dexamethasone
with a client who has an expanding brain
tumor. Which of the following are appropriate
statements by the nurse? (select all that apply.)

A. “it is given to reduce swelling of the brain.”
B. “you will need to monitor for low blood sugar.”
C. “you might notice weight gain.”
d. “Tumor growth will be delayed.”
e. “it can cause you to retain fluids.”

5. A nurse is caring for a client who has a benign brain
tumor. The client asks the nurse if this same type of
tumor can occur in other areas of the body. Which
of the following responses should the nurse make?

A. “it can spread to breasts and kidneys.”
B. “it can develop in your gastrointestinal tract.”
C. “it is limited to brain tissue.”
d. “it probably started in another area of

your body and spread to your brain.”

6. A nurse is reviewing the health record of a client who
has a malignant brain tumor and notes the client has a
positive romberg sign. Which of the following actions
should the nurse take to assess for this finding?

A. stroke the lateral aspect of the sole of the foot.
B. Ask the client to blink both eyes.
C. Observe for facial drooping.
d. Have the client stand erect with eyes closed.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 9 BrAiN TUMOrs 57

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: A client who has had a craniotomy should be
monitored postoperatively for increased iCP.

B. Although hypovolemic shock can occur secondary
to siAdH, hemorrhagic shock is not a concern.

C. CORRECT: Following a craniotomy, the client should be
monitored for the development of hydrocephalus.

d. An alteration in glucose metabolism is not usually
a postoperative concern after this surgery.

e. CORRECT: seizures are a postoperative complication
that should be monitored following a craniotomy.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Unexpected Response to Therapies

2. A. dexamethasone is given to prevent cerebral edema
and has no CNs depressant effects.

B. CORRECT: identify that if a client following a craniotomy
has a respiratory rate of 12, the provider should be
notified prior to administering morphine. Morphine is
a narcotic analgesic, which can cause CNs depressant
effects such as respiratory depression.

C. Ondansetron is prescribed to manage nausea
and has no CNs depressant effects.

d. Phenytoin is prescribed to prevent seizures
and has no CNs depressant effects.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

3. A. CORRECT: Changes in level of consciousness are
an early indicator of increased iCP.

B. CORRECT: increased iCP can cause behavior
changes, such as restlessness and irritability.

C. CORRECT: Unequal pupils indicates pressure on the
oculomotor nerve secondary to increased iCP.

d. An iCP of 15 mm Hg is within the expected reference range.
e. CORRECT: A headache is a manifestation of increased iCP.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Unexpected Response to Therapies

4. A. CORRECT: dexamethasone is a common steroid
prescribed to reduce cerebral edema.

B. The client can experience hyperglycemia as
an adverse effect of dexamethasone.

C. CORRECT: Weight gain is an adverse
effect of dexamethasone.

d. dexamethasone does not affect tumor growth.
it is given to prevent cerebral edema.

e. CORRECT: Fluid retention is an adverse
effect of dexamethasone.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

5. A. Metastases of a benign brain tumor do not occur.
B. Metastases of a benign brain tumor do not occur.
C. CORRECT: Benign brain tumors develop from the

meninges or cranial nerves and do not metastasize.
d. Benign brain tumors develop from the meninges or cranial

nerves and are not secondary to other types of tumors.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

6. A. A Babinski sign is elicited by stroking the lateral
aspect of the sole of the foot.

B. Asking the client to blink his eyes assesses cranial nerve
function and is not part of the romberg test.

C. Observing for facial drooping assesses cranial nerve
function and is not part of the romberg test.

d. CORRECT: A positive romberg sign is indicated
when a client loses their balance while attempting
to stand erect with their eyes closed.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Therapeutic Procedure

DESCRIPTION OF PROCEDURE: A craniotomy is a surgical
opening in the skull to expose brain tissue. it involves a
complete or partial resection of the brain tumor.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS

Preoperative
● explain the procedure, answer appropriate
questions, and provide emotional support.

● Provide written explanations.
● include the client’s partner in teaching.
● remind the client to stop taking aspirin at least 72
hr prior to the procedure, if appropriate.

● review use of alternative/complementary therapies,
and report their use to the provider.

● review the need for a living will and durable
power for health care decisions.

● Administer medications (anxiolytics, muscle relaxants) as prescribed.

Postoperative
● Monitor vital signs and neurologic status
to include use of Glasgow scale.

● Maintain client’s head elevated to 30° and in a
neutral position to prevent increased iCP.

● Monitor for postoperative bleeding and seizures.
● Prevent the client from performing any straining activities
(moving up in bed, attempting to have a bowel movement).

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Therapeutic
Procedures

58 CHAPTER 9 BrAiN TUMOrs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 10 MULTiPLe sCLerOsis 59

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 10 Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (Ms) is a neurologic disease
that typically results in impaired and worsening
function of voluntary muscles.

Ms is an autoimmune disorder that affects nerve
cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Ms is a
chronic disease caused by a genetic, immune‑
mediated attack or infection that destroys
myelin (a fatty protein that surrounds nerve
fibers). As a result, demyelination interrupts the
flow of nerve impulses. Plaques can occur on
demyelinated axons, leaving them unable to
regenerate and causing irreversible damage.
The most common areas affected include the
optic nerve, cerebrum, brainstem, cerebellum,
and spinal cord.

Ms follows several possible courses. The most
common is relapsing and remitting. The disease
is marked by relapses and remissions that might
not return the client to their previous baseline
level of function. Over time, the client can
eventually progress to the point of quadriplegia.

Ms is a chronic disease with no known cure that
progresses in severity over time. initial findings
can be so vague that diagnosis is not made for
several years.

some forms of Ms are aggressive and can
shorten the lifespan. in most cases, life
expectancy is not adversely affected by
this disease.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● The onset of MS is typically between 20 and 40 years of

age. MS occurs twice as often in females. The etiology of
MS is unknown. There is a family history (first-degree
relative) of MS in many cases.

● Research shows association with the interleukin (IL)-7
and IL-2 receptor genes.

● Because MS is an autoimmune disease, there are factors
that trigger relapses.

◯ Viruses and infectious agents
◯ Living in a cold climate
◯ Physical injury
◯ Emotional stress
◯ Pregnancy
◯ Fatigue
◯ Overexertion
◯ Temperature extremes
◯ Hot shower/bath

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Fatigue
● Pain or paresthesia
● Diplopia, changes in peripheral vision, decreased

visual acuity, scotomas (patches of blindness), periods
of total blindness

● Uhthoff’s sign (a temporary worsening of vision and
other neurologic functions commonly seen in clients
who have or are predisposed to MS, just after exertion or
in situations where they are exposed to heat)

● Tinnitus, vertigo, decreased hearing acuity
● Dysphagia
● Dysarthria (slurred and nasal speech)
● Muscle spasticity
● Ataxia or muscle weakness
● Nystagmus
● Bowel dysfunction (constipation, fecal incontinence)
● Bladder dysfunction (areflexia, urgency, nocturia,

incontinence)
● Cognitive changes (memory loss, impaired judgment)
● Sexual dysfunction

LABOrATOry TesTs
Cerebrospinal fluid analysis reveals elevated protein level
and a slight increase in WBCs.

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals plaques of the
brain and spine, which is most diagnostic.

CHAPTER 10

60 CHAPTER 10 MULTiPLe sCLerOsis CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Monitor the following.

◯ Visual acuity
◯ Speech patterns: fatigue with talking
◯ Swallowing
◯ Activity tolerance
◯ Skin integrity

● Discuss coping mechanisms and sources of support
(family, friends, spiritual figures, support groups).

● Encourage fluid intake and other measures to decrease
the risk of developing a urinary tract infection. Assist
the client with bladder elimination: intermittent
self-catheterization, bladder pacemaker, Credé’s
maneuver (placing manual pressure on abdomen over
the bladder to expel urine). Establish a voiding time
schedule (every 1.5 to 2 hr initially) with gradual
increase of the time interval for those experiencing
incontinence.

● Monitor cognitive changes and plan interventions to
promote cognitive function. (Reorient the client. Place
objects used daily in routine places.)

● Facilitate effective communication for dysarthria using
a communication board.

● Apply eye patches to treat diplopia. Alternate between
eyes every few hours. Teach scanning techniques.
Instruct the client to visually scan their environment by
moving the head from side to side.

● Exercise and stretch involved muscles. (Avoid fatigue
and overheating.)

● Promote energy conservation by grouping care and
planning rest periods.

● Promote and maintain safe home and hospital
environment to reduce the risk of injury (walking with
wide base of support, assistive devices, skin
precautions).

MediCATiONs

Disease‑modifying therapies

Reduce the frequency and duration of relapses

Interferon beta‑1a and beta‑1b

Injectable agents that, if used, should be started early in
the course of the disease

● Flu-like manifestations are an adverse effect.
● Immunomodulators are used to prevent or treat relapses.

Glimmer acetate

Injectable agent

Teriflunomide, fingolimod, dimethyl fumarate

Oral alternatives for those who have experienced
injection reactions

Prednisone, dexamethasone, or methylprednisolone
● Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation in

acute exacerbations and are administered in large doses
over a 3- to 5-day period followed by an oral taper
with prednisone.

● NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for increased risk of
infection, hypervolemia, hypernatremia, hypokalemia,
hyperglycemia, gastrointestinal bleeding, and
personality changes.

Dantrolene, tizanidine, baclofen, and diazepam
● Antispasmodics are used to treat muscle spasticity.
● Intrathecal baclofen can be used for severe cases of MS.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for increased weakness.
● Monitor for liver damage with tizanidine or dantrolene.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Report increased weakness and jaundice to the provider.
● Avoid stopping baclofen abruptly.

Carbamazepine

Anticonvulsants are used for paresthesia.

Docusate sodium

Stool softeners are used for constipation.

Propantheline

Anticholinergics are used for bladder dysfunction.

Propranolol and clonazepam

A beta blocker and a benzodiazepine used for ataxia

Amantadine, pemoline, dalfampridine,
baclofen, tizanidine

Administered to combat fatigue that can
interfere with ADLs

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Plan for disease progression. Provide community

resources and respite services for the client and family.
● Consider referral to occupational and physical therapy

for home environment assessment to determine safety
and ease of mobility. Use adaptive devices to assist with
activities of daily living.

● Refer to speech language therapist for dysarthria
and dysphagia.

● Emphasize need to avoid overexertion, stress, extremes
of temperatures, humidity, and people who have
infections.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 10 MULTiPLe sCLerOsis 61

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is providing education to family members of a
client who has a new diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. What
should be included in the teaching? Use the ATi Active
Learning Template: system disorder to complete this item.

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS)

LABORATORY TESTS

DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES

MEDICATIONS: describe four medications
and one teaching point for each.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who has
multiple sclerosis. Which of the following
findings should the nurse expect?

A. Fluctuations in blood pressure

B. Loss of cognitive function

C. ineffective cough

d. drooping eye lids

2. A nurse is beginning a physical assessment of
a client who has a new diagnosis of multiple
sclerosis. Which of the following findings should
the nurse expect? (select all that apply.)

A. Areas of paresthesia

B. involuntary eye movements

C. Alopecia

d. increased salivation

e. Ataxia

3. A nurse is teaching a client who has multiple
sclerosis and a new prescription for baclofen.
Which of the following statements should
the nurse include in the teaching?

A. “This medication will help you with your tremors.”

B. “This medication will help you with
your bladder function.”

C. “This medication can cause your
skin to bruise easily.”

d. “This medication can cause you
to experience dizziness.”

62 CHAPTER 10 MULTiPLe sCLerOsis CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. Fluctuations in blood pressure is a manifestation
associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

B. CORRECT: Loss of cognitive function is a
manifestation associated with Ms.

C. ineffective cough is a manifestation associated
with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

d. drooping eyelids is a manifestation
associated with myasthenia gravis.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

2. A. CORRECT: Areas of loss of skin sensation are
a finding in a client who has Ms.

B. CORRECT: Nystagmus is a finding in a client who has Ms.
C. Hair loss is not a finding in a client who has Ms.
d. dysphagia, swallowing difficulty, is a finding in a

client who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
e. CORRECT: Ataxia occurs in the client who has Ms as muscle

weakness develops and there is loss of coordination.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

3. A. Propranolol is a beta blocker and clonazepam
is a benzodiazepine given to clients who
have Ms to treat tremors.

B. Propantheline is an anticholinergic medication that is given
to clients who have Ms to treat bladder dysfunction.

C. Prednisone is a corticosteroid medication that is given to
clients who have Ms to treat inflammation. An adverse
effect of this medication is bruising of the skin.

d. CORRECT: Baclofen is an antispasmodic medication that
is given to clients who have Ms to treat muscle spasms. An
adverse effect of this medication is drowsiness, as well as
dizziness. instruct the client to monitor for these findings,
as they can lead to impaired safety. The client should
be instructed not to discontinue baclofen abruptly.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS): Ms is an autoimmune disorder
characterized by the development of plaque in the white matter of
the central nervous system. Plaque damages the myelin sheath and
interferes with impulse transmission between the CNs and the body.

LABORATORY TESTS: Cerebrospinal fluid analysis

DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES: Mri of the brain and spine

MEDICATIONS
● Corticosteroids such as prednisone: increased risk for
infection, hypervolemia, hypernatremia, hypokalemia,
Gi bleeding, and personality changes.

● Antispasmodics (dantrolene, tizanidine, baclofen, diazepam)
are used to treat muscle spasticity. report increased weakness
and jaundice to provider. Avoid stopping baclofen abruptly.

● immunomodulators such as interferon beta are
used to prevent and treat relapses.

● Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine are used for paresthesia.
● stool softeners such as docusate sodium are used for constipation.
● Anticholinergics such as propantheline are
used for bladder dysfunction.

● Propranolol and clonazepam, a beta blocker and
a benzodiazepine, are used for tremors.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Alterations in
Body Systems

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 11 HeAdACHes 63

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS
SECTION: CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 11 Headaches
Headaches can be acute or chronic, temporary,
or life‑threatening.

Headaches are a common occurrence and affect
individuals of all ages. Headaches are associated
with other conditions such as colds, allergies,
and stress or muscle tension.

Primary headaches have no identifiable organic
cause. They include migraine, tension‑like, and
cluster headaches. They can be managed in the
primary care setting.

secondary headaches are associated with
an organic cause, such as a brain tumor or
aneurysm, and warrant further investigation and
medical management.

This chapter includes migraine headaches and
cluster headaches.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Promote stress management strategies and recognition
of triggers of the onset of a headache.

● Recommend use of a headache diary to help identify
type of headache and response to interventions.

● Promote hand hygiene to prevent the spread of
viruses that produce manifestations similar to the
common cold.

● Review pain management to include over-the-counter
medications and herbal remedies.

● Review risk factors (triggers) for both migraine and
cluster headaches.

◯ Alcohol or environmental allergies
◯ Intense odors, bright lights, overuse of some

medications
◯ Fatigue, sleep deprivation, depression, emotional or

physical stress, anxiety
◯ Hormone fluctuations associated with menstrual

cycles and oral contraceptive use
◯ Foods containing tyramine, monosodium glutamate

(MSG), nitrites, or dairy

Migraine headaches

ASSESSMENT

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Photophobia and phonophobia (sensitivity to sounds)
● Nausea and vomiting
● Stress and anxiety
● Unilateral pain, often behind one eye or ear
● Health history and family history for headache patterns
● Alterations in ADLs for 4 to 72 hr
● Manifestations that are similar with each headache

Classified by categories and stages

With aura (classic migraine)
● Prodromal stage includes awareness of findings for

hours to days before onset: irritability, depression, food
cravings, diarrhea/constipation, and frequent urination.

● Aura stage develops over minutes to an hour to include
neurologic findings: numbness and tingling of mouth,
lips, face, or hands; acute confusion; visual disturbances
(light flashes, bright spots).

● Second stage: severe, incapacitating, throbbing headache
that intensifies over several hours and is accompanied
by nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and vertigo.

● Third stage (4 to 72 hr): headache is dull.
● Recovery with pain and aura subsiding. Muscle aches

and contraction of head and neck muscles are common.
Physical activity worsens pain, and client might sleep.

● The older adult client can experience an aura without
pain which is referred to as a visual migraine.

Without aura (common migraine)
● Pain is aggravated by physical activity.
● Unilateral, pulsating pain.
● One or more manifestations present: photophobia,

phonophobia, nausea, and/or vomiting.
● Persists for 4 to 72 hr. Often occurs in early morning,

during periods of stress, or with premenstrual tension
or fluid retention.

Atypical
● Status migrainous: Headache lasts longer than 72 hr.
● Migrainous infarction: Neurologic manifestations

persist for 7 days; neuroimaging can indicate
ischemic infarct.

● Unclassified: Does not fit other criteria.

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
Neuroimaging if neurologic findings present or client is
older than 50 years with a new onset of headaches.

CHAPTER 11

64 CHAPTER 11 HeAdACHes CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE
Nursing care focus during headache is pain management.

● Maintain a cool, dark, quiet environment.
● Elevate the head of the bed to 30°.
● Administer medications as prescribed.

MediCATiONs
● Abortive therapy to alleviate pain during aura or soon

after start of headache
◯ For mild migraines: NSAIDs (ibuprofen,

naproxen), acetaminophen, and over-the-counter
anti-inflammatory medications in formulations
for migraines

◯ Antiemetics (metoclopramide) to relieve nausea
and vomiting.

◯ Severe migraines
■ Triptan preparations (zolmitriptan sumatriptan,

eletriptan) to produce a vasoconstrictive effect
■ Ergotamine preparations with caffeine

(dihydroergotamine) to narrow blood vessels and
reduce inflammation

■ Isometheptene in combination formulations when
other medications do not work

● Preventive therapy for frequent headaches or when
other therapies are ineffective

◯ NSAIDs with beta-blocker (propranolol), calcium
channel blocker, beta-adrenergic blocker or
antiepileptic medications (divalproex, topiramate).

◯ Client is instructed to check pulse when
taking beta-adrenergic blockers and calcium
channel blockers.

◯ OnabotulinumtoxinA is approved for adults for
chronic migraines. Injected into specific areas of the
head and neck up to five treatment cycles.

CLieNT edUCATiON
● Keep a diary to record headache patterns and triggers.
● Report changes in headache intensity, or new visual or

neurologic disturbances.
● Remain in a cool, dark, quiet environment.
● Elevate the head of the bed as desired.
● Females over age 50 are at increased risk for

cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Trigger avoidance and management
● Avoid foods with tyramine (pickles, caffeine, beer, wine,

aged cheese, artificial sweeteners) and foods with MSG
or preservatives.

● Medications known to induce migraines include
ranitidine, estrogen, nitroglycerin, and nifedipine.

● Manage anger issues and handling conflict.
● Get adequate rest and sleep.
● Weather and altitude changes can trigger migraines for

some clients.
● Avoid light glare or flickering lights.
● Monitor menstrual cycle pattern and hormone

fluctuations. Hormone fluctuations during menstruation
and ovulation can trigger migraines.

● Avoid intense environmental odors, perfumes, and
tobacco smoke.

Complementary and alternative therapies
◯ Yoga, meditation, tai chi, exercise, biofeedback,

and massage promote relaxation and alleviate
muscle tension. Some might be offered at local
community centers.

◯ Acupuncture and acupressure therapy can be helpful
for pain management.

◯ Review herbal remedies and nutrition supplements
with the provider because there is insufficient
evidence to support their use in management of
migraines.

◯ An external trigeminal nerve stimulator is a wearable
headband that stimulates branches of the trigeminal
nerve associated with migraine attacks and pain,
to reduce discomfort. Do not use it for more than
20 min/day.

Cluster headaches

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● More frequent during spring and fall
● More common in males between 20 to 50 years of age

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Brief episode of intense, unilateral, nonthrobbing pain

lasting 15 min to 3 hr that can radiate to forehead,
temple, or cheek

◯ Occurring daily 1 to 8 times daily
◯ Followed by period of remission

● No aura or preliminary manifestations
● Less common than migraines
● Tearing of the eye with runny nose and nasal congestion
● Facial sweating
● Drooping eyelid and eyelid edema
● Miosis (pupil constriction)
● Facial pallor or flushing
● Bradycardia
● Nausea and vomiting
● Pacing, walking, or sitting and rocking activities

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

MediCATiONs
(See medications for migraine headaches.)

● Triptans
● Ergotamine preparations
● Antiepileptic medications
● Calcium channel blockers
● Corticosteroids
● Over-the-counter capsaicin
● Melatonin
● Glucosamine

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 11 HeAdACHes 65

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres
Home oxygen therapy at 12 L/min for 15 to 20 min at onset
of headache can provide relief within 15 min.

CLieNT edUCATiON
● Remain in a cool, dark, quiet environment with

head elevated.
● Remain in sitting position when using oxygen, and

maintain safety precautions when using oxygen in
the home.

● Complementary and alternative therapies can
promote relaxation.

● Avoid foods containing tyramine, MSG, and nitrites
(preservatives).

Prevention strategies
◯ Wear sunglasses to reduce light and glare.
◯ Obtain adequate rest and sleep, exercise,

and relaxation.

Risk factors (triggers) for headaches
◯ Anger outburst
◯ Anxiety and prolonged anticipation, or periods of stress
◯ Excessive physical activity, fatigue
◯ Altered sleep-wake cycles

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse in a clinic is interviewing a client who reports they
think they are having migraine headaches. Using the ATi
Active Learning Template: system disorder and the ATi
Pharmacology review Module to complete this item.

EXPECTED FINDINGS: identify three findings
common to migraine headaches in general.

DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES: describe guidelines
for diagnosing migraine headache pain.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: identify three actions the nurse
can take to assist the client with managing headaches.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse in a clinic is caring for a client who has frequent
migraine headaches. The client asks about foods that
can cause headaches. The nurse should recommend
that the client avoid which of the following foods?

A. Baked salmon

B. salted cashews

C. Frozen strawberries

d. Fresh asparagus

2. A nurse in a clinic is teaching a client who has a history
of migraine headaches about a new prescription for
zolmitriptan. Which of the following statements by
the client indicates understanding of the teaching?

A. “This medication will relieve my symptoms
by causing my blood vessels to dilate.”

B. “i should take this medication daily to
prevent the headache from occurring.”

C. “i should expect facial flushing
when i take this medication.”

d. “This medication will lower my
sensitivity to food triggers.”

3. A nurse in a provider’s office is obtaining a
health history from a client who has cluster
headaches. Which of the following are
expected findings? (select all that apply.)

A. Pain is bilateral across the posterior occipital area.

B. Client experiences altered sleep‑wake cycle.

C. Headache occurs approximately 1 to 8 times daily.

d. Client describes headache pain
as dull and throbbing.

e. Nasal congestion and drainage occur.

4. A nurse is providing discharge instructions to a client
who has a new diagnosis of migraine headaches. Which
of the following instructions should the nurse include?

A. Use music therapy for relaxation with
the onset of the headache.

B. increase physical activity when
a headache is present.

C. drink beverages that contain artificial
sweeteners to prevent headaches.

d. Apply a cool cloth to the face during a headache.

5. A nurse is obtaining a health history from a client who
is being evaluated for the cause of frequent headaches.
Which of the following questions should the nurse
ask to identify the aura type of migraine headaches?

A. “do the headaches occur multiple times each day?”

B. “is your headache accompanied
by profuse facial sweating?”

C. “does your headache occur on
one side of your head?”

d. “do you have the same manifestations
each time the headache occurs?”

66 CHAPTER 11 HeAdACHes CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. The client should avoid fish that is smoked because it
contains tyramine. Baked salmon does not contain tyramine
and is not a trigger for migraine headaches.

B. CORRECT: Nuts contain tyramine, which
can trigger migraine headaches.

C. Fruits are not a source of tyramine.
d. Vegetables are not a source of tyramine.

NCLEX® Connection: Basic Care and Comfort,
Nutrition and Oral Hydration

2. A. zolmitriptan causes cranial arteries, the basilar arteries,
and blood vessels in the dura mater to constrict.

B. zolmitriptan is used for abortive therapy in treating migraine
headaches. it is not used for headache prevention.

C. CORRECT: zolmitriptan can cause facial
flushing, tingling, and warmth.

d. zolmitriptan is used as a component of abortive
therapy for treatment of migraine headaches and does
not affect a client’s sensitivity to food triggers.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

3. A. Cluster headaches typically cause pain on one side of the
head and radiate to the forehead, temple, or cheek.

B. CORRECT: Cluster headaches can be due to a
lack of continuity in the sleep‑wake cycle.

C. CORRECT: Cluster headaches occur
approximately 1 to 8 times daily.

d. Cluster headaches are described as unilateral,
intense, and nonthrobbing.

e. CORRECT: A client can have a runny nose and
nasal congestion with a cluster headache.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

4. A. A quiet, dark environment can provide comfort
during a migraine headache.

B. increasing physical activity during a migraine
headache can worsen the pain.

C. Artificial sweeteners contain tyramine, which
can trigger a migraine headache.

d. CORRECT: A cool cloth placed over the client’s
eyes can provide comfort and relieve pain.

NCLEX® Connection: Basic Care and Comfort,
Non‑Pharmacological Comfort Interventions

5. A. Cluster headaches typically occur 1 to 8 times each day.
B. Profuse facial sweating is typical in the

presence of cluster headaches.
C. Unilateral headaches are associated with cluster

headaches and common migraines.
d. CORRECT: Clients who have aura type

migraines typically have the same manifestations
each time the headache occurs.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs:
● Throbbing, unilateral pain
● Family history of migraine headaches
● Associated manifestations last for 4 to 72 hr

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres: Neurologic imaging
is recommended if the client has a new onset of
headaches and is older than 50 years of age.

NUrsiNG iNTerVeNTiONs
● encourage the client to keep a journal to identify triggers
(food, environment, hormone fluctuations).

● Teach the client about medications that
can prevent or stop migraines

● discuss complementary strategies (yoga,
tai chi) to promote relaxation.

● Urge the client to discuss herbal supplements that
claim to provide migraine relief with the provider.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 12 disOrders OF THe eye 67

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: SENSORY DISORDERS

CHAPTER 12 Disorders of the Eye
disorders of the eye can be caused by injury,
disease processes, and the aging process.

disorders of the eye that nurses should
be knowledgeable about include macular
degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.

Macular degeneration
Macular degeneration, often called age-related macular
degeneration (AMD), is the central loss of vision that
affects the macula of the eye.

● There is no cure for macular degeneration.
● AMD is a common cause of vision loss in older adults.

Two types of macular degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is the most common and is
caused by a gradual blockage in retinal capillary arteries,
which results in the macula becoming ischemic and
necrotic due to the lack of retinal cells.

Wet macular degeneration is a less common form and is
caused by the new growth of blood vessels that have thin
walls that leak blood and fluid.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
Dry macular degeneration

● Smoking
● Hypertension
● Female sex
● Short body stature
● Family history
● Diet lacking carotene and vitamin E

Wet macular degeneration can occur at any age

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Lack of depth perception
● Objects appear distorted
● Blurred vision
● Loss of central vision
● Blindness

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
Ophthalmoscopy: An ophthalmoscope is used to examine
the back part of the eyeball (fundus), including the retina,
optic disc, macula, and blood vessels.

Visual acuity tests: Snellen and Rosenbaum eye charts.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

Wet macular degeneration
● Laser therapy to seal leaking blood vessels
● Ocular injections to inhibit blood vessel growth

◯ Ocular injections include an endothelial growth factor
inhibitor, bevacizumab, or ranibizumab.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Encourage clients to consume foods high in

antioxidants, carotene, and vitamins E and B12. The
provider may prescribe a daily supplement high in
carotene and vitamin E.

● As loss of vision progresses, clients be challenged with
the inability to eat, drive, write, and read, as well as
other activities of daily living.

● Refer clients to community organizations that can
assist with transportation, reading devices, and
large-print books.

Cataracts
A cataract is an opacity in the lens of an eye that
impairs vision. (12.1)

Common causes of cataracts

Age-related: Drying of lens due to water loss; increase in
lens density due to lens fiber compaction

Traumatic: Blunt or penetrating injury or foreign body in
the eye, exposure to radiation or ultra violet light

Toxic: Long term use of corticosteroids, phenothiazine
derivatives, beta blockers, or miotic medications

Associated: Diabetes mellitus, hypoparathyroidism,
Down syndrome, chronic sunlight exposure

Complicated: Intraocular disease (retinitis pigmentosa,
glaucoma, retinal detachment)

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Teach clients to wear sunglasses while outside.
● Educate clients to wear protective eyewear while playing

sports and performing hazardous activities, such as
welding and yard work.

● Encourage annual eye examinations and good eye
health, especially in adults over the age of 40.

CHAPTER 12

Online Image: Cataracts

68 CHAPTER 12 disOrders OF THe eye CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● Advanced age
● Diabetes
● Heredity
● Smoking
● Eye trauma
● Excessive exposure to the sun
● Chronic use of corticosteroids, phenothiazine

derivatives, beta blockers, or miotic medications

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Decreased visual acuity (prescription changes, reduced

night vision, decreased color perception)
● Blurred vision
● Diplopia (double vision)

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Progressive and painless loss of vision
● Visible opacity
● Absent red reflex

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
Cataracts can be determined upon examination of the lens
using an ophthalmoscope.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Check visual acuity using the Snellen chart.
● Examine external and internal eye structures using

an ophthalmoscope.
● Determine the client’s functional capacity due to

decreased vision.
● Increase the amount of light in a room.
● Provide adaptive devices that accommodate for

reduced vision.
◯ Magnifying lens and large print books/newspapers
◯ Talking devices, such as clocks

MediCATiONs
Anticholinergic agents (atropine 1%
ophthalmic solution): This medication
prevents pupil constriction for
prolonged periods of time (mydriasis)
and relaxes muscles in the eye
(cycloplegia). It is used to dilate the eye
preoperatively and for visualization of
the eye’s internal structures.

NURSING ACTIONS: The medication
has a long duration, but a fast onset.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Remind the client that the effects of the medication can

last 7 to 12 days.
● The medication can cause photosensitivity, so remind

the client to wear sunglasses to protect the eyes.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
Consult with an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) for
cataract surgery.

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres

Surgical removal of the lens

A small incision is made, and the lens is either removed in
one piece or in several pieces, after being broken up using
sound waves. The posterior capsule is retained. A replacement
or intraocular lens is inserted. Replacement lenses can
correct refractive errors, resulting in improved vision.

NURSING ACTIONS
Postoperative care should focus on the following.

● Preventing an increase in intraocular pressure.
● Preventing infection.
● Administering ophthalmic medications.
● Providing pain relief.
● Teaching the client about self-care at home and

fall prevention.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Wear sunglasses while outside or in brightly-lit areas.
● Report manifestations of infection, such as yellow or

green drainage.
● Avoid activities that increase IOP.

◯ Bending over at the waist
◯ Sneezing
◯ Blowing nose
◯ Coughing
◯ Straining
◯ Head hyperflexion
◯ Restrictive clothing, such as tight shirt collars
◯ Sexual intercourse

12.1 Normal and cataract-clouded lenses

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 12 disOrders OF THe eye 69

● Limit activities.
◯ Tilting the head back to wash hair
◯ Cooking and housekeeping
◯ Rapid, jerky movements, such as vacuuming
◯ Driving and operating machinery
◯ Playing sports

● Report pain with nausea/vomiting (indications of
increased IOP or hemorrhage).

● Best vision is not expected until 4 to 6 weeks following
the surgery.

● Report if any changes occur, such as lid swelling,
decreased vision, bleeding or discharge, sharp sudden
eye pain, flashes of light, or floating shapes.

COMPLICATIONS

Infection
● Infection can occur after surgery.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Manifestations of infection that
should be reported include yellow or green drainage,
increased redness or pain, reduction in visual acuity,
increased tear production, and photophobia.

Bleeding

Bleeding is a potential risk several days following surgery.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Immediately report any sudden
change in visual acuity or an increase in pain.

Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a disturbance of the functional or structural
integrity of the optic nerve. Decreased fluid drainage or
increased fluid secretion increases intraocular pressure
(IOP) and can cause atrophic changes of the optic nerve
and visual defects. The expected reference range for IOP is
10 to 21 mm/Hg.

● There are two primary types of glaucoma.
◯ Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG): This is the
more common form. Open-angle refers to the angle
between the iris and sclera. The aqueous humor
outflow is decreased due to blockages in the eye’s
drainage system (Canal of Schlemm and trabecular
meshwork), causing a gradual rise in IOP.

◯ Primary angle-closure glaucoma: IOP rises suddenly.
The angle between the iris and the sclera suddenly
closes, causing a corresponding increase in IOP. The
onset is sudden and requires immediate treatment.

● Glaucoma is a frequent cause of blindness. Early
diagnosis and treatment is essential in preventing
vision loss from glaucoma.

● Secondary glaucoma can result from trauma, eye
surgery, tumors of the eye, uveitis, iritis, neovascular
disorders, degenerative disease, or central retinal
vein occlusion.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Encourage annual eye examinations and good eye
health, especially adults over the age of 40.

● Educate clients about the disease process and early
indications of glaucoma, such as reduced vision and
mild eye pain.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● Age
● Infection
● Tumors
● Diabetes mellitus
● Genetic predisposition
● Hypertension
● Eye trauma
● Severe myopia
● Retinal detachment

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs

Primary open‑angle glaucoma
● Headache
● Mild eye pain
● Loss of peripheral vision
● Decreased accommodation
● Halos seen around lights
● Elevated IOP (greater than 21 mm Hg: usually 22 to 32)

Primary angle‑closure glaucoma
● Rapid onset of elevated IOP (30 mm Hg or higher)
● Decreased or blurred vision
● Colored halos seen around lights
● Pupils nonreactive to light
● Severe pain and nausea
● Photophobia

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
Visual assessments: Measures decrease in visual acuity
and peripheral vision

Tonometry: Measures IOP (expected reference range is 10
to 21 mm Hg). IOP is elevated with glaucoma, especially
angle-closure.

Gonioscopy: Used to determine the drainage angle of the
anterior chamber of the eyes

70 CHAPTER 12 disOrders OF THe eye CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Monitor for increased IOP (greater than 21 mm Hg).
● Monitor for decreased vision and light sensitivity.
● Assess for aching or discomfort around the eye.
● Explain the disease process and allow clients to express

their feelings.
● Treat severe pain and nausea that accompanies

angle-closure glaucoma with analgesics and antiemetics.

MediCATiONs
The priority intervention for treating glaucoma is
medication therapy.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Prescribed eye medication is beneficial if used every 12 hr.
● Instill one drop in each eye twice daily.
● Wait 5 to 10 min between eye drops if more than

one is prescribed to prevent one medication from
diluting another.

● Avoid touching the tip of the application bottle to the eye.
● Always wash hands before and after use.
● Once an eye drop is instilled, apply pressure using the

punctal occlusion technique (placing pressure on the
inner corner of the eye).

Cholinergic agents (carbachol,
echothiophate, pilocarpine)

These are miotic medications, which constrict the pupil
and allows for improved circulation and outflow of
the aqueous humor. Miotics can cause blurred vision.
Pilocarpine is considered a second-line drug for POAG.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Use good lighting to avoid falls.

Adrenergic agonists (apraclonidine, brimonidine
tartrate, dipivefrin hydrochloride)

These medications reduce intraocular pressure by limiting
production of aqueous humor and dilates the pupils to
improve the fluid flow to the site of absorption.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Wear sunglasses in bright light
because of pupil dilation.

Beta blockers (timolol)

Beta blockers are first-line drug therapy for glaucoma, and
decrease IOP by reducing aqueous humor production.

NURSING CONSIDERATIONS: Can be absorbed systemically
and cause bronchoconstriction and hypoglycemia. Use
with caution in clients who have asthma, COPD, and
diabetes mellitus. Can potentiate systemic effects of oral
beta-blockers and cause bradycardia and hypotension.

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (acetazolamide,
dorzolamide, and brinzolamide)

Decrease IOP by reducing aqueous humor production.

NURSING ACTIONS: Ask clients whether they are allergic
to sulfa. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are sulfa-based.

Prostaglandin analogs

Prostaglandin analogs, such as bimatoprost and
latanoprost, increase outflow of the uveosclera by dilating
blood vessels in the trabecular mesh where aqueous
humor is collected and then drains the humor at a more
rapid rate.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Check for corneal abrasions and do not instill this

medication if the corneal is not intact.
● Can cause the iris to change color by darkening with

long-term use.

Systemic osmotics (IV mannitol, oral glycerin)

IV mannitol is an osmotic diuretic used in the emergency
treatment for primary angle-closure glaucoma to quickly
decrease IOP.

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres

Glaucoma surgery

Laser trabeculectomy, iridotomy, or the placement of a
shunt are procedures used to improve the flow of the
aqueous humor by opening a channel out of the anterior
chamber of the eye.

NURSING ACTIONS: Educate clients about the disease and
importance of adhering to the medication schedule to
treat IOP.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Wear sunglasses while outside or in brightly-lit areas.
● Report manifestations of infection, such as yellow or

green drainage.
● Avoid activities that increase IOP.

◯ Bending over at the waist
◯ Sneezing
◯ Coughing
◯ Straining
◯ Head hyperflexion
◯ Restrictive clothing, such as tight shirt collars
◯ Sexual intercourse

● Do not lie on the operative side and report severe pain
or nausea (possible hemorrhage).

● Report if any changes occur (lid swelling,
decreased vision, bleeding, discharge, a sharp, sudden
pain in the eye, flashes of light, floating shapes).

● Limit activities.
◯ Tilting head back to wash hair
◯ Cooking and housekeeping
◯ Rapid, jerky movements, such as vacuuming
◯ Driving and operating machinery
◯ Playing sports

● Report pain with nausea/vomiting (indications of
increased IOP or hemorrhage).

● Final best vision is not expected until 4 to 6 weeks
after surgery.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 12 disOrders OF THe eye 71

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
Refer to an ophthalmologist if surgery is necessary.

CLieNT edUCATiON
Set up services such as community outreach programs,
meals on wheels, and services for the blind.

COMPLICATIONS

Blindness

Blindness is a potential consequence of
untreated glaucoma.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Have regular glaucoma checks.
● Before age 40: every 2 to 4 years
● Ages 40 to 54: every 1 to 3 years
● Ages 55 to 64: every 1 to 2 years
● Ages 65 and over: every 6 to 12 months

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is reviewing discharge instructions for a client who
has a new diagnosis of primary open‑angle glaucoma and
a new prescription for timolol 0.25% eye drops. Use the
ATi Active Learning Template: Medication and the ATi
Pharmacology review Module to complete this item.

COMPLICATIONS: List at least three adverse
effects that should be included in the teaching.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who has diabetes
mellitus and reports a gradual loss of peripheral
vision. The nurse should recognize this as a
manifestation of which of the following diseases?

A. Cataracts

B. Open‑angle glaucoma

C. Macular degeneration

d. Angle‑closure glaucoma

2. A nurse is providing postoperative teaching to a client
following cataract surgery. Which of the following
statements should the nurse include in the teaching?

A. “you can resume playing golf in 2 days.”

B. “you need to tilt your head back
when washing your hair.”

C. “you can get water in your eyes in 1 day.”

d. “you need to limit your housekeeping activities.”

3. A nurse is caring for a male older adult client who
has a new diagnosis of glaucoma. Which of the
following should the nurse recognize as risk factors
associated with this disease? (select all that apply.)

A. sex

B. Genetic predisposition

C. Hypertension

d. Age

e. diabetes mellitus

4. A nurse is caring for a client who has a new diagnosis
of cataracts. Which of the following manifestations
should the nurse expect? (select all that apply.)

A. eye pain

B. Floating spots

C. Blurred vision

d. White pupils

e. Bilateral red reflexes

5. A nurse is providing teaching for a client who has
a new diagnosis of dry macular degeneration.
Which of the following instructions should
the nurse include in the teaching?

A. increase intake of deep yellow
and orange vegetables.

B. Administer eye drops twice daily.

C. Avoid bending at the waist.

d. Wear an eye patch at night.

72 CHAPTER 12 disOrders OF THe eye CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. A client who has cataracts experiences a decrease in
peripheral and central vision due to opacity of the lens.

B. CORRECT: This is a manifestation of open‑angle
glaucoma. A gradual loss of peripheral vision is a
manifestation associated with this diagnosis.

C. A client who has macular degeneration
experiences a loss of central vision.

d. A client who has angle‑closure glaucoma experiences
sudden nausea, severe pain, and halos around lights.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Screening

2. A. do not instruct the client to resume playing golf for
several weeks. This could cause a rise in intraocular
pressure (iOP) or possible injury to the eye.

B. do not instruct the client to tilt the head back
when washing their hair. This could cause a rise
in iOP or possible injury to the eye.

C. The client should not get water in their eyes for
3 to 7 days following cataract surgery to reduce
the risk for infection and promote healing.

d. CORRECT: instruct the client to limit housekeeping
activities following cataract surgery. This activity
could cause a rise in iOP or injury to the eye.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

3. A. sex is not a risk factor associated with glaucoma.
B. CORRECT: Genetic predisposition is a risk

factor associated with glaucoma.
C. CORRECT: Hypertension is a risk factor

associated with glaucoma.
d. CORRECT: Age is a risk factor associated with glaucoma.
e. CORRECT: diabetes mellitus is a risk factor

associated with glaucoma.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

4. A. eye pain is a manifestation associated with
primary angle‑closure glaucoma.

B. Floating spots are a manifestation associated
with retinal detachment.

C. CORRECT: Blurred vision is a manifestation
associated with cataracts.

d. CORRECT: White pupils are a manifestation
associated with cataracts.

e. Bilateral red reflexes are absent in a client who has cataracts.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

5. A. CORRECT: instruct the client to increase dietary
intake of carotenoids and antioxidants to slow the
progression of the macular degeneration.

B. A client who has primary open‑angle glaucoma
should administer eye drops twice daily.

C. A client who is at risk for increased intraocular
pressure, such as following cataract surgery,
should avoid bending at the waist.

d. A client who has had eye surgery, such as
cataract surgery, should wear an eye patch at
night to protect the eye from injury.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Unexpected Response to Therapies

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Medication

COMPLICATIONS
● CNs: Lethargy, fatigue, anxiety, headache, somnolence, depression
● CV: Bradycardia, palpitations, syncope, hypotension,
AV conduction disturbances, CHF

● specific senses: eye stinging, tearing, photophobia, eye irritation
● Gi: Nausea, dry mouth
● respiratory: difficulty breathing, bronchospasm
● Metabolic: Hypoglycemia

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 13 MiddLe ANd iNNer eAr disOrders 73

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: SENSORY DISORDERS

CHAPTER 13 Middle and Inner
Ear Disorders

The ear is a sensory organ with two functions:
hearing and balance.

The middle ear consists of the tympanic membrane
(eardrum) and the three smallest bones (ossicles) of
the body (malleus, incus, and stapes), and connects
to the nasopharynx via the eustachian tube.

The inner ear is located deep within the
temporal bone, separated from the middle
ear by the oval window. it consists of the
cochlea (hearing organ) and semicircular canals
(responsible for balance). Cranial nerves Vii
(facial nerve) and Viii (vestibulocochlear nerve)
are part of the inner ear anatomy.

Visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems
provide the brain with input regarding balance.
Problems within any of these systems pose a risk
for loss of balance.

Nurses should be knowledgeable about the
types of middle‑ and inner‑ear disorders,
including infection, tumors, and issues with
balance and coordination.

TyPes OF eAr disOrders

Hearing loss
● Environmental or workplace exposure to noise can lead

to hearing loss.
● Conductive hearing loss is caused by factors such as

otitis media, otosclerosis, and presence of a foreign body
(such as impacted cerumen).

● Color of cerumen and external ear canal varies
depending on client’s race and skin tone. Normal
variations should be recognized during assessment.

● Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to
cranial nerve VIII.

● Combined hearing loss is caused by a mixture of
conductive and sensorineural problems.

● Changes in the middle and inner ear related to aging
include thickening of the tympanic membrane (loss of
elasticity), loss of sensory hair cells in the organ of
Corti, and limitations to movement of the ossicles.

Conditions of the middle ear
● Conditions of the middle ear can be caused by injury,

disease, and the aging process.
● Acute otitis media is a viral or bacterial infection of the

middle ear.
● Manifestations include ear pain, pressure, fever,

headache, conductive hearing loss, and purulent or
bloody drainage if perforation of the eardrum occurs.

● An otoscopic exam can show redness, bulging tympanic
membrane, and inability to visualize usual landmarks.

● Medical management includes systemic antibiotic
therapy, analgesics and application of heat for pain,
and decongestants.

● Surgical management includes myringotomy (opening
of the eardrum made surgically) and placement of a
grommet to equalize pressure.

● Refer to RN NURSING CARE OF CHILDREN REVIEW MODULE:

CHAPTER 37: ACUTE OTITIS MEDIA.

Conditions of the inner ear
● Vertigo occurs when the client has the sensation that

they or their surroundings are in motion.
● Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo occurs in response

to a change in position. It is thought to be caused by the
disruption of the debris located within the semicircular
canal (small crystals of calcium carbonate). Onset is
sudden and can last for a few weeks or years. Bed rest is
prescribed along with short course of meclizine.

● Ménière’s disease is characterized by episodic
vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and fluctuating
sensorineural hearing loss.

● Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the labyrinth in
the inner ear, often secondary to otitis media. It is
characterized by the sudden onset of severe vertigo,
nausea, vomiting, and possible hearing loss and tinnitus.
Manifestations are treated with bed rest in a darkened
environment. Meclizine or dimenhydrinate is prescribed
for nausea and vertigo. Systemic antibiotic therapy can
also be prescribed.

CHAPTER 13

74 CHAPTER 13 MiddLe ANd iNNer eAr disOrders CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
Middle ear disorders

● Recurrent colds and otitis media
● Enlarged adenoids
● Trauma
● Changes in air pressure (scuba diving, flying)

Inner ear disorders
● Viral or bacterial infection
● Damage due to ototoxic medications

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
Middle ear disorders

● Hearing loss
● Feeling of fullness and/or pain in the ear
● Red, inflamed ear canal and tympanic membrane (TM)
● Bulging TM
● Fluid and/or bubbles behind TM
● Diffuse appearance of or inability to visualize normal

light reflex
● Fever

Inner ear disorders
● Hearing loss
● Tinnitus
● Dizziness or vertigo
● Vomiting
● Nystagmus
● Alterations in balance

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres

Audiometry

Audiometry is a noninvasive test of hearing ability,
including frequency, pitch, and intensity. The client
indicates when a tone is heard through earphones. Nurses
might collaborate with an audiologist for this and other
diagnostic procedures.

Tympanogram

Tympanogram measures the mobility of the TM and
middle ear structures relative to sound (effective in
diagnosing middle ear disease).

Weber and Rinne tests

Weber and Rinne tests use tuning forks to determine
whether hearing loss is present.

Otoscopy

An otoscope is used to examine the external auditory
canal, TM, and malleus bone visible through the TM.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Otoscopic examination is done if audiometry results

indicate possible impairment or if a client reports ear pain.
● After selection of a properly-sized speculum, an otoscope

is introduced into the external ear.
● If the ear canal curves, pull up and back on the auricle

of adults, and down and back on the auricle of children,
to straighten out the canal and enhance visualization.

● The TM should be a pearly gray color and intact. It
should provide complete structural separation of the
outer and middle ear structures.

● The light reflex should be visible from the center of the
TM anteriorly (5 o’clock right ear; 7 o’clock left ear). (13.1)

● In the presence of fluid or infection in the middle ear,
the TM becomes inflamed and can bulge from the
pressure of the exudate. This also displaces the light
reflex, causing it to look diffuse or completely obscured,
a significant diagnostic finding.

● Avoid touching the lining of the ear canal, which causes
pain due to sensitivity.

CLIENT EDUCATION: To see the TM clearly, the auricle
might need to be firmly pulled.

Electronystagmography (ENG)

ENG detects involuntary eye movements (nystagmus) in
order to assess for disease of the vestibular system of the
ear. Electrodes are taped near the eyes, and movements
of the eyes are recorded when the ear canal is stimulated
with cold water instillation or injection of air. Recording
of eye movements can be interpreted by a specialist as
either normal or abnormal.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Intraprocedure, the nurse should ask simple questions

(name recall, math problems) to ensure the client
remains alert.

● The client should be maintained on bed rest and NPO
postprocedure until vertigo subsides.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Fast immediately before the procedure, and restrict

caffeine, alcohol, sedatives, and antihistamines for
several days prior to the test.

● This test is not performed on clients who
have a pacemaker. (Pacemaker signals inhibit
sensitivity of ENG.)

Caloric testing
● Caloric testing can be done concurrently with ENG.
● Water (warmer or cooler than body temperature) is

instilled in the ear in an effort to induce nystagmus.
● The eyes’ response to the instillation of cold and warm

water is diagnostic of vestibular disorders.

NURSING ACTIONS: The client should follow the same
restrictions as those for an ENG.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Be aware of the above restrictions.

Online Image: Light Reflex

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 13 MiddLe ANd iNNer eAr disOrders 75

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Monitor functional ability and balance. Take fall risk

precautions as necessary.
● Evaluate the client’s home situation. Collaborate with

home health to assess home safety and falls risks,
as needed.

● Encourage a client who has balance or functional
limitations to rise slowly and use assistance and
assistive devices as needed.

● Monitor blood levels of ototoxic medication, and teach
clients about adverse effects. Routine audiometry is
indicated with use of ototoxic IV antibiotics. Ototoxic
medications include the following.

◯ Antibiotics: gentamicin, erythromycin
◯ Diuretics: furosemide, ethacrynic acid
◯ NSAIDs: aspirin, ibuprofen
◯ Chemotherapeutic agents: cisplatin

● Assist with ENG and caloric testing as needed.
● Administer antivertigo and antiemetic medications

as needed.

MediCATiONs

Meclizine
● Meclizine has antihistamine and anticholinergic effects

and is used to treat the vertigo that accompanies inner
ear problems.

● NURSING ACTIONS: Observe for sedation, and take
appropriate precautions to ensure safe ambulation.

● CLIENT EDUCATION: Be aware of the sedative
effects of meclizine. (Avoid driving or operating
heavy machinery.)

Antiemetics

Ondansetron is one of several antiemetics used to treat
nausea and vomiting associated with vertigo.

NURSING ACTIONS: Contraindicated for clients who have
certain cardiac rhythm disorders.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Report dizziness or rash.

13.1 Light reflex
Otoscopy

An otoscope is used to examine the external auditory
canal, TM, and malleus bone visible through the TM.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Otoscopic examination is done if audiometry results

indicate possible impairment or if a client reports ear pain.
● After selection of a properly-sized speculum, an otoscope

is introduced into the external ear.
● If the ear canal curves, pull up and back on the auricle

of adults, and down and back on the auricle of children,
to straighten out the canal and enhance visualization.

● The TM should be a pearly gray color and intact. It
should provide complete structural separation of the
outer and middle ear structures.

● The light reflex should be visible from the center of the
TM anteriorly (5 o’clock right ear; 7 o’clock left ear). (13.1)

● In the presence of fluid or infection in the middle ear,
the TM becomes inflamed and can bulge from the
pressure of the exudate. This also displaces the light
reflex, causing it to look diffuse or completely obscured,
a significant diagnostic finding.

● Avoid touching the lining of the ear canal, which causes
pain due to sensitivity.

CLIENT EDUCATION: To see the TM clearly, the auricle
might need to be firmly pulled.

Electronystagmography (ENG)

ENG detects involuntary eye movements (nystagmus) in
order to assess for disease of the vestibular system of the
ear. Electrodes are taped near the eyes, and movements
of the eyes are recorded when the ear canal is stimulated
with cold water instillation or injection of air. Recording
of eye movements can be interpreted by a specialist as
either normal or abnormal.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Intraprocedure, the nurse should ask simple questions

(name recall, math problems) to ensure the client
remains alert.

● The client should be maintained on bed rest and NPO
postprocedure until vertigo subsides.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Fast immediately before the procedure, and restrict

caffeine, alcohol, sedatives, and antihistamines for
several days prior to the test.

● This test is not performed on clients who
have a pacemaker. (Pacemaker signals inhibit
sensitivity of ENG.)

Caloric testing
● Caloric testing can be done concurrently with ENG.
● Water (warmer or cooler than body temperature) is

instilled in the ear in an effort to induce nystagmus.
● The eyes’ response to the instillation of cold and warm

water is diagnostic of vestibular disorders.

NURSING ACTIONS: The client should follow the same
restrictions as those for an ENG.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Be aware of the above restrictions.

Online Image: Light Reflex

76 CHAPTER 13 MiddLe ANd iNNer eAr disOrders CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Diphenhydramine and dimenhydrinate

Antihistamines are effective in the treatment of vertigo
and nausea that accompany inner ear problems.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for urinary retention.
● Observe for sedation, and take appropriate precautions

to ensure safe ambulation.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Be aware of the sedative effects. (Avoid driving or

operating heavy machinery.)
● Dry mouth is expected.

Scopolamine
● Anticholinergics, such as scopolamine, are effective

in the treatment of nausea that accompanies inner
ear problems.

● It is available transdermally and is used for
motion sickness.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for urinary retention.
● Observe for sedation, and take appropriate precautions

to ensure safe ambulation.
● Monitor clients who have open-angle glaucoma for

increasing eye pressure. Contraindicated in clients who
have angle-closure glaucoma.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Be aware of the sedative effects. (Avoid driving or

operating heavy machinery.)
● Dry mouth is expected.

Diazepam

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine that has a sedative effect
that decreases stimuli to the cerebellum.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for sedation, and take appropriate precautions

to ensure safe ambulation.
● Restrict use in clients who have closed-angle glaucoma.
● For older adult clients, use the smallest effective dose

(prevent oversedation, ataxia).

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Be aware of the sedative effects of diazepam. (Avoid

driving or operating heavy machinery.)
● Be aware of diazepam’s addictive properties and

appropriate use of the medication.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
Vestibular rehabilitation is an option for clients who
experience frequent episodes of vertigo or are
incapacitated due to vertigo. A team of providers treats the
cause and teaches the client exercises that can help them
adapt to and minimize the effects of vertigo. A
combination of biofeedback, physical therapy, and stress
management can be used. Postural education can teach
the client positions to avoid and positional exercises that
can terminate an attack of vertigo.

13.2 Cochlear implant

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 13 MiddLe ANd iNNer eAr disOrders 77

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres

Vertigo‑reducing activities

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Prevent stimulation/exacerbation of vertigo.
● Restrict movement of the head, and change

positions slowly.
● Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
● Rest in a quiet, darkened environment when vertigo

is severe.
● Use assistive devices (cane, walker) as needed for safe

ambulation to assist with balance.
● Maintain a safe environment free of clutter.
● Take a diuretic, if prescribed, to decrease the amount of

fluid in semicircular canals.
● Space intake of fluids evenly throughout the day.
● Decrease intake of salt and sodium-containing foods

(processed meats, MSG).
● Resume these precautions if vertigo returns.

SURGICAL INTERVENTIONS
● Pressure point treatment involves inserting a

tympanostomy tube, which applies micropulses at
intervals to relieve the vertigo of Ménière’s disease by
displacing fluid of the inner ear.

● Myringotomy is an incision to the tympanic membrane
to drain fluid from the middle ear to prevent ear drum
perforation in otitis media. For persistent otitis media,
a pressure-equalizing tube or grommet can be inserted
to temporarily take the place of the Eustachian tube. It
stays in place for 6 to 18 months. Stapedectomy

A stapedectomy is a surgical procedure of the middle
ear in which the stapes is removed and replaced with
a prosthesis.

● The procedure is done through the external ear
canal and TM.

● The TM is repaired, and sterile ear packing is
placed postoperatively.

● The procedure is done when otosclerosis has developed
and the bones of the middle ear fuse together.

● Otosclerosis is one of the causes of conductive hearing
loss in older adults.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for facial nerve damage.
● Intervene for vertigo, nausea, and vomiting (common

findings following the procedure).

Cochlear implant for sensorineural hearing loss
● Cochlear implants consist of a microphone that picks

up sound, a speech processor, a transmitter and
receiver that convert sounds into electric impulses, and
electrodes that are attached to the auditory nerve. (13.2)

● The implant’s transmitter is located outside the head
behind the ear and connects via a magnet to the receiver
located immediately below it, under the skin.

● Young children and adults who lost their hearing after
speech development adapt to cochlear implants more
quickly than those who were born totally deaf.

● Intensive and prolonged language training is necessary
for individuals who did not develop speech.

NURSING ACTIONS: Follow pre-, intra-, and postoperative
outpatient surgery guidelines.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Immediately after surgery, the unit is not turned on.
● The external unit is applied and the speech processor is

programmed 2 to 6 weeks after surgery.
● Be aware of precautions to prevent infection.
● Avoid MRIs.

Labyrinthectomy

A labyrinthectomy is a surgical treatment for vertigo that
involves removal of the labyrinthine portion of the inner ear.

NURSING ACTIONS: Client will have severe nausea and
vertigo postoperatively. Take appropriate safety
precautions and give antiemetics as needed.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Hearing loss is to be expected in the
affected ear.

CLieNT edUCATiON FOLLOWiNG
MiddLe eAr sUrGery

● Avoid air travel for 2 to 3 weeks.
● Avoid straining or coughing, and blow nose gently with

the mouth open for 2 to 3 weeks following surgery.
● Keep ear canal clean and dry. Avoid washing hair or

showering for several days to 1 week.
● When able to shower, loosely place a cotton ball with

petroleum jelly into the ear canal to prevent water
from entering.

● Expect some temporary hearing loss in the affected ear
due to presence of fluid or packing.

● Drainage from the ear canal should be reported to
the provider.

78 CHAPTER 13 MiddLe ANd iNNer eAr disOrders CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is performing an otoscopic examination of a
client. Which of the following is an unexpected finding?

A. Pearly gray tympanic membrane (TM)

B. Malleus visible behind the TM

C. Presence of soft cerumen in the external canal

d. Fluid or bubbles seen behind the TM

2. A nurse is reviewing the health record of a client
who has severe otitis media. Which of the following
are expected findings? (select all that apply.)

A. enlarged adenoids

B. report of recent colds

C. Client prescription for daily furosemide

d. Light reflex visible on otoscopic
exam in the affected ear

e. ear pain relieved by meclizine

3. A nurse in a clinic is caring for a client who has been
experiencing mild to moderate vertigo due to benign
paroxysmal vertigo for several weeks. Which of the
following actions should the nurse recommend to
help control the vertigo? (select all that apply.)

A. reduce exposure to bright lighting.

B. Move head slowly when changing positions.

C. do not eat fruit high in potassium.

d. Plan evenly‑spaced daily fluid intake.

e. Avoid fluids containing caffeine.

4. A nurse is caring for a client who has
suspected Ménière’s disease. Which of the
following is an expected finding?

A. Presence of a purulent lesion in
the external ear canal

B. Feeling of pressure in the ear

C. Bulging, red bilateral tympanic membranes

d. Unilateral hearing loss

5. A nurse is completing discharge teaching to
a client following middle ear surgery. Which
of the following statements by the client
indicates understanding of the teaching?

A. “i should restrict rapid movements and avoid
bending from the waist for several weeks.”

B. “i should wait until the day after
surgery to wash my hair.”

C. “i will remove the dressing
behind my ear in 7 days.”

d. “My hearing should be back to
normal right after my surgery.”

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse in a clinic is completing preoperative teaching for an
adult client who will receive a cochlear implant. What should
the nurse include in the teaching? Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: Therapeutic Procedure to complete this item.

DESCRIPTION OF PROCEDURE: describe a cochlear implant.

INDICATIONS: describe the indication for a cochlear implant.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: List at least four.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 13 MiddLe ANd iNNer eAr disOrders 79

Application Exercises Key

1. A. A pearly gray TM is an expected finding
during an otoscopic examination.

B. Visualization of the malleus behind the TM is an
expected finding during an otoscopic examination.

C. Cerumen of various colors, depending on the
client’s skin color or ethnic background, is an
expected finding in the external ear canal.

d. CORRECT: Fluid behind the TM indicates the possibility
of otitis media and is not an expected finding.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

2. A. CORRECT: enlarged tonsils and adenoids are a finding
associated with a middle ear infection.

B. CORRECT: Frequent colds are findings
associated with a middle ear infection.

C. Furosemide is an ototoxic medication and can cause
sensorineural hearing loss, but taking furosemide
does not cause a middle ear disorder.

d. Light reflexes are absent or in altered positions
in a client who has a middle ear disorder.

e. Meclizine is prescribed to relieve vertigo
for inner ear disorders, but does not relieve
the pain of a middle ear infection.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

3. A. CORRECT: remaining in a darkened, quiet environment
can reduce vertigo, particularly when it is severe.

B. CORRECT: Moving slowly when standing or
changing positions can reduce vertigo.

C. The client who has vertigo should be instructed
to avoid foods containing high levels of sodium to
reduce fluid retention, which can cause vertigo.

d. CORRECT: Fluid intake should be planned so that it is
evenly spaced throughout the day to prevent excess
fluid accumulation in the semicircular canals.

e. The client should avoid fluids containing
caffeine or alcohol to minimize vertigo.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

4. A. Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder. A purulent lesion
in the external ear canal is not an expected finding.

B. A feeling of pressure in the ear can occur with otitis
media, but is not an expected finding in Ménière’s.

C. Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder. Bulging,
red bilateral tympanic membranes is a finding
associated with a middle ear infection.

d. CORRECT: Unilateral sensorineural hearing loss is
an expected finding in Ménière’s disease.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

5. A. CORRECT: rapid movements and bending from the waist
should be avoided for 3 weeks following ear surgery.

B. Avoid showering and washing hair for at least
several days up to 1 week following ear surgery.
The ear must remain dry during this time.

C. Middle ear surgery is performed through the tympanic
membrane, and the client will have a dry dressing
within the ear canal. There is no external excision.

d. decreased hearing is expected following middle
ear surgery due to presence of a dressing within
the ear canal and possible drainage.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Therapeutic Procedure

DESCRIPTION OF PROCEDURE: A cochlear implant consists of a
microphone to pick up sound, a speech processor, a transmitter
and receiver to convert sounds into electrical impulses, and
electrodes that are attached to the auditory nerve. The implant’s
transmitter is placed outside the head, behind the ear, via a magnet
that attaches to the receiver located under the skin below it.

INDICATIONS: A cochlear implant is performed
for sensorineural hearing loss.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● Pre‑ and postoperative teaching is completed.
● intraoperative care is provided in an outpatient setting.
● Client education includes:

◯ The unit is not turned on immediately after surgery.
◯ The external unit is applied and the speech processor
is programmed 2 to 6 weeks after surgery.

◯ Prevent infection.
◯ Mris should be avoided.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

80 CHAPTER 13 MiddLe ANd iNNer eAr disOrders CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 14 HeAd iNJUry 81

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: NEUROLOGIC EMERGENCIES

CHAPTER 14 Head Injury
Head injuries are classified as open or closed.
in an open head injury, the integrity of the
skull is compromised by either a penetrating
object or blunt force trauma. A closed
head injury occurs from blunt trauma that
causes acceleration of the head and then
deceleration or hits a stationary object. Head
injuries are also classified as mild, moderate,
or severe, depending upon Glasgow Coma
scale ratings and the length of time the client
was unconscious.

TyPes OF BrAiN iNJUry
● Types of brain injury include concussion, contusion,

diffuse axonal injury, and intracranial hemorrhage.
◯ A concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury ,
occurs after head trauma that results in a change
in the client’s neurologic function but no identified
brain damage and usually resolves within 72 hr.
Post-concussion syndrome includes persistence
of cognitive and physical manifestations for an
unknown period of time.

◯ A contusion occurs when the brain is bruised and the
client has a period of unconsciousness associated with
stupor and or confusion.

◯ Diffuse axonal injury is a widespread injury to the
brain that results in coma and is seen in severe
head trauma.

◯ Intracranial hemorrhage can occur in the epidural,
subdural, or intracerebral space. It is a collection of
blood following head trauma. There can be a delay of
weeks to months in presenting manifestations for a
subacute or chronic subdural hematoma.

● Open-head injuries pose a high risk for infection. Scalp
injuries often result in profuse bleeding due to the poor
vasoconstriction of the blood vessels of the scalp.

● Skull fractures can occur following forceful head
injury. The brain might be damaged as a result. The
client can have localized pain at the site of the fracture,
and swelling can occur. The nurse should be alert
for drainage from the ears or eyes (cerebral spinal
fluid [CSF]).

● A cervical spine injury should always be suspected when
a head injury occurs. A cervical spine injury must be
ruled out prior to removing any devices used to stabilize
the cervical spine.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Wear helmets when skateboarding, riding a bike or
motorcycle, skiing, and playing football or any other
sport that could cause a head injury.

● Wear seat belts when driving or riding in a car.
● Avoid dangerous activities (speeding, driving under the

influence of alcohol or drugs).
● Owners of firearms should lock all firearms.
● Avoid riding in the back of a pick-up truck.
● Promote programs directed at older adults to prevent

falls, which are a major cause of neurologic injury in
adults ages 65 to 75. Older adults who sustain head
injuries are at greater risk for complications
(hematomas) due to increased adherence of dura mater
to skull and because of higher rates of anticoagulants
prescribed to the older population.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● Motor vehicle or motorcycle crashes
● Illicit drug and alcohol use
● Sports injuries
● Assault
● Gunshot wounds
● Falls

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Amnesia (loss of memory) before or after the injury.
● Loss of consciousness: Length of time the client is

unconscious is significant.
● CSF leakage from the nose and ears can indicate a

basilar skull fracture. Test for the “halo sign,” clear or
yellow-tinted ring surrounding a drop of blood when
bloody drainage is placed on a piece of gauze.

● Manifestations of increased intracranial pressure
◯ Severe headache, nausea, vomiting
◯ Deteriorating level of consciousness, restlessness,
irritability

◯ Dilated or pinpoint nonreactive pupils
◯ Cranial nerve dysfunction
◯ Alteration in breathing pattern (Cheyne-Stokes
respirations, central neurogenic hyperventilation, apnea)

◯ Deterioration in motor function, abnormal posturing
(decerebrate, decorticate, flaccidity)

◯ Cushing’s triad: a late finding characterized by severe
hypertension with a widening pulse pressure (systolic

– diastolic) and bradycardia
◯ Seizures

CHAPTER 14

82 CHAPTER 14 HeAd iNJUry CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

LABOrATOry TesTs
● ABGs
● CBC with differential
● Blood glucose level
● Electrolyte levels
● Blood and urine osmolarity
● Toxicology screen
● Monitor anti-seizure medication blood levels

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
● Cervical spine films to diagnose a cervical spine injury
● Computerized tomography (CT) and/or a magnetic

resonance imaging (MRI) of the head and/or neck (with
and without contrast if indicated)

● Calculation of cerebral perfusion using the ICP monitor,
if it is in place

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Support of the family following head injury is of great

importance. Effective coping can be very difficult to
achieve without support from providers and community
members. The Brain Injury Association of America
provides families and clients with information needed
to cope with this potentially devastating injury.

● The family can face difficult decisions following head
injury. If brain death has occurred, the family needs
support when deciding whether to donate organs.

● Maintain cervical spine stability until cleared by
an x-ray.

● Report presence of CSF from nose or ears to the provider.
● Determine whether the client could possibly be under

the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs, or medications
which could impair neurologic responsiveness and
affect monitoring.

● Implement measures to prevent complications of
immobility (turn every 2 hr, footboard, and splints).
Specialty beds can be used.

● Monitor fluid and electrolyte values and osmolality to
detect changes in sodium regulation, onset of diabetes
insipidus, or severe hypovolemia.

● Provide adequate fluids to maintain cerebral perfusion
and to minimize cerebral edema. When a large amount
of IV fluids are prescribed, monitor for excess fluid
volume which could increase ICP.

● Maintain safety and seizure precautions (side rails up,
padded side rails, call light within the client’s reach).

● Even if the level of consciousness is decreased, explain
to the client the actions being taken and why. (Hearing
is the last sense affected by a head injury.)

Assess/monitor the client at
regularly scheduled intervals

Respiratory status (the priority assessment): The brain
is dependent upon oxygen to maintain function and has
little reserve available if oxygen is deprived. Untreated
hypoxia leads to brain injury or death if the brain has
been denied adequate oxygenation for 3 to 5 min. Changes
in level of consciousness, using the Glasgow Coma
Scale (GCS), provide the earliest indication of neurologic
deterioration.

Cranial nerve function: Eye blink response, gag reflex,
tongue and shoulder movement

Assess pupils for size, equality, and reaction to light:
Pupils that are equal, round, and react to light and
accommodation (PERRLA) are a normal finding.

Bilateral sensory and motor responses

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 14 HeAd iNJUry 83

Increased intracranial pressure (ICP)
Monitored by placing a screw, catheter, or sensor through
a burr hole into the ventricle, or the subarachnoid,
epidural, or subdural space. Expected reference range is
10 to 15 mm Hg.

● ICP can be increased by
◯ Hypercarbia, which leads to cerebral vasodilation
◯ Endotracheal or oral tracheal suctioning
◯ Coughing
◯ Extreme neck or hip flexion/extension
◯ Maintaining the head of the bed at an angle
less than 30°

◯ Increasing intra-abdominal pressure (restrictive
clothing, Valsalva maneuver)

● Implement actions that decrease ICP.
◯ Elevate head at least 30° to reduce ICP and to promote
venous drainage.

◯ Avoid extreme flexion, extension, or rotation of the
head, and maintain the body in a midline neutral
position.

◯ Maintain a patent airway. Provide mechanical
ventilation as indicated.

◯ Administer oxygen as indicated to maintain PaO2
greater than 60 mm Hg.

◯ The client should receive stool softeners and avoid the
Valsalva maneuver with increased ICP.

◯ Provide a calm, restful environment. (Limit visitors.
Minimize noise.)

◯ Brief periods of hyperventilation for the intubated
client can be used after the first 24 hr following
injury to help lower ICP. During the first 24 hr,
hyperventilation can cause cerebral vasoconstriction,
which can cause ischemia.

MediCATiONs

Mannitol

Mannitol is an osmotic diuretic used to treat cerebral
edema. When used for increased ICP, the medication draws
fluid from the brain into the blood.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer IV to treat acute cerebral edema.
● Insert indwelling urinary catheter to monitor fluid and

renal status.
● Monitor electrolytes and osmolality closely.

Barbiturates

Client can be placed in a coma (barbiturate coma)
to decrease cellular metabolic demand until ICP can
be decreased.

● Commonly used medications include pentobarbital
and thiopental.

● When barbiturate coma is used, the ability to assess
neurologic function is made more difficult.

● Medication dosage is adjusted to keep the client
completely unresponsive.

● Mechanical ventilation, cardiac and hemodynamic
monitoring, and ICP monitoring are required.

Phenytoin
● Phenytoin is used prophylactically to prevent or treat

seizures. It was the first medication used to suppress
seizure that did not depress the entire CNS.

● Dosing for this medication is client-specific and based
on therapeutic blood levels.

NURSING ACTIONS: Check for medication interactions.

Opioids

Morphine sulfate or fentanyl are analgesics used to control
pain and restlessness.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Avoid opioid use with clients who are not mechanically

ventilated due to CNS depressant effects.
◯ Prevents accurate assessment of neurologic system
◯ Can cause respiratory depression

● Administer naloxone, the reversal agent, if client
becomes overmedicated or does not tolerate the opioids.

84 CHAPTER 14 HeAd iNJUry CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres

Craniotomy

A craniotomy is the removal of nonviable brain tissue
that allows for expansion and/or removal of epidural or
subdural hematomas. It is also used to decrease ICP and
remove brain tumors. It involves drilling a burr hole or
creating a bone flap to permit access to the affected area.

● Treatment of intracranial hemorrhages requires surgical
evacuation. There are three surgical approaches:
supratentorial (above the tentorial), infratentorial
(below the tentorial, brain stem), and transsphenoidal
(through the mouth and nasal sinuses).

● Burr holes are circular openings through the skull. The
burr hole is used to assess cerebral swelling, injury, size,
and position of the ventricles.

● This is a life-saving procedure, and is associated
with many potential complications (severe neurologic
impairment, infection, persistent seizures, neurologic
deficiencies, and death).

NURSING ACTIONS
● Medications (mannitol and dexamethasone) can be

administered every 6 hr for 24 to 72 hr postoperatively.
● Phenytoin or diazepam can be used to prevent

seizure activity.
● Monitor ICP. Follow written protocols to assess for

changes in ICP.
● For supratentorial surgery, maintain HOB at least 30°

with body positioning to prevent increased ICP.
● For infratentorial craniotomy, keep client flat and on

either side for 24 to 48 hr to prevent pressure on neck
incision site.

● Calm and reassure clients, clarifying misconceptions
(brain surgery can be an extremely fearful procedure).

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Care should include professionals from other disciplines

as indicated. This can include physical, occupational,
recreational, and/or speech therapists due to neurologic
deficits that can occur secondary to the area of the
brain damaged.

● Contact social services or case manager to provide links
to social service agencies and schools.

● Rehabilitation facilities are frequently used to compress
the time required to recover from a head injury and
support re-emergence into society.

COMPLICATIONS

Brain herniation
● A brain herniation is the downward shift of brain tissue

due to cerebral edema.
● The brain consists of brain tissue, cerebrospinal fluid,

and blood. Due to the limited space within the skull, an
alteration of any one of the components of the brain
results in a compromise in the other components. When
trauma creates a shift in these components, and the
other components are unable to accommodate, the brain
shifts from the cranial vault, or herniates. This can
result in brain tissue moving downward, through the
foramen magnum.

● Findings include fixed dilated pupils, deteriorating
level of consciousness, Cheyne-Stokes respirations,
hemodynamic instability, and abnormal posturing.

● Recovery after this occurrence is rare, and urgent
medical treatment (mannitol) and/or surgical
(debulking) treatment is indicated.

● With treatment, severe neurologic impairment
usually persists.

NURSING ACTIONS
● This situation should be prevented before treatment

is needed.
● Close monitoring of vital signs and neurologic status

allows early reporting of changes in the GCS score, an
increase in the blood pressure, and an alteration in
respiratory pattern and effort.

● Frequently update family members on the health status
of the client. Frequent updates and repeating medical
information is often necessary to ensure comprehension
among family members.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● The decision to surgically treat brain herniation is made

in the presence of a critical situation.
● Social service workers and/or pastoral personnel can be

helpful to support the family, while reinforcing the
medical situation.

Hematoma and intracranial hemorrhage
● Monitor for severe headache, rapid decline in level

of consciousness, worsening neurologic function and
herniation, and changes in ICP.

● Surgery is required to remove subdural and
epidural hematoma.

● Intracranial hemorrhage is treated with
osmotic diuretics.

Online Image: Brain Herniation

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 14 HeAd iNJUry 85

Pulmonary edema
● Findings mimic acute pulmonary edema without

cardiac involvement.
● This is a life-threatening emergency. Immediate,

aggressive treatment is used. Survival is rare.

Diabetes insipidus or syndrome of
inappropriate antidiuretic hormone

Diabetes insipidus or syndrome of inappropriate
antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) is a possible complication.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor blood electrolytes and osmolality daily.
● Document strict intake and output.
● Weigh client daily.
● Treat electrolyte and fluid imbalance, as prescribed.
● Monitor for dehydration or fluid overload

during treatment.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is reviewing the plan of care for a client
who has a head injury. What should be included
in the plan of care? Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: system disorder to complete this item.

DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES
● identify the priority nursing assessment
and describe why this is important.

● identify the nursing assessment that will provide the
earliest indication of neurologic deterioration.

NURSING CARE: describe three additional nursing actions.

CLIENT EDUCATION: describe two activities the nurse
should instruct the client to avoid that will increase iCP.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who was recently admitted
to the emergency department following a head‑on
motor vehicle crash. The client is unresponsive,
has spontaneous respirations of 22/min, and has a
laceration on the forehead that is bleeding. Which of
the following is the priority nursing action at this time?

A. Keep neck stabilized.

B. insert nasogastric tube.

C. Monitor pulse and blood pressure frequently.

d. establish iV access and start fluid replacement.

2. A nurse is caring for a client who has just been admitted
following surgical evacuation of a subdural hematoma.
Which of the following is the priority assessment?

A. Glasgow Coma scale

B. Cranial nerve function

C. Oxygen saturation

d. Pupillary response

3. A nursing is caring for a client who has a
closed‑head injury with iCP readings ranging from
16 to 22 mm Hg. Which of the following actions
should the nurse take to decrease the potential for
raising the client’s iCP? (select all that apply.)

A. suction the endotracheal tube frequently.

B. decrease the noise level in the client’s room.

C. elevate the client’s head on two pillows.

d. Administer a stool softener.

e. Keep the client well hydrated.

4. A nurse in the critical care unit is completing
an admission assessment of a client who has
a gunshot wound to the head. Which of the
following assessment findings are indicative
of increased iCP? (select all that apply.)

A. Headache

B. dilated pupils

C. Tachycardia

d. decorticate posturing

e. Hypotension

5. A nurse is caring for a client who has increased iCP
and a new prescription for mannitol. For which of the
following adverse effects should the nurse monitor?

A. Hyperglycemia

B. Hyponatremia

C. Hypervolemia

d. Oliguria

86 CHAPTER 14 HeAd iNJUry CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: The greatest risk to the client is permanent
damage to the spinal cord if a cervical injury does exist. The
priority nursing intervention is to keep the neck immobile
until damage to the cervical spine can be ruled out.

B. insertion of a nasogastric tube is not the
priority nursing action at this time.

C. Frequent monitoring of pulse and blood pressure is
important but not the priority nursing action at this time.

d. establishing iV access for fluid replacement is important
but not the priority nursing action at this time.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

2. A. The Glasgow Coma scale is important. However,
another assessment is the priority.

B. Assessment of cranial nerve function is important.
However, another assessment is the priority.

C. CORRECT: Using the airway, breathing, and circulation
(ABC) priority‑setting framework, assessment of oxygen
saturation is the priority action. Brain tissue can only
survive for 3 min before permanent damage occurs.

d. Assessment of pupillary response is important.
However, another assessment is the priority.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Unexpected Response to Therapies

3. A. suctioning increases iCP and should be
performed only when indicated.

B. CORRECT: decreasing the noise level and
restricting the number of people in the client’s
room can help prevent increases in iCP.

C. Hyperflexion of the client’s neck with pillows carries the
risk of increasing iCP and should be avoided. The head
of the bed should be raised to at least 30°, but the head
should be maintained in an upright, neutral position.

d. CORRECT: Administration of a stool softener will
decrease the need to bear down (Valsalva maneuver)
during bowel movements, which can increase iCP.

e. Overhydration carries the risk of increasing iCP and
should be avoided. Monitor fluid and electrolyte levels
closely for the client who has increased iCP.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

4. A. CORRECT: Headache is a finding associated
with increased iCP.

B. CORRECT: dilated pupils is a finding
associated with increased iCP.

C. Bradycardia, not tachycardia, is a finding
associated with increased iCP.

d. CORRECT: decorticate or decerebrate posturing
is a finding associated with increased iCP.

e. Hypertension, not hypotension, is a finding
associated with increased iCP.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

5. A. Hyperglycemia is not an adverse effect of mannitol.
B. CORRECT: Mannitol is a powerful osmotic

diuretic. Adverse effects include electrolyte
imbalances, such as hyponatremia.

C. Hypovolemia is an adverse effect of mannitol
and should be monitored.

d. Polyuria is an adverse of mannitol and should be monitored.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES
● The priority nursing assessment is respiratory status. The
brain is dependent on oxygen to maintain function and has
minimal reserve if oxygen is not available. Brain function
begins to diminish after 3 min of oxygen deprivation.

● The assessment indication of early neurologic
deterioration is changes in level of consciousness.

NURSING CARE
● elevate the head to at least 30°.
● Maintain patent airway.
● Administer oxygen to keep oxygen saturation greater than 92%.
● Maintain cervical spine stability until cleared by x‑ray.
● report presence of cerebrospinal fluid from
nose or ears to the provider.

● Provide a calm, restful environment. (Limit visitors. Minimize noise.)
● implement measures to prevent complications of immobility. (Turn
every 2 hr. Use footboard and splints.) Provide a specialty bed.

● Monitor fluid and electrolyte values and osmolarity.
● Provide adequate fluids but do not overhydrate. Monitor iV fluids.
● Maintain safety and seizure precautions (side rails up,
padded side rails, call light within client’s reach).

● explain all nursing actions to the client and family.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Coughing and blowing the nose forcefully.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 15 sTrOKe 87

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: NEUROLOGIC EMERGENCIES

CHAPTER 15 Stroke
strokes, also known as cerebrovascular
accidents or brain attacks, involve a disruption
in the cerebral blood flow secondary
to ischemia, hemorrhage, brain attack,
or embolism.

Classifications of strokes are hemorrhagic and
ischemic. (ischemic strokes are thrombotic
or embolic.)

Hemorrhagic occur secondary to a ruptured
artery or aneurysm. The prognosis for a
client who has experienced a hemorrhagic
stroke is poor due to the amount of ischemia
and increased iCP caused by the expanding
collection of blood. if it is caught early and
evacuation of the clot can be done with
cessation of the active bleed, the prognosis of a
hemorrhagic stroke improves significantly. (15.1)

Thrombotic strokes occur secondary to
the development of a blood clot on an
atherosclerotic plaque in a cerebral artery
that gradually shuts off the artery and causes
ischemia distal to the occlusion. Manifestations
of a thrombotic stroke evolve over a period of
several hours to days. (15.2)

Embolic strokes are caused by an embolus
traveling from another part of the body to a
cerebral artery. Blood to the brain distal to
the occlusion is immediately shut off causing
neurologic deficits or a loss of consciousness to
instantly occur. (15.3)

Ischemic strokes (thrombotic or embolic) can be
reversed with fibrinolytic therapy using
alteplase, also known as tissue plasminogen
activator (tPA), if given within 3 to 4.5 hr of the
initial manifestations (unless contraindicated by
factors [presence of active bleeding]).

CHAPTER 15

Online Images: Hemorrhagic Stroke, Thrombotic
Stroke, Embolic Stroke

15.1 Hemorrhagic stroke

15.2 Thrombotic stroke

88 CHAPTER 15 sTrOKe CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, smoking, and other
related disorders can increase a client’s risk for
a stroke.

● Early treatment of hypertension, maintenance of blood
glucose within expected range, and refraining from
smoking will decrease these risk factors.

● Maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular
exercise can also decrease the risk of a stroke.

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● Cerebral aneurysm
● Arteriovenous (AV) malformation
● Diabetes mellitus
● Obesity
● Hypertension
● Atherosclerosis
● Hyperlipidemia
● Hypercoagulability
● Atrial fibrillation
● Use of oral contraceptives
● Smoking
● Cocaine use

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
Some clients report transient manifestations (visual
disturbances, dizziness, slurred speech, a weak extremity).

● These manifestations can indicate a transient
ischemic attack (TIA), which can be a warning of an
impending stroke.

● Antithrombotic medication and/or surgical removal of
atherosclerotic plaques in the carotid artery can prevent
the subsequent occurrence of a stroke.

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
Manifestations vary based on the area of the brain that is
deprived of oxygenated blood.

● The left cerebral hemisphere is responsible for
language, mathematics skills, and analytic thinking.

◯ Expressive and receptive aphasia (inability to speak
and understand language)

◯ Agnosia (unable to recognize familiar objects)
◯ Alexia (reading difficulty)
◯ Agraphia (writing difficulty)
◯ Right extremity hemiplegia (paralysis) or

hemiparesis (weakness)
◯ Slow, cautious behavior
◯ Depression, anger, and quick to become frustrated
◯ Visual changes (hemianopsia [loss of visual field in
one or both eyes]).

Online Image: Hemianopsia

15.3 Embolic stroke

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 15 sTrOKe 89

● The right cerebral hemisphere is responsible for visual
and spatial awareness and proprioception.

◯ Altered perception of deficits (overestimation
of abilities)

◯ Unilateral neglect syndrome (ignore left side of the
body: cannot see, feel, or move affected side, so
client unaware of its existence). Can occur with
left-hemispheric strokes, but is more common with
right-hemispheric strokes.

◯ Loss of depth perception
◯ Poor impulse control and judgment
◯ Left hemiplegia or hemiparesis
◯ Visual changes (hemianopsia)

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
A non-contrast computed tomography (CT) scan is the
initial diagnostic test and should be performed within
25 min from the time of client arrival to the emergency
department. This will assist with the determination of
type of stroke (ischemic versus hemorrhagic) and whether
the client is a candidate for thrombolytic therapy.

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to
identify edema, ischemia, and necrosis.

A magnetic resonance angiography or a cerebral
angiography are used to identify the presence of a cerebral
hemorrhage, abnormal vessel structures (AV malformation,
aneurysms), vessel ruptures, and regional perfusion of
blood flow in the carotid arteries and brain.

A lumbar puncture is used to assess for the presence
of blood in the cerebrospinal fluid. A positive finding is
consistent with a cerebral hemorrhage or ruptured aneurysm.

The Glasgow Coma Scale is used when the client has a
decreased level of consciousness or orientation. The risk
for increased intracranial pressure (ICP) exists related
to the swelling of the brain that can occur secondary to
ischemic insult.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Monitor vital signs every l to 2 hr. Notify the provider

immediately if blood pressure exceeds a systolic greater
than 180 mm Hg or a diastolic greater than 110 mm Hg.
This can indicate the client is experiencing an
ischemic stroke.

● Monitor the client’s temperature. A fever can cause an
increase in intracranial pressure.

● Provide oxygen therapy to maintain oxygen saturation
level greater than 92%, or if the client’s level of
consciousness is decreased.

● Place the client on a cardiac monitor to detect arrhythmias.
● Conduct a cardiac assessment, and auscultate apical

heart rate to detect murmurs or irregularity.
● Monitor for changes in level of consciousness (indicates

increased ICP).
● Monitor vital signs, electrocardiogram.

● Monitor for hyperglycemia, which is associated with
poor neurologic outcome.

● Elevate the head of the bed approximately 30° to reduce
ICP and to promote venous drainage. Avoid extreme
flexion or extension of the neck, and maintain the
client’s head in the midline neutral position.

● Institute seizure precautions.
● Assist with the client’s communication skills if speech

is impaired. (15.4)
◯ Assess the ability to understand speech by asking the
client to follow simple commands.

◯ Observe for consistently affirmative answers when the
client actually does not comprehend what is being said.

◯ Assess accuracy of yes/no responses in relation to
closed-ended questions.

◯ Supply the client with a picture board of commonly
requested items/needs.

◯ For expressive and receptive aphasia, speak slowly
and clearly, use one-step commands.

● Assist with safe feeding.
◯ Assess swallowing and gag reflexes before feeding.
The speech-language pathologist (SLP) may request
a swallowing study that can involve swallowing a
barium substrate and radiography of the peristaltic
activity of the esophagus.

◯ Four liquid consistencies have been identified by a
collaborative group of specialists for clients who
have dysphagia: thin (water, juice), nectar-like
(cream soups, nectars), honey-like (honey, yogurt),
and spoon-thick (pudding, cooked cereals). Food
levels for dysphagia include pureed, mechanically
altered, advanced/mechanically soft, and regular.
Use the appropriate consistency and food type as
recommended by the SLP to minimize choking.

◯ Have the client eat in an upright position and swallow
with the head and neck flexed slightly forward.

◯ Place food in the back of the mouth on the
unaffected side.

◯ Have suction on standby.
◯ Maintain a distraction-free environment during meals.
◯ Collaborate with dietitian to ensure appropriate
caloric intake, because weight loss is common
following stroke.

● Prevent complications of immobility (atelectasis,
pneumonia, pressure injury, and deep-vein thrombosis
[DVT]). Clients who have experienced strokes are
ambulated as soon as possible to prevent complications.
However, during periods of inactivity, preventive
measures related to complications of immobility should
be implemented.

● If the client has one-sided neglect, teach them to
protect and care for the affected extremity to avoid
injuring it in the wheel of the wheelchair or hitting/
smashing it against a doorway.

● Encourage range of motion exercises every 2 hr (active
for unaffected extremities, passive for affected).

● Elevate affected extremities to promote venous return
and reduce swelling. An elastic glove can be placed on
the affected hand if swelling is severe.

90 CHAPTER 15 sTrOKe CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

● Maintain a safe environment to reduce the risk of falls.
Assistive devices (transfer belts and sliding boards)
should be used during transfers. Sit-to-stand lifts can
also facilitate transfers and reduce strain on the care
provider’s body.

● If the client has homonymous hemianopsia (loss of the
same visual field in both eyes), instruct them to use a
scanning technique (turning head from the direction
of the unaffected side to the affected side) when eating
and ambulating.

● Provide assistance with ADLs as needed. Instruct
the client to dress the affected side first and sit in a
supportive chair that aids in balance. Have occupational
therapy assess the client for adaptive aids (a plate guard,
utensils with built-up handles, a reaching tool to pick
things up, and shirts and shoes that have hook and loop
fasteners or tape instead of buttons and ties).

● Clients who have experienced strokes have decreased
endurance and impaired balance due to paralysis on one
side of the body. Provide frequent rest periods from sitting
in the wheelchair by returning the client to bed after
therapies and meals. When sitting the client up in bed or in
the wheelchair, leaning to the affected side typically occurs
and should be countered with some manner of support.

● Shoulder subluxation can occur if the affected arm is not
supported. The weight of the arm is such that it can cause
a painful dislocation of the shoulder from its socket.

● Support the client during periods of emotional lability
and depression.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Use the unaffected side to exercise the affected side

of the body.
● For edema of the extremities, massage by stroking from

the fingertips or toes back toward the body to encourage
fluid movement.

● Support the arm while in bed, the wheelchair, or
during ambulation with an arm sling or strategically
placed pillows.

MediCATiONs
Thrombolytic medications reteplase recombinant:
Give within 4.5 hr of initial manifestations for clients
experiencing ischemic stroke due to embolic event as
evidenced by CT scan results.

Anticoagulants (warfarin): Warfarin is indicated for
clients who have atrial fibrillation (or cardioembolic
stroke) with a target international normalized ratio (INR)
or 2 to 3 (secondary prevention). Anticoagulants should
not be used in hemorrhagic stroke.

Novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) (dabigatran, apixaban,
rivaroxaban): Alternative medications to warfarin
therapy for clients experiencing atrial fibrillation
(cardioembolic stroke)

Antiplatelets (aspirin, dipyridamole, clopidogrel)
● Low-dose aspirin is given within 24 to 48 hr following

an ischemic stroke to prevent further clot formation.
● Platelet inhibitors (dipyridamole, clopidogrel) can be

given to clients who have experienced thrombotic or
embolic stroke.

Antiepileptic medications (phenytoin, gabapentin)
● These medications are not commonly given following a

stroke unless the client develops seizures.
● Gabapentin can be given for paresthetic pain in an

affected extremity.

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres
Systemic or catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy
restores cerebral blood flow. It must be administered
within 6 hr of the onset of manifestations. It is
contraindicated for treatment of a hemorrhagic stroke
and for clients who have an increased risk of bleeding
due to anticoagulant therapy or other bleeding anomalies.
Possibility of hemorrhagic stroke is ruled out with an MRI
prior to the initiation of thrombolytic therapy.

● Carotid artery angioplasty with stenting (CAS) involves
inserting a catheter in the femoral artery and placing a
distal/embolic protection device to catch clot debris during
the procedure while a stent is being placed in the carotid
artery to open a blockage. CAS is less invasive, blood
loss is decreased, and length of hospitalization is shorter.
Postoperative care is the same as carotid endarterectomy.

● Carotid endarterectomy is performed to open the artery
by removing atherosclerotic plaque. This procedure is
performed when the carotid artery is blocked or when
the client is experiencing TIAs.

◯ Assess for increased headache, neck swelling, and
hoarseness of the throat.

● Extracranial-intracranial bypass is a craniotomy
performed to improve cerebral perfusion following a
stroke or for clients who have had a TIA that is likely
to progress to a stroke. It increases blood flow around
a blocked artery and can help restore blood flow to
affected areas of the brain.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Speech and language therapists can be consulted for

language therapy and swallowing exercises.
● Physical therapy can be consulted for assistance with

reestablishment of ambulation with or without assistive
devices (single or quad cane, walker) or wheelchair support.
Wheelchair adaptations (an extended brake handle on the
client’s affected side of the wheelchair) can be necessary.

● Occupational therapy can be consulted for assistance
with reestablishment of partial or full function of the
affected hand and arm. If function does not return to
the extremity, measures (massage and elastic gloves)
will be prescribed by occupational therapy to prevent
swelling of the extremity.

● Social services can be consulted to make arrangements
for rehabilitation services and temporary placement on a
skilled rehabilitation unit or extended-care facility during
provision of these services. Prior to discharge, the social
worker can make a home visit with selected therapists and
nurses to evaluate the need for environmental alterations
in the home and adaptive equipment needed for ADLs.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 15 sTrOKe 91

COMPLICATIONS

Dysphagia and aspiration
● Dysphagia can result from neurologic involvement of

the cranial nerves that innervate the face, tongue, soft
palate, and throat. As a result, the client’s risk of
aspiration is great.

● Not all clients who have experienced a stroke have
dysphagia, but all should be evaluated prior to
reestablishing oral nutrition and hydration.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess gag reflex. If the gag reflex is present, give

the client a small sip of water to determine if
choking occurs.

● If the client exhibits difficulty managing food or fluids,
a swallowing evaluation should be done by an SLP.

● Keep the client completely NPO until evaluated
by the SLP.

● When resuming intake, provide the client with the
prescribed liquid-consistency regimen from the
National Dysphagia Diet and observe closely for choking.
Have suction equipment available, but feed with care
because nasotracheal suctioning increases ICP.

● An RN should provide the initial feeding and intervene
if choking occurs. Some clients require an eating
environment without distractions to prevent choking.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Use recommended techniques for eating and adhere to

instructions regarding prescribed consistency of liquids
and solid foods.

● Sit upright and flex the head forward when swallowing
to decrease the risk of choking.

Unilateral neglect

Unilateral neglect is the loss of awareness of the side
affected by the stroke. The client cannot see, feel, or move
the affected side of the body; therefore, they forget that it
exists. This lack of awareness poses a great risk for injury
to the neglected extremities and creates a self-care deficit.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe affected extremities for injury (bruises and

abrasions of the affected hand and arm, hyperflexion
of the foot from it falling off of the wheelchair
during transport).

● Apply an arm sling if the client is unable to remember
to care for the affected extremity.

● Ensure that the foot rest is on the wheelchair and that
an ankle brace is on the affected foot.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Dress the affected side first.
● Care for the affected side.
● Use the unaffected hand to pull the affected extremity

to midline and out of danger from the wheel of the
wheelchair or from hitting or smashing it against
a doorway.

● Look over the affected side periodically.

15.4 Communication board

92 CHAPTER 15 sTrOKe CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is caring for a client who has dysphagia. Use the ATi
Active Learning Template: Nursing skill to complete this item.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: List three nursing actions
the nurse should include while caring for this client.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who has experienced
a right‑hemispheric stroke. The nurse should
expect the client to have difficulty with which
of the following? (select all that apply.)

A. impulse control

B. Moving the left side

C. depth perception

d. speaking

e. situational awareness

2. A nurse is caring for a client who has left
homonymous hemianopsia. Which of the following
is an appropriate nursing intervention?

A. Teach the client to scan to the right to see
objects on the right side of the body.

B. Place the bedside table on the
right side of the bed.

C. Orient the client to the food on the
plate using the clock method.

d. Place the wheelchair on the client’s left side.

3. A nurse is planning care for a client who has
dysphagia and a new dietary prescription.
Which of the following should the nurse include
in the plan of care? (select all that apply.)

A. Have suction equipment available for use.

B. Feed the client thickened liquids.

C. Place food on the unaffected
side of the client’s mouth.

d. Assign an assistive personnel to
feed the client slowly.

e. Teach the client to swallow with the neck flexed.

4. A nurse is caring for a client who has global
aphasia (both receptive and expressive). Which
of the following should the nurse include in the
client’s plan of care? (select all that apply.)

A. speak to the client at a slower rate.

B. Assist the client to use cards with pictures.

C. speak to the client in a loud voice.

d. Complete sentences that the client cannot finish.

e. Give instructions one step at a time.

5. A nurse is assessing a client. Which of the
following findings indicates that the client has
experienced a left‑hemispheric stroke?

A. impulse control difficulty

B. Poor judgment

C. inability to recognize familiar objects

d. Loss of depth perception

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 15 sTrOKe 93

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: A client who has experienced a right‑hemispheric
stroke can exhibit impulse control difficulty, such
as the urgency to use the restroom.

B. CORRECT: A client who has experienced a right‑hemispheric
stroke can exhibit left‑sided hemiplegia.

C. CORRECT: A client who has experienced a right‑hemispheric
stroke can experience a loss in depth perception.

d. A client who has experienced a left‑hemispheric
stroke can experience aphasia.

e. CORRECT: A client who has experienced a right‑hemispheric
stroke can demonstrate a lack of awareness of surroundings.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

2. A. A client who has left homonymous hemianopsia
has lost the left visual field of both eyes. The client
should be taught to turn the head to the left to
visualize the entire field of vision.

B. CORRECT: The client is unable to visualize to the
left midline of their body. Placing the bedside
table on the right side of the client’s bed will
permit visualization of items on the table.

C. Using the clock method of food placement will be
ineffective because only half of the plate can be seen.

d. The wheelchair should be placed to the
client’s right or unaffected side.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

3. A. CORRECT: suction equipment should be available
in case of choking and aspiration.

B. CORRECT: The client should be given liquids that
are thicker than water to prevent aspiration.

C. CORRECT: Placing food on the unaffected side of the
client’s mouth will allow them to have better control
of the food and reduce the risk of aspiration.

d. due to the risk of aspiration, assistive personnel
should not be assigned to feed the client because the
client’s swallowing ability should be assessed, and
suctioning can be needed if choking occurs.

e. CORRECT: The client should be taught to flex
the neck, tucking the chin down and under to
close the epiglottis during swallowing.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Potential for Alterations in Body Systems

4. A. CORRECT: Clients who have global aphasia have
difficulty with speaking and understanding speech.
One strategy that can enhance client understanding
is speaking to the client at a slower rate.

B. CORRECT: One strategy that can enhance understanding
is the use of alternative forms of communication,
such as cards with pictures or a computer.

C. For the client who has aphasia, speaking in a loud voice is
unnecessary and can be interpreted as patronizing.

d. Allow the client adequate time to finish sentences
and not complete the sentences for them.

e. CORRECT: One strategy that can enhance understanding
is giving instructions one step at a time.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

5. A. A client who has experienced a right‑hemispheric stroke
will experience difficulty with impulse control.

B. A client who has experienced a right‑hemispheric
stroke will experience poor judgment.

C. CORRECT: A client who experienced a left‑hemispheric
stroke will demonstrate the inability to recognize
familiar objects, known as agnosia.

d. A client who experienced a right‑hemispheric stroke
will experience a loss of depth perception.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Nursing Skill

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● Assess gag reflex. if the gag reflex is present, give the client
a small sip of water to determine if choking occurs.

● if the client exhibits difficulty managing food or fluids, a
speech therapist should do a swallowing evaluation.

● Provide the client with the prescribed diet and observe closely
for choking. Have suction equipment available. An rN should
provide the initial feeding and intervene if choking occurs.

● Thicker liquids are usually tolerated better than thin liquids.
Collaborate with the speech‑language pathologist and
dietitian to find the proper consistency and type of diet.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Illness
Management

94 CHAPTER 15 sTrOKe CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 16 sPiNAL COrd iNJUry 95

UNIT 2 NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS
SECTION: NEUROLOGIC EMERGENCIES

CHAPTER 16 Spinal Cord Injury
spinal cord injuries (sCis) involve the loss of
motor function, sensory function, reflexes, and
control of elimination. injuries in the cervical
region result in quadriplegia: paralysis/paresis
of all four extremities and trunk. injuries below
T1 result in paraplegia: paralysis/paresis of the
lower extremities. Truncal instability also results
if the lesion is in the upper thoracic region.

The level of cord involved dictates the
consequences of spinal cord injury. For example,
an injury at C4 or above poses a great risk for
impaired spontaneous ventilation due to the
involvement of the phrenic nerve. (16.1)

Not all fractures of the vertebrae cause sCis.
direct injury to the spinal cord secondary to
the trauma or bone fragments in the spinal
canal must occur for the spinal cord itself to
become damaged.

sCis range from contusions or incomplete
lesions of the spinal cord to complete lesions
that extend across the entire diameter of the
cord, or an actual transection of the spinal
cord. Complete lesions result in the loss of all
voluntary movement and sensation below the
level of the injury. incomplete lesions result
in varying losses of voluntary movement and
sensation below the level of the injury.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Causes of most SCIs are trauma (such as motor vehicle
accidents), diving accidents, and gunshot wounds.

● Hyperflexion injuries are caused by acceleration injuries
that cause sharp forward flexion of the spine (head-on
collision, fall, or diving). Hyperextension injuries are
caused by a backward snap of the spine (rear-end
collision or a downward fall onto the chin).

ASSESSMENT

risK FACTOrs
● High-risk activities (extreme sports or high-

speed driving)
● Participation in impact sports (football or diving)
● Acts of violence (gunshot and knife wounds)
● Substance use
● Disease (metastatic cancer or arthritis of the spine)
● Falls, especially in older adults

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Report of lack of sensation of dermatomes below the

level of the lesion
● Report of neck or back pain

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Inability to feel light touch when touched by a cotton

ball, inability to discriminate between sharp and dull
when touched with a safety pin or other sharp objects,
and inability to discriminate between hot and cold when
touched with containers of hot and cold water

● Absent deep tendon reflexes
● Flaccidity of muscles
● Hypotension that is more severe when the client is

sitting in an upright position
● Shallow respirations
● Spinal shock, a complication of spinal cord injury,

causes a total but temporary loss of all reflexive and
autonomic function below the level of injury, lasting for
a period of days to weeks.

CHAPTER 16

Online Image: Spinal Cord and Cauda Equina

16.1 Spinal cord and cauda equina

96 CHAPTER 16 sPiNAL COrd iNJUry CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

LABOrATOry TesTs
Urinalysis, hemoglobin, ABGs, CBCs (for evaluation of
platelets and WBCs): Used to monitor for undiagnosed
internal bleeding (the client might not feel pain from
internal injuries) and impaired respiratory exchange (due
to phrenic nerve involvement and/or inability to
voluntarily increase depth and rate of respirations)

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed
tomography (CT) imaging/computed axial tomography
(CAT) scan can be used to assess the extent of the damage
and the location of blood and bone fragments.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre

Respiratory status
● Monitoring respiratory status is the first priority.

Involuntary respirations can be affected due to a lesion
at or above the phrenic nerve or swelling from a lesion
immediately below C4. Lesions in the cervical or upper
thoracic area will also impair voluntary movement of
muscles used in respiration (increase in depth or rate).

● Provide oxygen and suction as needed.
● Assist with intubation and mechanical ventilation

if necessary.
● Assist the client to cough by applying abdominal

pressure when attempting to cough.
● Teach the client about incentive spirometer use, and

encourage the client to perform coughing and deep
breathing regularly.

Tissue perfusion

Neurogenic shock , which is a complication of spinal
trauma, causes a sudden loss of communication within
the sympathetic nervous system that maintains the
normal muscle tone in blood vessel walls. Neurogenic
shock can occur within 24 hr of a SCI, resulting in
peripheral vasodilation that leads to venous pooling in
the extremities, a drop in cardiac output and heart rate,
and a life-threatening decrease in blood pressure. This
complication can last for several days to weeks.

● Ensure proper positioning of the client by stabilizing
the spinal cord following an injury.

● Monitor for hypotension, bradycardia, dependent edema,
and loss of temperature regulation (abrupt onset of
fever), which are common manifestations.

● Clients who experience neurogenic shock are at greater
risk for development of venous thromboembolism (VTE).

◯ Monitor for manifestations of VTE (swelling of
extremity, absent/decreased pulses, and areas of
warmth and/or tenderness). The client might be
on anticoagulants to prevent development of lower
extremity thrombi.

Intake and output

The client might be NPO for several days. Regulation of
fluid balance and nutritional support is necessary. Provide
adequate fluid intake for the client to prevent urinary
calculi and bladder infections, and maintain soft stools.

Neurologic status

After determining the baseline, monitor for an increasing
loss of neurologic function.

Muscle strength and tone

After determining the baseline, monitor for an increasing
loss of muscle strength in the affected extremities.

● Clients who have upper motor neuron injuries (above
L1 and L2) will convert to a spastic muscle tone after
neurogenic shock.

● Clients who have lower motor neuron injuries (below L1
and L2) will convert to a flaccid type of paralysis.

● Because most lower motor neuron lesions involve
the cauda equina, the motor and sensory deficits
can be patchy, with some areas of innervation and
others without.

● Encourage active range-of-motion (ROM) exercises
when possible, and assist with passive ROM if the client
lacks all motor function.

● Muscle spasticity can be so severe that clients
develop pressure injuries, which can make sitting in a
wheelchair very difficult.

● Muscle spasms can be painful for some clients while
others do not feel pain.

Mobility

Clients who have complete injuries will not regain
mobility. Clients who have incomplete injuries can regain
some function that will allow mobility with various types
of braces. However, functional mobility can still be best
attained through the use of a wheelchair.

● When in an upright position, clients with high levels of
spinal cord injury may experience postural hypotension.
Transferring the client to a wheelchair should occur
in stages.

◯ Raise the head of the bed and be ready to lower the
angle if the client reports dizziness.

◯ Transfer the client into a reclining wheelchair with
the back of the wheelchair reclined.

◯ Be ready to lock and lean the wheelchair back onto
the knee to a fully-reclined position if the client
reports dizziness after the transfer.

◯ Do not attempt to return the client to the bed.

Sensation

The amount of sensation lost depends on whether the
lesion is complete or incomplete. Take care to prevent skin
breakdown in both the bed and wheelchair. Various types
of foam and air mattresses are available for beds and
wheelchairs.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 16 sPiNAL COrd iNJUry 97

Bowel and bladder function
● Spastic neurogenic bladder: Clients who have upper

motor neuron injuries develop spastic bladder after
the neurogenic shock resolves. Bladder management
options for male clients include condom catheters and
stimulation of the micturition reflex by tugging on the
pubic hair. Female clients need to use an indwelling
urinary catheter due to the unpredictably of the
release of urine.

● Flaccid neurogenic bladder: Clients who have lower
motor neuron injuries develop a flaccid bladder. Bladder
management options for males and females include
intermittent catheterization and Credé’s method
(downward pressure placed on the bladder to manually
express the urine).

● Neurogenic bowel functioning does not differ much
between upper and lower motor neuron injuries. Daily
use of stool softeners or bulk-forming laxatives
is recommended to keep the stool soft. A bowel
movement can be stimulated daily or every other day
by administration of a bisacodyl suppository or digital
stimulation (stimulation of the rectal sphincter with a
gloved and lubricated finger) only if requested by the
provider. Digital stimulation should be used cautiously
to avoid provoking a vagal response, which can result in
bradycardia and syncope.

● Development of a schedule as part of bladder and bowel
training is critical in preventing complications related
to immobility and promoting adequate nutrition and
fluid balance.

Gastrointestinal function

An ileus can develop immediately after injury. Monitor
bowel sounds.

Skin integrity

Changing the client’s position every 2 hr (every 1 hr
when in a wheelchair) is critical. Clients who have a SCI
can neither move nor feel pain from prolonged pressure.
Pressure-relief devices in both the bed and the wheelchair
must be consistently used.

Sexual function

Teach the client about alterations in sexual function and
possible adaptive strategies. Clients who have quadriplegia
and other clients who have upper motor neuron lesions are
usually capable of reflexogenic erections (erections
secondary to manual manipulation). Ejaculation
coordinated with emission might not occur. Clients who
have lower motor neuron injuries are less able to have
reflexogenic erections, but clients who have incomplete
injuries might be able to have a combination of
reflexogenic and psychogenic erections (erections
stimulated by sexual thoughts and images). Medications
can help, in some instances.

MediCATiONs

Vasopressors

Norepinephrine and dopamine are administered to treat
hypotension, particularly during neurogenic shock.

Antimuscarinic

Atropine may be used to treat bradycardia.

Plasma expanders

Dextran, a volume expander, is used to treat hypotension
secondary to spinal shock.

NURSING ACTIONS: Observe for manifestations of
fluid overload.

Muscle relaxants

Baclofen and dantrolene: Administered to clients who
have severe muscle spasticity.

● Monitor for drowsiness and muscle weakness.
● Baclofen may be administered intrathecally to reduce

the sedative effects.

Cholinergics

Bethanechol: Decreases spasticity of the bladder, allowing
for easier bladder training and fewer accidents.

NURSING ACTIONS: Observe for urinary retention.
Measure residual periodically.

Analgesics

Opioids, non-opioids, and NSAIDs are
administered for pain.

Anticoagulants

Heparin or low-molecular-weight heparins are used for
DVT prophylaxis.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor INR, PT, and aPTT for therapeutic levels

of anticoagulation.
● Observe for manifestations of gastrointestinal bleeding

or bleeding secondary to unrecognized injury.

Stool softeners and bulk‑forming laxatives

Docusate sodium or polycarbophil prevent constipation
and keep the stool soft.

Vasodilators
● Hydralazine and nitroglycerin: Use PRN to treat

episodes of hypertension during automatic dysreflexia.
● NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor blood pressure frequently.

98 CHAPTER 16 sPiNAL COrd iNJUry CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

THerAPeUTiC PrOCedUres

Application of immobilization devices and traction

Clients who have cervical fractures may be placed in a
halo fixation (16.2) device or cervical tongs. The purpose is
to provide traction and/or immobilize the spinal column.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Maintain body alignment and ensure cervical tong

weights hang freely.
● Monitor skin integrity by providing pin care and assessing

the skin under the halo fixation vest as appropriate.
● Do not use the halo device to turn or move a client.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● If going home with a halo fixation device on, follow

instructions for pin and vest care.
● Report indications of infection and skin breakdown.

Spinal surgery
● Spinal fusion is commonly performed when a spinal

fracture creates an area of instability of the spine.
● Spinal fusions in the cervical area usually are performed

through the front of the neck.
● Spinal fusions in the thoracic or lumbar areas are

performed using a posterior approach and can be
combined with a decompressive laminectomy.

● A decompressive laminectomy is performed by removing
a section of lamina; accessing the spinal canal; and
removing bone fragments, foreign bodies, or
hematomas that can place pressure on the spinal cord.

● Donor bone often is obtained from the iliac crest and
used to fuse together the vertebrae that are unstable.

● Application of paravertebral rods can be used to
mechanically immobilize several vertebral levels.

NURSING ACTIONS
● In clients who have undergone an anterior cervical fusion,

monitor for possible airway compromise from swelling or
hemorrhage. Observe for deviation of the trachea.

● Assess neurologic status and vital signs every hour for
the first 4 hr following spinal fusion.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● An area of decreased range of motion will always exist

in the area of fusion or paravertebral rods.
● Rods are usually not removed unless they cause pain.

Removal can be done after the spine has restabilized.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Occupational and physical therapy teach the client

how to perform ADLs and reestablish mobility using a
wheelchair, braces, or crutches. The client also will be
fitted for splints to prevent contractures and provided
wrist support for eating and manipulating the joystick
on an electric wheelchair.

● Social services needs to determine the client’s financial
resources, home care needs, and home modifications.

● Referral of the client to a SCI support group can aid in
emotionally adapting to changes in body image and role.

CLieNT edUCATiON
● Clients who have experienced SCI with subsequent loss

of function will need varying levels of support upon
discharge, and multiple referrals can be required.

● Clients who have quadriplegia require a lengthy and
extensive rehabilitative experience, which can occur on
an outpatient or in-home basis. Less extensive therapy
is required for paraplegia, but many accommodations
need to be made.

● A family member or support person should understand
how to assist with care (ADLs, transfers, medications).

● Many adaptations might also need to be made to the
home to make it wheelchair accessible.

COMPLICATIONS

Orthostatic hypotension

Occurs when clients change position due to the
interruption in functioning of the automatic nervous
system and pooling of blood in lower extremities when in
an upright position.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Change the client’s positioning slowly and place the

client in a wheelchair that reclines.
● Use thigh-high elastic hose or elastic wraps to

increase venous return. Elastic wraps might need to
extend all the way up the client’s legs and include the
client’s abdomen.

Spinal shock
● Spinal shock is the spinal cord’s response to the

inflammation caused by the injury.
● Manifestations include flaccid paralysis, loss of reflex

activity below the level of injury, and paralytic ileus due
to the loss of autonomic function. The client can have
hypotension and bradycardia.

● Keeping mean arterial pressure at least 85 mm Hg can
prevent further damage to the spinal cord.

Neurogenic shock
● Neurogenic shock is a common response of the spinal

cord following an injury.
● Manifestations of bradycardia, hypotension, dependent

edema, and loss of temperature regulation are caused by
a sudden loss of communication within the sympathetic
nervous system that maintains the normal muscle tone
in blood vessel walls.

NURSING ACTIONS: Treat adverse findings with
appropriate medications (vasopressors or atropine) and
IV fluids.

Online Image: Halo Traction

Online Image: Laminectomy

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 16 sPiNAL COrd iNJUry 99

Autonomic dysreflexia
● Occurs secondary to the stimulation of the sympathetic
nervous system and inadequate compensatory response
by the parasympathetic nervous system. Clients who
have lesions below T6 do not experience dysreflexia
because the parasympathetic nervous system is able to
neutralize the sympathetic response.

● Sympathetic stimulation is usually caused by a
triggering stimulus in the lower part of the body. (See
Nursing Actions).

● Stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system causes
extreme hypertension, sudden severe headache, pallor
below the level of the spinal cord’s lesion dermatome,
blurred vision, diaphoresis, restlessness, nausea, and
piloerection (goose bumps).

● Stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system
causes bradycardia, flushing above the corresponding
dermatome to the spinal cord lesion (flushed face and
neck), and nasal stuffiness.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Sit the client up to decrease blood pressure secondary
to postural hypotension.

● Notify the provider.
● Determine and treat the cause.

◯ Distended bladder is the most common cause (kinked
or blocked indwelling urinary catheter, urinary
retention, urinary calculi). Insert a catheter for
distended bladder using anesthetic ointment on the
catheter tip, or check existing catheter for kinks, and
irrigate if needed.

◯ Remove fecal impaction (use anesthetic ointment
prior to removal).

◯ Adjust the room temperature and block drafts.
◯ Remove tight clothing.
◯ Assess for injury (lower extremity fracture, kidney/
bladder infection).

● Monitor vital signs for severe hypertension
and bradycardia.

● Administer antihypertensives (nitrates or hydralazine).

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Understand and prevent potential causes of dysreflexia.
● If fluid intake is temporarily increased, drink a little
more at various times throughout the day rather than
all at once.

● Keep a list of actions to take if an episode of
dysreflexia occurs.

16.2 Halo traction

16.3 Laminectomy

100 CHAPTER 16 sPiNAL COrd iNJUry CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is planning care for a client who has a
spinal cord injury (sCi) involving a T12 fracture
1 week ago. The client has no muscle control of
the lower limbs, bowel, or bladder. Which of the
following should be the nurse’s highest priority?

A. Prevention of further damage to the spinal cord

B. Prevention of contractures of the lower extremities

C. Prevention of skin breakdown of
areas that lack sensation

d. Prevention of postural hypotension when
placing the client in a wheelchair

2. A nurse is caring for a client who has a spinal
cord injury who reports a severe headache and is
sweating profusely. Vital signs include blood pressure
220/110 mm Hg and apical heart rate 54/min. Which
of the following actions should the nurse take first?

A. examine skin for irritation or pressure.

B. sit the client upright in bed.

C. Check the urinary catheter for blockage.

d. Administer antihypertensive medication.

3. A nurse is caring for a client who has a C4 spinal cord
injury. The nurse should recognize the client is at
greatest risk for which of the following complications?

A. Neurogenic shock

B. Paralytic ileus

C. stress ulcer

d. respiratory compromise

4. A nurse is caring for a client who experienced a
cervical spine injury 24 hr ago. Which of the following
prescriptions should the nurse clarify with the provider?

A. Anticoagulant

B. Plasma expanders

C. H2 antagonists

d. Muscle relaxants

5. A nurse is caring for a client who experienced
a cervical spine injury 3 months ago. The nurse
should plan to implement which of the following
types of bladder management methods?

A. Condom catheter

B. intermittent urinary catheterization

C. Credé’s method

d. indwelling urinary catheter

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is assessing a client who has a spinal cord
injury. Use the ATi Active Learning Template:
system disorder to complete this item.

EXPECTED FINDINGS: List three physical
assessment findings the nurse should look for.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 16 sPiNAL COrd iNJUry 101

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: The greatest risk to the client during the acute
phase of an sCi is further damage to the spinal cord. When
planning care, the priority intervention to take is to prevent
further damage to the spinal cord by minimizing movement
of the client until spinal stabilization is accomplished through
either traction or surgery, and adequate oxygenation of
the client to decrease ischemia of the spinal cord.

B. implement rOM exercise to prevent contractures.
However, another action is the priority.

C. implement a turning schedule to prevent skin
breakdown. However, another action is the priority.

d. slowly move the client to an upright position
to prevent postural hypotension. However,
another action is the priority.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

2. A. examine the client’s skin for areas of irritation, pressure,
or broken skin to alleviate a triggering stimulus.
However, another action is the priority.

B. CORRECT: The greatest risk to the client is experiencing
a cerebrovascular accident (stroke) secondary to elevated
blood pressure caused by autonomic dysreflexia. The first
action to take is to elevate the head of the bed until the
client is in an upright position, which should lower the
blood pressure secondary to postural hypotension.

C. Check the client’s catheter for blockage.
However, another action is the priority.

d. Administer an antihypertensive medication if indicated.
However, another action is the priority.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Changes/Abnormalities in Vital Signs

3. A. Monitor for neurogenic shock, which is a response of the
sympathetic nervous system of a client who has a sCi.
However, another complication is the priority.

B. Monitor for a paralytic ileus, which is a complication
immediately following a sCi. However,
another complication is the priority.

C. Monitor for a stress ulcer, which is a response
to changes caused from the sCi. However,
another complication is the priority.

d. CORRECT: When using the airway, breathing, and circulation
(ABC) approach to client care, the priority complication is
respiratory compromise secondary to involvement of the
phrenic nerve. Maintenance of an airway and provision of
ventilatory support as needed is the priority intervention.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

4. A. Administer an anticoagulant to decrease
the risk of developing a VTe.

B. Administer plasma expanders to treat
hypotension caused by the sCi.

C. Administer H2 antagonists to decrease the complication
of developing a gastric ulcer from stress.

d. CORRECT: Clarify with the provider the need for the client
to receive muscle relaxants. The client will not experience
muscle spasms until after the spinal shock has resolved,
making muscle relaxants unnecessary at this time.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

5. A. CORRECT: implement the noninvasive use of a condom
catheter, because the bladder will empty on its own
due to the client having an upper motor neuron injury,
which is manifested by a spastic bladder.

B. implement the intermittent urinary catheterization
method for a client who has a flaccid bladder.

C. implement the Credé’s method for a client
who has a flaccid bladder.

d. An indwelling urinary catheter is an invasive procedure. do not
implement this bladder management method for the client.

NCLEX® Connection: Basic Care and Comfort, Elimination

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

EXPECTED FINDINGS
● inability to feel light touch when touched by a cotton ball, inability
to discriminate between sharp and dull when touched with a safety
pin or other sharp objects, and an inability to discriminate between
hot and cold when touched with containers of hot and cold water

● Absent deep tendon reflexes
● Flaccidity of muscles
● Hypotension that is more severe when the
client is sitting in an upright position

● shallow respirations
● dependent edema
● Neurogenic shock, which accompanies spinal trauma and
causes a total loss of all reflexive and autonomic function below
the level of the injury for a period of several days to weeks

● Loss of temperature regulation: hyperthermia or hypothermia

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, System Specific
Assessments

102 CHAPTER 16 sPiNAL COrd iNJUry CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING NCLeX® CONNeCTiONs 103

NCLEX® Connections

When reviewing the following chapters, keep in mind the
relevant topics and tasks of the NCLEX outline, in particular:

Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
ADVERSE EFFECTS/CONTRAINDICATIONS/SIDE EFFECTS/
INTERACTIONS: Assess the client for actual or potential
side effects and adverse effects of medications.

EXPECTED ACTIONS/OUTCOMES: Evaluate
client response to medication.

MEDICATION ADMINISTRATION: Educate the client
on medication self-administration procedures.

Reduction of Risk Potential
LABORATORY VALUES: Identify laboratory values for ABGs, BUN,
cholesterol, glucose, hematocrit, hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin,
platelets, potassium, sodium, WBC, creatinine, PT, PTT & APTT, INR.

POTENTIAL FOR COMPLICATIONS OF DIAGNOSTIC TESTS/
TREATMENTS/PROCEDURES: Maintain tube patency.

SYSTEM SPECIFIC ASSESSMENTS: Perform focused assessments.

THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES
Educate client about home management of care.

Monitor effective functioning of therapeutic devices.

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104 NCLeX® CONNeCTiONs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Physiological Adaptation
ALTERATIONS IN BODY SYSTEMS
Monitor and care for clients on a ventilator.

Identify signs, symptoms and incubation periods of infectious diseases.

ILLNESS MANAGEMENT: Manage the care of a
client with impaired ventilation/oxygenation.

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES: Apply knowledge of nursing
procedures and psychomotor skills when caring for a
client experiencing a medical emergency.

PATHOPHYSIOLOGY
Identify pathophysiology related to an acute or chronic condition.

Understand general principles of pathophysiology.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 17 resPirATOry diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres 105

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 17 Respiratory
Diagnostic
Procedures

respiratory diagnostic procedures are used to
evaluate a client’s respiratory status by checking
indicators such as the oxygenation of the blood,
lung functioning, and the integrity of the airway.

respiratory diagnostic procedures nurses
should be knowledgeable about include
pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gases,
bronchoscopy, and thoracentesis.

Pulmonary function tests
Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) determine lung function
and breathing difficulties.

● PFTs measure lung volumes and capacities, diffusion
capacity, gas exchange, flow rates, and airway
resistance, along with distribution of ventilation.

● Helpful in identifying clients who have lung disease.
● Commonly performed for clients who have dyspnea.
● Can be performed before surgical procedures to identify

clients who have respiratory risks.
● If client is a smoker, instruct client not to smoke 6 to

8 hr prior to testing.
● If a client uses inhalers, withhold 4 to 6 hr prior to

testing. (This can vary according to facility policy.)

Arterial blood gases
An arterial blood gas (ABG) sample reports the status of
oxygenation and acid-base balance of the blood.

● An ABG measures the following.
◯ pH: amount of free hydrogen ions in the arterial

blood (H+)
◯ PaO2: partial pressure of oxygen
◯ PaCO2: partial pressure of carbon dioxide
◯ HCO3¯: concentration of bicarbonate in arterial blood
◯ SaO2: percentage of oxygen bound to Hgb as compared
with the total amount that can be possibly carried

● ABGs can be obtained by an arterial puncture or
through an arterial line.

INDICATIONS
POTENTIAL DIAGNOSES

● Blood pH levels can be affected by a number of
conditions (respiratory, renal, malnutrition, electrolyte
imbalance, endocrine, or neurologic).

● These assessments are helpful in monitoring the
effectiveness of various treatments (such as acidosis
interventions), in guiding oxygen therapy, and
in evaluating client responses to weaning from
mechanical ventilation.

CONSIDERATIONS

Arterial puncture

PrePrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Obtain a heparinized syringe for the sample collection.
● Perform an Allen’s test prior to arterial puncture to

verify patent radial and ulnar circulation. Compress
the ulnar and radial arteries simultaneously while
instructing the client to form a fist. Then instruct the
client to relax his hand while assessing the palm and
fingers for blanching. Next, release pressure on the
ulnar artery while observing the hand for flushing
caused by capillary refilling. The client’s hand should
turn pink within 15 seconds, indicating patency of the
ulnar artery and an ability to use the radial artery to
obtain arterial blood gases. (17.1)

● Explain and reinforce the procedure with the client.
Clients often experience pain with repeated ABG level
checks and are often unaware of the purpose of the
puncture.

CHAPTER 17

17.1 Allen’s test

106 CHAPTER 17 resPirATOry diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

iNTrAPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Perform an arterial puncture using surgical
aseptic technique, and collect a specimen into a
heparinized syringe.

● Place the collected and capped specimen into a basin
of ice and water to preserve pH levels and oxygen
pressure. The specimen should be transported to the
laboratory immediately.

● Accessing the radial artery for sampling can be more
difficult with older adult clients due to impaired
peripheral vasculature.

! Note: Arterial puncture is frequently done by
a respiratory therapist in hospital settings.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Immediately after an arterial puncture, hold direct
pressure over the site for at least 5 min. Pressure must
be maintained for at least 20 min if the client is
receiving anticoagulant therapy. Ensure that bleeding
has stopped prior to removing direct pressure.

● Monitor the ABG sampling site for bleeding, loss of
pulse, swelling, and changes in temperature and color.

● Document all interventions and client response.
● Report results to the provider as soon as they

are available.
● Implement respiratory interventions as indicated or

prescribed, based on results (adjusting oxygen delivery
or ventilator settings).

INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS
Blood pH levels less than 7.35 reflect acidosis, and levels
greater than 7.45 reflect alkalosis. (17.2)

COMPLICATIONS
Hematoma, arterial occlusion

A hematoma occurs when blood accumulates under the
skin at the IV site.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for changes in temperature, swelling, color, loss

of pulse, or pain.
● Notify the provider immediately if

manifestations persist.
● Apply pressure to the hematoma site.

Air embolism

Air enters the arterial system during catheter insertion.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Place the client in the flat or Trendelenburg position.
● Ask the client to bear down while holding their breath

(Valsalva maneuver).
● Monitor for sudden onset of shortness of breath,

decrease in SaO2 levels, chest pain, anxiety, and
air hunger.

● Notify the provider immediately if manifestations
occur, administer oxygen therapy, and obtain ABGs.
Continue to assess the client’s respiratory status for
any deterioration.

Bronchoscopy
Bronchoscopy permits visualization of the larynx, trachea,
and bronchi through either a flexible fiber-optic or
rigid bronchoscope.

● Bronchoscopy can be performed as an outpatient
procedure, in a surgical suite under general anesthesia,
or at the bedside under local anesthesia and moderate
(conscious) sedation.

● Bronchoscopy can also be performed on clients who are
receiving mechanical ventilation by inserting the scope
through the client’s endotracheal tube.

INDICATIONS
POTENTIAL DIAGNOSES

● Visualization of abnormalities (tumors, inflammation,
strictures)

● Biopsy of suspicious tissue (lung cancer)
◯ Clients undergoing a bronchoscopy with biopsy have
additional risks for bleeding and/or perforation.

● Aspiration of deep sputum or lung abscesses for culture
and sensitivity or cytology (pneumonia)

! Bronchoscopy is also performed for
therapeutic reasons, such as removal of
foreign bodies and secretions from the
tracheobronchial tree, treating postoperative
atelectasis, and to destroy and excise lesions.

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Assess for allergies to anesthetic agents or routine use
of anticoagulants.

● Ensure that a consent form is signed by the client prior
to the procedure.

● Remove the client’s dentures, if applicable, prior to
the procedure.

● Maintain the client on NPO status prior to the procedure,
usually 4 to 8 hr, to reduce the risk of aspiration when
the cough reflex is blocked by anesthesia.

● Administer preprocedure medications (anxiolytic,
atropine, viscous lidocaine, local anesthetic
throat spray).

17.2 ABG measures and expected
reference ranges

ABG MEASURE EXPECTED REFERENCE RANGE
pH 7.35 to 7.45
PAO2 80 to 100 mm Hg
PACO2 35 to 45 mm Hg
HCO3¯ 21 to 28 meq/L
sAO2 95% to 100%

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 17 resPirATOry diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres 107

iNTrAPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Position the client in a sitting or supine position.
● Assist in collecting and labeling specimens. Ensure

prompt delivery to the laboratory.
● Monitor vital signs, respiratory pattern, and

oxygenation status throughout the procedure.
● Sedation given to older adult clients who have

respiratory insufficiency can precipitate
respiratory arrest.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Continuously monitor respirations, blood pressure,
pulse oximetry, heart rate, and level of consciousness
during the recovery period.

◯ Assess level of consciousness while recognizing that
older adult clients can develop confusion or lethargy
due to the effects of medications given during
the bronchoscopy.

● Assess level of consciousness, presence of gag reflex,
and ability to swallow prior to resuming oral intake.

◯ Allow adequate time for the cough and gag reflex to
return prior to resuming oral intake. The gag reflex
can be slower to return in older adult clients receiving
local anesthesia due to impaired laryngeal reflex.

◯ Once the gag reflex returns, the nurse can offer ice
chips to the client and eventually fluids.

● Monitor for development of significant fever (mild
fever for less than 24 hr is expected), productive cough,
significant hemoptysis indicative of hemorrhage (a
small amount of blood-tinged sputum is expected),
and hypoxemia.

● Be prepared to intervene for unexpected responses,
aspiration, and laryngospasm.

● Provide oral hygiene.
● For older adult clients, encourage coughing and deep

breathing every 2 hr. There is an increased risk of
respiratory infection and pneumonia in older adult
clients due to decreased cough effectiveness and
decreased secretion clearance. Respiratory infections can
be more severe and last longer in older adult clients.

● The client is not discharged from the recovery room
until adequate cough reflex and respiratory effort
are present.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Gargling with salt water or using
throat lozenges can provide comfort for throat soreness.

COMPLICATIONS

Laryngospasm

Laryngospasm is uncontrolled muscle contractions of
the laryngeal cords (vocal cords) that impede the ability
to inhale.

NURSING ACTIONS : Continuously monitor for
manifestations of respiratory distress.

Pneumothorax

Pneumothorax can occur following a rigid bronchoscopy.

NURSING ACTIONS : Assess breath sounds and oxygen
saturation, and obtain a follow-up chest x-ray.

Aspiration

Aspiration can occur if the client chokes on oral or
gastric secretions.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prevent aspiration by withholding oral fluids or food

until the gag reflex returns (usually 2 hr).
● Perform suctioning as needed.

Thoracentesis
Thoracentesis is the surgical perforation of the chest
wall and pleural space with a large-bore needle. It is
performed to obtain specimens for diagnostic evaluation,
instill medication into the pleural space, and remove fluid
(effusion) or air from the pleural space for therapeutic
relief of pleural pressure.

● Thoracentesis is performed under local anesthesia by a
provider at the client’s bedside, in a procedure room, or
in a provider’s office.

● Use of an ultrasound for guidance decreases the risk
of complications.

INDICATIONS

POTeNTiAL diAGNOses
● Transudates (heart failure, cirrhosis, nephritic

syndrome, hypoproteinemia)
● Exudates (inflammatory, infectious,

neoplastic conditions)
● Empyema
● Pneumonia
● Blunt, crushing, or penetrating chest injuries/trauma,

or invasive thoracic procedures, such as lung or
cardiac surgery

CLieNT PreseNTATiON
● Large amounts of fluid in the pleural space compress

lung tissue and can cause pain, shortness of breath,
cough, and other manifestations of pleural pressure.

● Assessment of the effusion area can reveal abnormal
breath sounds, dull percussion sounds, and decreased
chest wall expansion. Pain can occur due to
inflammatory process.

INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS
Aspirated fluid is analyzed for general appearance, cell
counts, protein and glucose content, the presence of
enzymes such as lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and
amylase, abnormal cells, and culture.

108 CHAPTER 17 resPirATOry diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
Percussion, auscultation, radiography, or sonography is
used to locate the effusion and needle insertion site.
It can be necessary for the nurse to assist the older adult
client to maintain an appropriate position for the
thoracentesis. Arthritis, tremors, or weakness can make it
difficult for the client to remain still in the required
position for the procedure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Ensure that the client has signed the informed

consent form.
● Gather all needed supplies.
● Obtain preprocedure x-ray to locate pleural effusion and

to determine needle insertion site.
● Position the client sitting upright with arms and

shoulders raised and supported on pillows and/or on an
overbed table and with feet and legs well-supported.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Remain absolutely still (risk of
accidental needle damage) during the procedure and do
not cough or talk unless instructed by the provider.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Assist the provider with the procedure (strict surgical
aseptic technique).

● Prepare the client for a feeling of pressure with needle
insertion and fluid removal.

● Monitor vital signs, skin color, and oxygen saturation
throughout the procedure.

● Measure and record the amount of fluid removed from
the chest.

● Label specimens at the bedside, and promptly send
them to the laboratory.

! The amount of fluid removed is limited to 1 L at
a time to prevent re‑expansion pulmonary edema.

POsTPrOCedUre
NURSING ACTIONS

● Apply a dressing over the puncture site, and assess the
dressing for bleeding or drainage.

● Monitor vital signs and respiratory status (respiratory
rate and rhythm, breath sounds, oxygenation status)
hourly for the first several hours after the thoracentesis.

● Auscultate lungs for reduced breath sounds on side
of thoracentesis.

● Encourage the client to deep breathe to assist with
lung expansion.

● Obtain a postprocedure chest x-ray (check resolution of
effusions, rule out pneumothorax).

COMPLICATIONS

Mediastinal shift

Shift of thoracic structures to one side of the body.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor vital signs.
● Auscultate lungs for a decrease in or absence of

breath sounds.

Pneumothorax

Pneumothorax is a collapsed lung. It can occur due to
injury to the lung during the procedure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for manifestations of pneumothorax

(diminished breath sounds, distended neck veins,
asymmetry of the chest wall, respiratory distress,
cyanosis).

● Monitor postprocedure chest x-ray results.

CLIENT EDUCATION: A pneumothorax can develop during
the first 24 hr following a thoracentesis. Indications
include deviated trachea, pain on the affected side
that worsens at the end of inhalation and exhalation,
affected side not moving in and out upon inhalation
and exhalation, increased heart rate, rapid shallow
respirations, nagging cough, or feeling of air hunger.

Bleeding

Bleeding can occur if the client is moved during the
procedure or is at an increased risk for bleeding.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for coughing and hemoptysis.
● Monitor vital signs and laboratory results for evidence

of bleeding (hypotension, reduced Hgb level).
● Assess thoracentesis site for bleeding.

Infection

Infection can occur due to the introduction of bacteria
with the needle puncture.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Ensure that sterile technique is maintained.
● Monitor the client’s temperature following

the procedure

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 17 resPirATOry diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres 109

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who is scheduled for
a thoracentesis. Prior to the procedure, which of
the following actions should the nurse take?

A. Position the client in an upright position,
leaning over the bedside table.

B. explain the procedure.

C. Obtain ABGs.

d. Administer benzocaine spray.

2. A nurse at a provider’s office is reviewing
information with a client scheduled for pulmonary
function tests (PFTs). Which of the following
information should the nurse include?

A. “do not use inhaler medications
for 6 hr following the test.”

B. “do not smoke tobacco for 6 to
8 hr prior to the test.”

C. “you will be asked to bear down and
hold your breath during the test.”

d. “The arterial blood flow to your hand will
be evaluated as part of the test.”

3. A nurse is assessing a client following a
bronchoscopy. Which of the following findings
should the nurse report to the provider?

A. Blood‑tinged sputum

B. dry, nonproductive cough

C. sore throat

d. Bronchospasms

4. A nurse is caring for a client who is scheduled
for a thoracentesis. Which of the following
supplies should the nurse ensure are in the
client’s room? (select all that apply.)

A. Oxygen equipment

B. incentive spirometer

C. Pulse oximeter

d. sterile dressing

e. suture removal kit

5. A nurse is caring for a client following
a thoracentesis. Which of the following
manifestations should the nurse recognize as
risks for complications? (select all that apply.)

A. dyspnea

B. Localized bloody drainage on the dressing

C. Fever

d. Hypotension

e. report of pain at the puncture site

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is assessing a client following a thoracentesis.
Use the ATi Active Learning Template: Therapeutic
Procedure to complete this item.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST):
List three postprocedure nursing actions the
nurse should take while caring for this client.

110 CHAPTER 17 resPirATOry diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: Positioning the client in an upright position
and bent over the bedside table widens the intercostal
space for the provider to access the pleural fluid.

B. it is the responsibility of the provider, not the nurse,
to explain the procedure to the client.

C. it is not indicated that the client needs ABGs drawn.
d. Benzocaine spray is administered for a

bronchoscopy, not a thoracentesis.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

2. A. depending on the reason for the test, the client
might be asked to not use inhaler medications
for 4 to 6 hr before testing.

B. CORRECT: To ensure accurate results, the client should
not smoke tobacco for 6 to 8 hr prior to the test.

C. The Valsalva maneuver is not required for PFT
testing, but can be used during arterial blood
gas sampling to prevent an air embolus.

d. Allen’s test to evaluate arterial perfusion of the hand is
performed prior to arterial blood gas sampling.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

3. A. Blood‑tinged sputum is an expected finding
following a bronchoscopy.

B. A dry, nonproductive cough is an expected
finding following a bronchoscopy.

C. A sore throat is an expected finding
following a bronchoscopy.

d. CORRECT: Bronchospasms can indicate the client
is having difficulty maintaining a patent airway. The
nurse should notify the provider immediately.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

4. A. CORRECT: Oxygen equipment is necessary to
have in the client’s room if the client becomes
short of breath following the procedure.

B. An incentive spirometer is indicated for a client
following thoracic surgery to promote improved
oxygenation and pulmonary function.

C. CORRECT: Pulse oximetry is necessary to monitor
oxygen saturation level during the procedure.

d. CORRECT: A sterile dressing is necessary to apply
to the puncture site following the procedure.

e. A suture removal kit is needed to remove
sutures following surgery.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

5. A. CORRECT: dyspnea can indicate a pneumothorax
or a reaccumulation of fluid. The nurse should
notify the provider immediately.

B. Localized bloody drainage contained on a dressing is
an expected finding following a thoracentesis.

C. CORRECT: Fever can indicate an infection. The
nurse should notify the provider immediately.

d. CORRECT: Hypotension can indicate intrathoracic bleeding.
The nurse should notify the provider immediately.

e. The client’s report of pain at the puncture site is an
expected finding following a thoracentesis.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Therapeutic Procedure

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST)
● Apply a dressing over the puncture site, and
assess dressing for bleeding or drainage.

● Monitor vital signs and respiratory status (respiratory rate
and rhythm, breath sounds, oxygenation status) hourly
for the first several hours after the thoracentesis.

● Auscultate lungs for reduced breath sounds on side of thoracentesis.
● encourage the client to deep breathe to assist with lung expansion.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Diagnostic Tests

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 18 CHesT TUBe iNserTiON ANd MONiTOriNG 111

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 18 Chest Tube Insertion
and Monitoring

Chest tubes are inserted into the pleural
space to drain fluid, blood, or air; reestablish a
negative pressure; facilitate lung expansion; and
restore normal intrapleural pressure.

Chest tubes can be inserted in the emergency
department, at the bedside, or in the operating
room through a thoracotomy incision.

Chest tubes are removed when the lungs have
re‑expanded or there is no more fluid drainage
into the pleural space.

Chest tube systems
A disposable three-chamber drainage system is most
often used.

● First chamber: drainage collection
● Second chamber: water seal
● Third chamber: suction control (can be wet or dry)

Water seals are created by adding sterile fluid to a
chamber up to the 2 cm line. While this is the minimum
amount required for functioning, recommended amounts
can vary by manufacturer. The water seal allows air to exit
from the pleural space on exhalation and stops air from
entering the lungs with inhalation.

● To maintain the water seal, keep the chamber upright
and below the chest tube insertion site at all times.
Routinely monitor the water level due to the possibility
of evaporation. Add fluid as needed to maintain the
manufacturer’s recommended water seal level.

● Wet suction: The height of the sterile fluid in the
suction control chamber determines the amount of
suction transmitted to the pleural space. A suction
pressure of -20 cm H2O is commonly prescribed.
The level of water in the suction control chamber
determines the suction pressure. The system is
attached a suction source, and suction initiated until
gentle bubbling begins in the suction chamber.

● Dry suction: When a dry suction control device is used,
the provider prescribes a level of suction for the device,
typically -20 cm H2O. When connected to wall suction,
the regulator on the chest tube drainage system is set
to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

● Tidaling (movement of the fluid level with respiration)
is expected in the water seal chamber. With
spontaneous respirations, the fluid level will rise with
inspiration (increase in negative pressure in lung)
and will fall with expiration. With positive-pressure
mechanical ventilation, the fluid level will rise with
expiration and fall with inspiration.

● Cessation of tidaling in the water seal chamber signals
lung re-expansion or an obstruction within the system.

● Continuous bubbling in the water seal chamber
indicates an air leak in the system. When the tubes
are inserted to remove air from the pleural space,
intermittent bubbling is expected; it is common to see
bubbling during exhalation, sneezing, or coughing. In
this case, when bubbling is no longer seen, it indicates
that all of the air has been removed.

● When tubes are in the mediastinal space (such as
following open heart surgery), bubbling and tidaling are
not expected; pulsations in the fluid level might be seen.

Chest tube insertion

INDICATIONS

POTeNTiAL diAGNOses
Pneumothorax: partial to complete collapse of the lung
due to accumulation of air in the pleural space

Hemothorax: partial to complete collapse of the lung due
to accumulation of blood in the pleural space

Postoperative chest drainage: thoracotomy or open-heart
surgery

Pleural effusion: abnormal accumulation of fluid in the
pleural space

Pulmonary empyema: accumulation of pus in the pleural
space due to pulmonary infection, lung abscess, or
infected pleural effusion

CHAPTER 18

18.1 Chest tube drainage system

112 CHAPTER 18 CHesT TUBe iNserTiON ANd MONiTOriNG CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CLieNT PreseNTATiON
● Dyspnea
● Distended neck veins
● Hemodynamic instability
● Pleuritic chest pain
● Cough
● Absent or reduced breath sounds on the affected side
● Hyperresonance on percussion of affected side

(pneumothorax)
● Dullness or flatness on percussion of the affected side

(hemothorax, pleural effusion)
● Asymmetrical chest wall motion

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePrOCedUre
● Verify that the consent form is signed.
● Inform the client that breathing will improve when the

chest tube is in place.
● Assess for allergies to local anesthetics.
● Assist the client into the desired position (supine or

semi-Fowler’s).
● Prepare the chest drainage system per the facility’s

protocol. (Fill the water seal chamber.)
● Administer pain and sedation medications as prescribed.
● Prep the insertion site with povidone-iodine or other

facility-approved agent.

iNTrAPrOCedUre
● When the chest tube is inserted to drain fluid from the

lung, the tip of the tube is inserted near the base of the
lung on the side. When the chest tube is inserted to
remove air from the pleural space, the tip of the tube
will be near the apex of the lung.

● Assist the provider with insertion of the chest tube,
application of a dressing to the insertion site, and
set-up of the drainage system.

◯ Place the chest tube drainage system below the
client’s chest level with the tubing coiled on the bed.
Ensure that the tubing from the bed to the drainage
system is straight to promote drainage via gravity.

● Continually monitor vital signs and response to
the procedure.

POsTPrOCedUre
● Assess vital signs, breath sounds, SaO2, color, and

respiratory effort as indicated by the status of the client
and at least every 4 hr.

● Encourage coughing and deep breathing every 2 hr.
● Keep the drainage system below the client’s chest level,

including during ambulation.
● Monitor chest tube placement and function.

◯ Check the water seal level every 2 hr, and add fluid
as needed. The fluid level should fluctuate with
respiratory effort.

◯ Document the amount and color of drainage hourly
for the first 24 hr and then at least every 8 hr. Mark
the date, hour, and drainage level on the container
at the end of each shift. Report excessive drainage
(greater than 70 mL/hr) or drainage that is cloudy
or red to the provider. Drainage often increases with
position changes or coughing.

◯ Monitor the fluid in the suction control chamber, and
maintain the prescribed fluid level.

◯ Ensure the regulator dial on the dry suction device is
at the prescribed level.

◯ Check for expected findings of tidaling in the water
seal chamber and continuous bubbling only in the
suction chamber.

● Routinely monitor tubing for kinks, occlusions, or
loose connections.

● Monitor the chest tube insertion site for redness, pain,
infection, and crepitus (air leakage in subcutaneous tissue).

● Tape all connections between the chest tube and chest
tube drainage system.

● Position the client in the semi-to high-Fowler’s position
to promote optimal lung expansion and drainage of
fluid from the lungs.

● Administer pain medications as prescribed.
● Obtain a chest x-ray to verify the chest tube’s placement.
● Keep two enclosed hemostats, sterile water, and an

occlusive dressing located at the bedside at all times.
● Due to the risk of causing a tension pneumothorax, chest

tubes are clamped only when prescribed in specific
circumstances, such as in the case of an air leak, during
drainage system change, accidental disconnection of
tubing, or damage to the drainage system.

● Do not clamp, strip, or milk tubing; only perform
this action when prescribed. Stripping creates a high
negative pressure and can damage lung tissue.

● Notify the provider immediately if the client’s SaO2 is
less than 90%, if the eyelets of the chest tube become
visible, if drainage is above the prescribed amount or
stops in the first 24 hr, or complications occur.

18.2 Chest tube

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 18 CHesT TUBe iNserTiON ANd MONiTOriNG 113

COMPLICATIONS

Air leaks

Air leaks can result if a connection is not taped securely.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor the water seal chamber for continuous bubbling

(air leak finding). If observed, locate the source of
the air leak, and intervene accordingly (tighten the
connection, replace drainage system).

● Check all connections.
● Notify the provider if an air leak is noted. If prescribed,

gently apply a padded clamp to determine the location
of the air leak. Remove the clamp immediately following
assessment.

Accidental disconnection,
system breakage, or removal

These complications can occur at any time and
require immediate notification of the provider or rapid
response team.

NURSING ACTIONS
● If the tubing separates, instruct the client to exhale as

much as possible and to cough to remove as much air as
possible from the pleural space.

● If the chest tube drainage system is compromised,
immerse the end of the chest tube in sterile water to
provide a temporary water seal.

● If a chest tube is accidentally removed, dress the area
with dry, sterile gauze.

Tension pneumothorax
● Sucking chest wounds, prolonged clamping of the

tubing, kinks or obstruction in the tubing, or mechanical
ventilation with high levels of positive end expiratory
pressure (PEEP) can cause a tension pneumothorax.

● Assessment findings include tracheal deviation, absent
breath sounds on one side, distended neck veins,
respiratory distress, asymmetry of the chest, and cyanosis.

● Notify the provider or rapid response team immediately.

Chest tube removal
● Provide pain medication 30 min before removing

chest tubes.
● Assist the provider with sutures and chest tube removal.
● Instruct the client to take a deep breath, exhale, and

bear down (Valsalva maneuver) or to take a deep breath
and hold it (increases intrathoracic pressure and reduces
risk of air emboli) during chest tube removal.

● Apply airtight sterile petroleum jelly gauze dressing.
Secure in place with a heavyweight stretch tape.

● Obtain chest x-rays as prescribed. This is performed
to verify continued resolution of the pneumothorax,
hemothorax, or pleural effusion.

● Monitor for excessive wound drainage, findings of
infection, or recurrent pneumothorax

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is caring for a client who is scheduled for a chest
tube placement. Use the ATi Active Learning Template:
Therapeutic Procedure to complete this item.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST):
include three preprocedure nursing actions.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is preparing to care for a client following chest
tube placement. Which of the following items should
be available in the client’s room? (select all that apply.)

A. Oxygen
B. sterile water
C. enclosed hemostat clamps
d. indwelling urinary catheter
e. Occlusive dressing

2. A nurse is caring for a client who has a chest tube and
drainage system in place. The nurse observes that
the chest tube was accidentally removed. Which of
the following actions should the nurse take first?

A. Obtain a chest x‑ray.
B. Apply sterile gauze to the insertion site.
C. Place tape around the insertion site.
d. Assess respiratory status.

3. A nurse is assessing a client who has a chest tube
and drainage system in place. Which of the following
are expected findings? (select all that apply.)

A. Continuous bubbling in the water seal chamber
B. Gentle constant bubbling in the

suction control chamber
C. rise and fall in the level of water in the water

seal chamber with inspiration and expiration
d. exposed sutures without dressing
e. drainage system upright at chest level

4. A nurse is assisting a provider with the
removal of a chest tube. Which of the
following actions should the nurse take?

A. instruct the client to lie prone
with arms by the sides.

B. Complete a surgical checklist on the client.
C. remind the client that there is minimal

discomfort during the removal process.
d. Place an occlusive dressing over the

site once the tube is removed.

5. A nurse is planning care for a client following the
insertion of a chest tube and drainage system.
Which of the following should be included in
the plan of care? (select all that apply.)

A. encourage the client to cough and deep breathe.
B. Check for continuous bubbling

in the suction chamber.
C. strip the drainage tubing every 4 hr.
d. Clamp the tube once a day.
e. Obtain a chest x‑ray.

114 CHAPTER 18 CHesT TUBe iNserTiON ANd MONiTOriNG CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: Oxygen should be readily available in case
the client develops respiratory distress following chest
tube placement. The nurse should monitor respiration,
oxygen saturation, and lung sounds.

B. CORRECT: if the chest tubing becomes disconnected,
the end of the tubing should be placed in
sterile water to restore the water seal.

C. CORRECT: Hemostat clamps should be available
for the nurse to use to check for air leaks.

d. An indwelling urinary catheter is not indicated
for a client who has a chest tube.

e. CORRECT: if the chest tubing becomes disconnected,
the nurse should immediately place a gauze dressing
over the site. An occlusive dressing can also be necessary
to prevent the redevelopment of a pneumothorax.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

2. A. Obtaining a chest x‑ray determines if the lung is inflated
or if the client has a pneumothorax after the chest tube
was accidentally pulled out is an appropriate action, but
it is not the first action the nurse should take.

B. CORRECT: Using the airway, breathing, and circulation
(ABC) priority‑setting framework, application of a sterile
gauze to the site should be the first action for the nurse
to take. This allows air to escape and reduces the risk
for development of a tension pneumothorax.

C. Placing tape around the insertion site ensures
that the sterile gauze remains intact and is an
appropriate action, but it is not the first action.

d. Assessing respiratory status is an appropriate
action, but it is not the first action.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

3. A. Continuous bubbling in the water seal
chamber indicates an air leak.

B. CORRECT: Gentle bubbling in the suction control chamber
is an expected finding as air is being removed.

C. CORRECT: A rise and fall of the fluid level in the water
seal chamber upon inspiration and expiration indicates
that the drainage system is functioning properly.

d. The nurse should cover the sutures at the
insertion site with an airtight dressing.

e. The drainage system should be maintained in an upright
position below the level of the client’s chest.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

4. A. The position the client should assume during removal
of a chest tube depends upon the location of the
insertion site. The client would need to ensure the arm
is not covering the ribs on the side of insertion.

B. Chest tubes are removed by the provider
at the client’s bedside.

C. removal of a chest tube can be painful.
d. CORRECT: The nurse should place an occlusive

dressing over the site once the tube is removed
and observe the site for drainage.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

5. A. CORRECT: The nurse should instruct the client
to cough and deep breathe. This promotes
oxygenation and lung re‑expansion.

B. CORRECT: The nurse should check for continuous
bubbling in the suction chamber to verify that suction
is being maintained at an appropriate level.

C. The nurse should not milk or strip the drainage
tubing to check for kinks. This action is only to be
done when prescribed. stripping creates negative
high pressure and can damage lung tissue.

d. The nurse should not clamp the tubing unless indicated by
the provider. This is done to verify for the presence of an
air leak or if the tubing accidentally has been disconnected.
Clamping can cause a tension pneumothorax.

e. CORRECT: A chest x‑ray is obtained following the
procedure to verify chest tube placement.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Therapeutic Procedure

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST)
● Verify that the consent form is signed.
● reinforce client teaching. Breathing will improve
when the chest tube is in place.

● Assess for allergies to local anesthetics.
● Assist the client into the desired position (supine or semi‑Fowler’s).
● Prepare the chest drainage system per the facility’s
protocol. (Fill the water seal chamber.)

● Administer pain and sedation medications as prescribed.
● Prep the insertion site with povidone‑iodine
or other facility‑approved agent.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Therapeutic
Procedures

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON 115

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 19 Respiratory
Management
and Mechanical
Ventilation

Oxygen is a tasteless and colorless gas that
accounts for 21% of atmospheric air.

Oxygen is used to maintain adequate cellular
oxygenation. it is used in the treatment of many
acute and chronic respiratory problems.

Oxygen is administered in an attempt to
maintain an saO2 of 95% to 100% by using the
lowest amount of oxygen without putting the
client at risk for complications.

Clients who cannot spontaneously breathe
on their own require mechanical ventilation.
This can include clients who need respiratory
assistance due to severe respiratory disease,
general anesthesia, trauma, or other illnesses.

Oxygen delivery devices
Supplemental oxygen can be delivered by a variety of
methods based on the client’s particular circumstances.
The percentage of oxygen delivered is expressed as the
fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2). While the client is
receiving oxygen, the nurse should continue to monitor
vital signs, including SaO2 for changes, and intervene
as needed.

LOW‑FLOW OXyGeN deLiVery sysTeMs
These deliver varying amounts of oxygen based on the
method and the client’s breathing pattern.

Nasal cannula
● A length of tubing with two small prongs for insertion

into the nares (19.1)
● FiO2 24% to 44% at flow rates of 1 to 6 L/min

ADVANTAGES
● Safe, easy to apply, comfortable, and well tolerated.
● The client is able to eat, talk, and ambulate.

DISADVANTAGES
● FiO2 varies with the flow rate, and the client’s rate and

depth of breathing.
● Extended use can lead to skin breakdown and drying of

the mucous membranes.
● Tubing is easily dislodged.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess patency of the nares.
● Ensure that the prongs fit in the nares properly.
● Use water-soluble gel to prevent dry nares.
● Provide humidification for flow rates of 4 L/min

and greater.

CHAPTER 19

Online Image: Nasal Cannula

19.2 Simple face mask19.1 Nasal cannula

116 CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Simple face mask
● Covers the client’s nose and mouth. (19.2)
● FiO2 40% to 60% at flow rates of 5 to 8 L/min. (The

minimum flow rate is 5 L/min to ensure flushing of CO2
from the mask.)

ADVANTAGES: A face mask is easy to apply and can be
more comfortable than a nasal cannula.

DISADVANTAGES
● Flow rates of less than 5 L/min can result in

rebreathing of CO2.
● Device is poorly tolerated by clients who have anxiety

or claustrophobia.
● Eating, drinking, and talking are impaired.
● Use caution with clients who have a high risk of

aspiration or airway obstruction.
● Moisture and pressure can collect under the mask and

cause skin breakdown.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess proper fit to ensure a secure seal over the nose

and mouth.
● Ensure that the client wears a nasal cannula

during meals.

Partial rebreather mask
● Covers the client’s nose and mouth
● FiO2 40% to 75% at flow rates of 6 to 11 L/min

ADVANTAGES: The mask has a reservoir bag attached with
no valve, which allows the client to rebreathe up to one
third of exhaled air together with room air.

DISADVANTAGES
● Complete deflation of the reservoir bag during

inspiration causes CO2 buildup.
● FiO2 varies with the client’s breathing pattern.
● Mask is poorly tolerated by clients who have anxiety

or claustrophobia.
● Eating, drinking, and talking are impaired.
● Use with caution for clients who have a high risk of

aspiration or airway obstruction.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Keep the reservoir bag from deflating by adjusting the

oxygen flow rate to keep it inflated.
● Assess proper fit to ensure a secure seal over the nose

and mouth.
● Assess for skin breakdown beneath the edges of the

mask and bridge of nose.
● Ensure that the client uses a nasal cannula

during meals.

Nonrebreather mask
● Covers the client’s nose and mouth (19.3)
● FiO2 80% to 95% at flow rates of 10 to 15 L/min to keep

the reservoir bag two-thirds full during inspiration
and expiration

ADVANTAGES
● Delivers the highest O2 concentration possible (except

for intubation).
● A one-way valve situated between the mask and

reservoir allows the client to inhale maximum O2
from the reservoir bag. The two exhalation ports
have flaps covering them that prevent room air from
entering the mask.

DISADVANTAGES
● The valve and flap on the mask must be intact and

functional during each breath.
● Poorly tolerated by clients who have anxiety

or claustrophobia.
● Eating, drinking, and talking are impaired.
● Use with caution for clients who have a high risk of

aspiration or airway obstruction.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Perform an hourly assessment of the valve and flap.
● Assess proper fit to ensure a secure seal over the nose

and mouth.
● Assess for skin breakdown beneath the edges of the

mask and bridge of nose.
● Ensure that the client uses a nasal cannula

during meals.

HiGH‑FLOW OXyGeN deLiVery sysTeMs
These deliver precise amounts of oxygen when
properly fitted.

Venturi mask
● Covers the client’s nose and mouth (19.4)
● FiO2 24% to 60% at flow rates of 4 to 12 L/min via

different sizes of adapters, which allow specific amounts
of air to mix with oxygen

ADVANTAGES
● Delivers the most precise oxygen concentration.
● Humidification is not required.
● Best suited for clients who have chronic lung disease.

DISADVANTAGES: Use of a Venturi mask is expensive.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess frequently to ensure an accurate flow rate.
● Make sure the tubing is free of kinks.
● Assess for skin breakdown beneath the edges of the

mask, particularly on the nares.
● Ensure that the client wears a nasal cannula

during meals.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON 117

Aerosol mask, face tent, and tracheostomy collar
● Face tent fits loosely around the face and neck. (19.5)
● Tracheostomy collar is a small mask that covers a

surgically created opening in the trachea.
● FiO2 24% to 100% at flow rates of at least 10 L/min.

(Provide high humidification with oxygen delivery.)

ADVANTAGES
● Good for clients who do not tolerate masks well.
● Useful for clients who have facial trauma, burns, or

thick secretions.

DISADVANTAGES: High humidification requires frequent
monitoring.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Empty condensation from the tubing often.
● Ensure that there is adequate water in the

humidification canister.
● Ensure that the aerosol mist leaves from the vents

during inspiration and expiration.
● Make sure the tubing does not pull on the tracheostomy.

T‑piece

FiO2 24% to 100% at flow rates of at least 10 L/min

ADVANTAGES: Can be used for clients who have
tracheostomies, laryngectomies, or endotracheal tubes (ET).

DISADVANTAGES: High humidification requires frequent
monitoring.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Ensure that the exhalation port is open and uncovered.
● Ensure that the T-piece does not pull on the

tracheostomy or ET tube.
● Ensure that the mist is evident during inspiration

and expiration.

Oxygen therapy

INDICATIONS

POTeNTiAL diAGNOses
Hypoxemia and hypoxia:

● Hypoxemia is an inadequate level of oxygen in the
blood. Hypovolemia, hypoventilation, and interruption
of arterial flow can lead to hypoxemia.

● Hypoxia is a decrease in tissue oxygenation.

CLieNT PreseNTATiON

Early findings
● Tachypnea
● Tachycardia
● Restlessness
● Pale skin and mucous membranes
● Elevated blood pressure
● Findings of respiratory distress (use of accessory

muscles, nasal flaring, tracheal tugging, and
adventitious lung sounds)

Late findings
● Confusion and stupor
● Cyanotic skin and mucous membranes
● Bradypnea
● Bradycardia
● Hypotension
● Cardiac dysrhythmias

19.4 Venturi mask19.3 Nonrebreather mask 19.5 Face tent

118 CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePArATiON OF THe CLieNT
● Explain all procedures to the client.
● Place the client in semi-Fowler’s or Fowler’s position to

facilitate breathing and promote chest expansion.
● Ensure that all equipment is working properly.

ONGOiNG CAre
● Provide oxygen therapy at the lowest flow that will

correct hypoxemia.
● Assess/monitor respiratory rate, rhythm and effort, lung

sounds, and SaO2 to determine the client’s need for
supplemental oxygen.

◯ Manifestations of hypoxemia are shortness of breath,
anxiety, tachypnea, tachycardia, restlessness, pallor
or cyanosis of the skin or mucous membranes,
adventitious breath sounds, and confusion.

◯ Manifestations of hypercarbia (elevated levels of CO2)
are restlessness, hypertension, and headache.

● Monitor diagnostic reports that show information
related to oxygenation, including ABGs.

● Promote good oral hygiene, and provide as needed.
● Promote turning, coughing, deep breathing, use of

incentive spirometer, and suctioning.
● Promote rest, and decrease environmental stimuli.
● Provide emotional support for clients who

appear anxious.
● Assess nutritional status. Provide supplements

as prescribed.
● Assess/monitor skin integrity. Provide moisture and

pressure-relief devices as indicated.
● Assess/monitor and document the client’s response to

oxygen therapy.
● Titrate oxygen to maintain prescribed oxygen saturation.
● Discontinue supplemental oxygen gradually.

iNTerVeNTiONs
Monitor for manifestations of respiratory depression,
such as decreased respiratory rate and decreased level of
consciousness. Notify the provider if findings are present.

Respiratory distress
● Position the client for maximum ventilation (Fowler’s or

semi-Fowler’s position).
● Complete a focused respiratory assessment.
● Promote deep breathing, and use supplemental oxygen

as prescribed.
● Stay with the client, and provide emotional support to

decrease anxiety.
● Promote airway clearance by encouraging coughing and

oral/oropharyngeal suctioning if necessary.

COMPLICATIONS

Oxygen toxicity
● Oxygen toxicity can result from high concentrations of

oxygen (typically above 50%), long durations of oxygen
therapy (typically more than 24 to 48 hr), and the
client’s degree of lung disease.

● Manifestations include a nonproductive cough,
substernal pain, nasal stuffiness, nausea, vomiting,
fatigue, headache, sore throat, and hypoventilation.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use the lowest level of oxygen necessary to maintain

the prescribed SaO2.
● Monitor ABGs. Notify the provider if results are outside

the expected or prescribed ranges.
● Use an oxygen mask with continuous positive airway

pressure (CPAP) or bi-level positive airway pressure
(BiPAP) if prescribed to help decrease the amount of
oxygen needed.

● Use positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) as
prescribed while the client is receiving mechanical
ventilation to help decrease the amount of
needed oxygen.

Oxygen‑induced hypoventilation

Oxygen-induced hypoventilation can develop in clients
who have COPD and chronic hypoxemia with hypercarbia.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor respiratory rate and pattern, level of

consciousness, and SaO2.
● Provide oxygen therapy at the lowest flow rate that

manages hypoxemia.
● If the client tolerates it, use a Venturi mask to deliver

precise oxygen levels.
● Notify the provider of findings of respiratory depression,

such as a decreased respiratory rate or a decreased level
of consciousness.

Combustion

Oxygen is combustible.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Post “No Smoking” or “Oxygen in Use” signs to alert

others of a fire hazard.
● Know where the closest fire extinguisher is located.
● Educate the client and others about the fire hazard of

smoking during oxygen use.
● Have the client wear a cotton gown because synthetic or

wool fabrics can generate static electricity.
● Ensure that all electric devices (razors, hearing aids,

radios) are working well.
● Ensure electric machinery (monitors, suction machines)

are well-grounded.
● Do not use volatile, flammable materials (alcohol or

acetone) near clients who are receiving oxygen.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON 119

Noninvasive positive
pressure ventilation

Continuous positive airway pressure

Provides positive pressure using a leak-proof mask via
noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation device.

● The device is to keep the airways throughout the
respiratory cycle open and improve gas exchange in
the alveoli.

● Most effective treatment for sleep apnea because the
positive pressure acts as a splint to keep the upper
airway and trachea open during sleep

Bi‑level positive airway pressure

Machine cycles to provide a set positive inspiratory
pressure when inspiration takes place and then during
expiration to deliver a lower set end expiratory pressure.

● Requires wearing a leak-proof mask.
● Most often used for clients who have COPD and who

require ventilatory assistance.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess skin around the masks for breakdown as a tight

seal is required.
● Check the percentage of oxygen on the machine

(both) for both the inspiratory pressure and expiratory
pressure when the client is receiving BiPAP.

Transtracheal oxygen therapy

Delivers oxygen directly in to the lungs per a small,
flexible catheter that is passed through the trachea via a
small incision.

● The oxygen delivery is reduced by 55% for a client at
rest and 30% for a client who is active.

● The catheter is less visible and avoids irritation that
occurs from the use of nasal prongs.

Endotracheal tube and
endotracheal intubation

INDICATIONS
● A tube is inserted through the client’s nose or mouth

into the trachea. This allows for emergency airway
management of the client.

● Oral intubation is the easiest and quickest form
of intubation and is often performed in the
emergency department.

● Nasal intubation is performed when the client has facial
or oral trauma. This route is not used if the client has a
clotting problem.

PLACeMeNT
● Intubation is typically performed by a nurse anesthetist,

anesthesiologist, critical care or emergency physician,
or pulmonologist.

● A chest x-ray verifies correct placement of the
endotracheal (ET) tube.

● ET tubes can be cuffed or uncuffed. The cuff on the
tracheal end of an ET tube is inflated to ensure proper
placement and the formation of a seal between the cuff
and the tracheal wall. This prevents air from leaking
around the ET tube.

● The seal ensures that an adequate amount of tidal
volume is delivered by the mechanical ventilator when
attached to the external end of the ET tube.

● The client is unable to talk when the cuff is inflated.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Have resuscitation equipment to include a manual

resuscitation bag with a face mask at the bedside at
all times.

● Ensure the intubation attempts last no longer than
30 seconds and then reoxygenate before another attempt
to intubate.

● Monitor vital signs and verify ET tube placement
by checking end-tidal carbon dioxide levels and
chest x-ray.

● Auscultate for breath sounds bilaterally after intubation.
● Observe for symmetric chest movement.
● Stabilize the endotracheal tube with a tube-holding

device or secure with tape.
● Monitor for hypoxemia, dysrhythmias, and aspiration.

Mechanical ventilation
Mechanical ventilation provides breathing support until
lung function is restored, delivering 100% oxygen that
is warmed (body temperature 37° C [98.6° F]) and%
humidified at FiO2 levels between 21% to 100%.

● Positive-pressure ventilators deliver air to the lungs
under pressure throughout inspiration to keep the
alveoli open and to prevent alveolar collapse during
expiration. Benefits include the following.

◯ Forced/enhanced lung expansion
◯ Improved gas exchange (oxygenation)
◯ Decreased work of breathing

● Mechanical ventilation can be delivered via:
◯ ET tube.
◯ Tracheostomy tube.

● Mechanical ventilators can be cycled based on pressure,
volume, time, and/or flow. (19.6)

Online Videos: Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation, Transtracheal Oxygen Therapy

120 CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

INDICATIONS
To maintain a patent airway and adequate oxygen
saturation of 95% or greater.

POTeNTiAL diAGNOses
● Hypoxemia, hypoventilation with respiratory acidosis

◯ Airway trauma
◯ Exacerbation of COPD
◯ Acute pulmonary edema due to myocardial infarction
or heart failure

◯ Asthma attack
◯ Head injuries, cerebrovascular accident, or coma
◯ Neurological disorders (multiple sclerosis, myasthenia
gravis, Guillain-Barré)

◯ Obstructive sleep apnea
● Respiratory support following surgery

(decrease workload)
● Respiratory support while under general anesthesia or

heavy sedation

CONSIDERATIONS

PrePArATiON OF THe CLieNT
● Explain the procedure to the client.
● Establish a method for the client to communicate, such

as asking yes/no questions, providing writing materials,
using a dry-erase and/or picture communication board,
or lip reading.

ONGOiNG CAre
● Maintain a patent airway.

◯ Assess the position and placement of tube.
◯ Document tube placement in centimeters at the
client’s teeth or lips.

◯ Use two staff members for repositioning and
resecuring the tube.

◯ Apply protective barriers (soft wrist restraints) according
to hospital protocol to prevent self-extubation.

◯ Use caution when moving the client.

19.6 Common modes of ventilation, adjunctive therapy, and weaning modalities

Mode of ventilation
ASSIST‑CONTROL (AC)

● Preset rate and tidal volume. Client initiates breath and
ventilator takes over for the intubated client.

● Hyperventilation can result in respiratory alkalosis.
● Client can require sedation to decrease respiratory rate.

SYNCHRONIZED INTERMITTENT MANDATORY VENTILATION (SIMV)
● Preset rate and tidal volume for machine breaths.
● Client initiates breath and tidal volume will depend upon client’s effort.
● Ventilator initiated breaths are synchronized to reduce
competition between ventilator and client.

● Used as a regular mode of ventilation or a weaning mode (rate decreased
to allow more spontaneous ventilation) for the intubated client.

● Can increase work of breathing, causing respiratory muscle fatigue.

INVERSE RATIO VENTILATION (IRV)
● Lengthens inspiratory phase to maximize oxygenation in the intubated client.
● Used for hypoxemia refractory to PeeP.
● Uncomfortable for clients and requires sedation
and/or neuromuscular blocking agents.

● High risk of volutrauma and decreased cardiac output due to air trapping.

AIRWAY PRESSURE RELEASE VENTILATION (APRV)
● Allows alveolar gas to be expelled by the lungs own natural recoil
● Time‑triggered and pressure‑limited
● Breaths can be initiated spontaneously or by the ventilator
● Causes less ventilator‑induced lung injury and fewer
adverse effects on the cardiovascular system

INDEPENDENT LUNG VENTILATION (ILV)
● double‑lumen eT tube allows ventilation of each lung separately.
● Used for clients who have unilateral lung disease.
● requires two ventilators, sedation and/or use of neuromuscular blocking agents.

HIGH‑FREQUENCY VENTILATION
● delivers small amount of gas at rates of 60 to 3,000 cycles/min.
● High frequency ventilation often used in children.
● Client must be sedated and/or receiving neuromuscular blocking agents.
● Breath sounds difficult to assess.

Adjunctive therapy
POSITIVE END EXPIRATORY
PRESSURE (PEEP)

● Preset pressure delivered
during expiration.

● Added to prescribed ventilator
settings to treat persistent hypoxemia.

● improves oxygenation by
enhancing gas exchange and
preventing atelectasis.

● Amount of PeeP added is
typically 5 to 15 cm H2O.

Weaning modality
PRESSURE SUPPORT
VENTILATION (PSV)

● Works to keep the alveoli from
collapsing during expiration.

● Allows for greater oxygenation and
makes the work of breathing easier.

● Allows for lower levels of
FiO2 to be used.

● Can be used with iMV or AC modes
to treat or prevent atelectasis.

● settings 5 to 20 cm H2O (greater than
20 cm H2O can cause lung damage).

CONTINUOUS POSITIVE
AIRWAY PRESSURE (CPAP)

● Positive pressure supplied during
spontaneous breathing. No
ventilator breaths delivered unless
in conjunction with siMV.

● risks include volutrauma, decreased
cardiac output and iCP.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON 121

◯ Suction oral and tracheal secretions to maintain
tube patency.

◯ Support ventilator tubing to prevent mucosal erosion
and displacement.

◯ Have a resuscitation bag with a face mask available
at the bedside at all times in case of ventilator
malfunction or accidental extubation.

● Assess respiratory status every 1 to 2 hr: breath sounds
equal bilaterally, presence of reduced or absent breath
sounds, respiratory effort, or spontaneous breaths.

● Suction the tracheal tube to clear secretions from
the airway.

● Monitor and document ventilator settings hourly.
◯ Rate, FiO2, and tidal volume
◯ Mode of ventilation
◯ Use of adjuncts (PEEP, CPAP)
◯ Plateau or peak inspiratory pressure (PIP)
◯ Alarm settings

● Monitor ventilator alarms, which signal if the client is
not receiving the correct ventilation.

◯ Never turn off ventilator alarms.
◯ There are three types of ventilator alarms.

■ Volume (low pressure) alarms indicate a low
exhaled volume due to a disconnection, cuff leak,
and/or tube displacement.

■ Pressure (high pressure) alarms indicate excess
secretions, client biting the tubing, kinks in
the tubing, client coughing, pulmonary edema,
bronchospasm, or pneumothorax.

■ Apnea alarms indicate that the ventilator does
not detect spontaneous respiration in a preset
time period.

● Maintain adequate (but not excessive) volume in the cuff
of the endotracheal tube.

◯ Assess the cuff pressure at least every 8 hr. Maintain
the cuff pressure below 20 mm Hg (or 20 to
30 cm H2O) to reduce the risk of tracheal necrosis.

◯ Assess for an air leak around the cuff (client speaking,
air hissing, or decreasing SaO2). Inadequate cuff
pressure can result in inadequate oxygenation and/or
accidental extubation.

● Administer medications as prescribed.
◯ Analgesics: morphine and fentanyl
◯ Sedatives: propofol, diazepam, lorazepam, midazolam,
and haloperidol

■ Clients receiving mechanical ventilation can require
sedation or paralytic agents to prevent competition
between extrinsic and intrinsic breathing and the
resulting effects of hyperventilation.

◯ Neuromuscular blocking agents: pancuronium,
atracurium, and vecuronium are infrequently used in
the clinical setting due to the their long half-life.

■ Neuromuscular-blocking agents paralyze
muscles, but do not sedate or relieve pain. The
use of a sedative or analgesic agent in conjunction
with a neuromuscular blocking agent is
typically prescribed.

◯ Ulcer-preventing agents: famotidine or lansoprazole
◯ Antibiotics for established infections

● Reposition the oral endotracheal tube every 24 hr or
according to protocol. Assess for skin breakdown.

◯ Older adult clients have fragile skin and are more
prone to skin and mucous membrane breakdown.
Older adult clients have decreased oral secretions.
They require frequent, gentle skin and oral care.

● Provide adequate nutrition.
◯ Assess gastrointestinal functioning every 8 hr.
◯ Monitor bowel habits.
◯ Administer enteral or parenteral feedings
as prescribed.

● Continually monitor the client during the weaning
process and watch for signs of weaning intolerance.

◯ Respirations greater than 30/min or less than 8/min
◯ Blood pressure or heart rate changes more than 20%
of baseline

◯ SaO2 less than 90%
◯ Dysrhythmias, elevated ST segment
◯ Significant decrease in tidal volume
◯ Labored respirations, increased use of accessory
muscles, and diaphoresis

◯ Restlessness, anxiety, and decreased level of
consciousness

● Have a manual resuscitation bag with a face mask and
oxygen readily available at the client’s bedside.

● Have reintubation equipment at bedside.
● Suction the oropharynx and trachea.
● Deflate the cuff on the endotracheal tube, and remove

the tube during peak inspiration.
● Following extubation, monitor for signs of respiratory

distress or airway obstruction (ineffective cough,
dyspnea, stridor).

● Assess SpO2 and vital signs every 5 min.
● Encourage coughing, deep breathing, and use of the

incentive spirometer.
● Reposition the client to promote mobility of secretions.
● Older adult clients have decreased respiratory muscle

strength and chest wall compliance, which makes them
more susceptible to aspiration, atelectasis, and
pulmonary infections. Older adult clients require more
frequent position changes to promote mobility of
secretions.

COMPLICATIONS

Trauma

Barotrauma (damage to the lungs by positive pressure)
can occur due to a pneumothorax, subcutaneous
emphysema or pneumomediastinum.
Volutrauma (damage to the lungs by volume delivered
from one lung to the other).

Fluid retention

Fluid retention in clients who are receiving mechanical
ventilation is due to decreased cardiac output, activation
of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, and/or
ventilator humidification.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor intake and output, weight,
breath sounds, and endotracheal secretions.

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Oxygen toxicity

Oxygen toxicity can result from high concentrations of
oxygen (typically greater than 50%), long durations of
oxygen therapy (typically more than 24 to 48 hr), and/or
the client’s degree of lung disease.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for fatigue, restlessness, severe
dyspnea, tachycardia, tachypnea, crackles, and cyanosis.

Hemodynamic compromise

Mechanical ventilation has a risk of increased thoracic
pressure (positive pressure), which can result in decreased
venous return.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for tachycardia, hypotension,
urine output less than or equal to 30 mL/hr, cool, clammy
extremities, decreased peripheral pulses, and a decreased
level of consciousness.

Aspiration

Keep the head of the bed elevated 30° at all times to
decrease the risk of aspiration.

NURSING ACTIONS: Check residuals every 4 hr if the
client is receiving enteral feedings to decrease the risk
of aspiration.

Gastrointestinal ulceration (stress ulcer)

Gastric ulcers can be evident in clients receiving
mechanical ventilation.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor gastrointestinal drainage and stools for

occult blood.
● Administer ulcer prevention medications (sucralfate and

histamine2 blockers).

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who is receiving mechanical
ventilation and is on pressure support ventilation
(PsV) mode. Which of the following statements by
the nurse indicates an understanding of PsV?

A. “it keeps the alveoli open and prevents atelectasis.”
B. “it allows preset pressure delivered

during spontaneous ventilation.”
C. “it guarantees minimal minute ventilator.”
d. “it delivers a preset ventilatory rate

and tidal volume to the client.”

2. A nurse is caring for a client who is experiencing
respiratory distress. Which of the following
early manifestations of hypoxemia should the
nurse recognize? (select all that apply.)

A. Confusion
B. Pale skin
C. Bradycardia
d. Hypotension
e. elevated blood pressure

3. A nurse is caring for a client who is receiving
mechanical ventilation via an endotracheal tube.
Which of the following actions should the nurse take?

A. Apply a vest restraint if
self‑extubation is attempted.

B. Monitor ventilator settings every 8 hr.
C. document tube placement in

centimeters at the angle of jaw.
d. Assess breath sounds every 4 hr.

4. A nurse is caring for a client who has dyspnea and
will receive oxygen continuously. Which of the
following oxygen devices should the nurse use to
deliver a precise amount of oxygen to the client?

A. Nonrebreather mask
B. Venturi mask
C. Nasal cannula
d. simple face mask

5. A nurse is reviewing the plan of care for a client
who is receiving mechanical ventilation. Which of
the following ventilator modes will increase the
client’s work of breathing? (select all that apply.)

A. Assist‑control
B. synchronized intermittent mandatory ventilation
C. Continuous positive airway pressure
d. Pressure support ventilation
e. independent lung ventilation

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is planning care for a client who is receiving
mechanical ventilation. Use the ATi Active Learning
Template: Therapeutic Procedure to complete this item.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: describe three
nursing actions to maintain the client’s airway.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON 123

Application Exercises Key

1. A. PeeP maintains pressure in the lungs to keep
alveoli open or prevent atelectasis.

B. CORRECT: PsV allows preset pressure delivered during
spontaneous ventilation to decrease the work of breathing.

C. PsV does not guarantee minimal minute ventilation
because no ventilator breaths are delivered.

d. Assist‑control (AC) mode delivers a preset
ventilatory rate and tidal volume to the client.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

2. A. Confusion is a late manifestation of hypoxemia.
B. CORRECT: Pale skin is an early manifestation of hypoxemia.
C. Bradycardia is a late manifestation of hypoxemia.
d. Hypotension is a late manifestation of hypoxemia.
e. CORRECT: elevated blood pressure is an

early manifestation of hypoxemia.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

3. A. The nurse should apply soft wrist restraints to prevent
self‑extubation or according to facility policy.

B. The nurse should monitor ventilator settings hourly.
C. The nurse should document tube placement in

centimeters at the client’s teeth or lips.
d. CORRECT: The nurse should assess the breath sounds of

a client receiving mechanical ventilation every 4 hr.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

4. A. A nonrebreather mask delivers an
approximated amount of oxygen.

B. CORRECT: A venturi mask incorporates an adapter that
allows a precise amount of oxygen to be delivered.

C. A nasal cannula delivers an approximated amount of oxygen.
d. A simple face mask delivers an

approximated amount of oxygen.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

5. A. Assist‑control mode takes over the work of breathing.
B. CORRECT: synchronized intermittent mandatory

ventilation requires that the client generate
force to take spontaneous breaths.

C. CORRECT: Continuous positive airway pressure requires that
the client generate force to take spontaneous breaths.

d. CORRECT: Pressure support ventilation requires that the
client generate force to take spontaneous breaths.

e. independent lung ventilation mode is used for unilateral
lung disease to ventilate the lung individually.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using ATI Active Learning Template: Therapeutic Procedure

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● Assess the position and placement of the tube.
● document tube placement in centimeters at the client’s teeth or lips.
● Use two staff members for repositioning and resecuring the tube.
● Apply protective barriers (soft wrist restraints) according
to hospital protocol to prevent self‑extubation.

● Use caution when moving the client.
● suction oral and tracheal secretions to maintain tube patency.
● support ventilator tubing to prevent mucosal
erosion and displacement.

● Have a resuscitation bag with a face mask available at the bedside at
all times in case of ventilator malfunction or accidental extubation.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Alterations in
Body Systems

124 CHAPTER 19 resPirATOry MANAGeMeNT ANd MeCHANiCAL VeNTiLATiON CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 20 ACUTe resPirATOry disOrders 125

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: RESPIRATORY SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 20 Acute Respiratory
Disorders

The airway structures permit air to enter and
provide for adequate oxygenation and tissue
perfusion. Common acute and chronic disorders
affect these airway structures.

A nursing priority for clients who have acute
respiratory disorders is to maintain a patent
airway to promote oxygenation.

Acute respiratory disorders include rhinitis,
sinusitis, influenza, and pneumonia.

Pneumonia is an inflammatory process in the
lungs that produces excess fluid. Pneumonia is
triggered by infectious organisms or by the
aspiration of an irritant, such as fluid or a foreign
object. The inflammatory process in the lung
parenchyma results in edema and exudate that
fills the alveoli. Pneumonia can be a primary
disease or a complication of another disease or
condition. it affects people of all ages, but
young clients, older adult clients, and clients
who are immunocompromised are more
susceptible. immobility is a contributing factor in
the development of pneumonia.

There are two types of pneumonia.
Community‑acquired pneumonia (CAP) is
the most common type and often occurs
as a complication of influenza. Health
care‑associated pneumonia (HAP) has a higher
mortality rate and is more likely to be resistant
to antibiotics. it usually takes 24 to 48 hr from
the time the client is exposed to acquire HAP.

Older adult clients are more susceptible to
infections and have decreased pulmonary reserves
due to age‑related lung changes, including
decreased lung elasticity and thickening alveoli.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Perform hand hygiene to prevent the spread of infection
by bacteria and viruses.

● Encourage immunizations that prevent respiratory
disorders, especially immunizations for influenza and
pneumonia to younger children and older adults, and
people who have chronic illnesses or who are
immunocompromised.

● Limit exposure to airborne allergens, which trigger a
hypersensitivity reaction.

● Promote smoking cessation.

risK FACTOrs
● Extremely young or advanced age
● Recent exposure to viral, bacterial, or influenza infections
● Lack of current immunization status (pneumonia,

influenza)
● Exposure to plant pollen, molds, animal dander, foods,

medications, and environmental contaminants
● Tobacco smoke
● Substance use (alcohol, cocaine)
● Chronic lung disease (asthma, emphysema)
● Immunocompromised status
● Presence of a foreign body
● Conditions that increase the risk of aspiration (dysphagia)
● Impaired ability to mobilize secretions (decreased level

of consciousness, immobility, recent abdominal or
thoracic surgery)

● Inactivity and immobility
● Mechanical ventilation (ventilator-acquired pneumonia)

Rhinitis
Rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal mucosa and often
the mucosa in the sinuses that can be caused by infection
(viral or bacterial) or allergens.

● The common cold (coryza) is caused by viruses spread
from person to person in droplets from sneezing and
coughing, or by direct contact.

● This disorder often coexists with other disorders, such
as asthma and allergies, and can be acute or chronic,
nonallergic or allergic (seasonal or perennial).

● The presence of an allergen causes histamine release and
other mediators from WBCs in the nasal mucosa. The
mediators bind to blood vessel receptors causing capillary
leakage, which leads to local edema and swelling.

CHAPTER 20

126 CHAPTER 20 ACUTe resPirATOry disOrders CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

ASSESSMENT

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Excessive nasal drainage, runny nose (rhinorrhea), and

nasal congestion
● Purulent nasal discharge
● Sneezing and pruritus of the nose, throat, and ears
● Itchy, watery eyes
● Sore, dry throat
● Red, inflamed, swollen nasal mucosa
● Low-grade fever
● Diagnostic testing can include allergy tests to identify

possible allergens.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Encourage rest (8 to 10 hr/day) and increased fluid

intake (at least 2,000 mL/day).
● Encourage the use of a home humidifier or breathing

steamy air after running hot shower water.
● Promote proper disposal of tissues and use of cough

etiquette (sneeze or cough into tissue, elbow or shoulder
and not the hands).

MediCATiONs
Antihistamines , such as brompheniramine/
pseudoephedrine; leukotriene inhibitors, such as
montelukast; and mast cell stabilizers, such as cromolyn,
are used to block the release of chemicals from WBCs that
bind with receptors in nasal tissues, which prevent edema
and itching.

● Older adults should be aware of adverse effects (vertigo,
hypertension, urinary retention).

Decongestants , such as phenylephrine, constrict blood
vessels and decrease edema.

● CLIENT EDUCATION: Use as prescribed for 3 to 4 days to
avoid rebound nasal congestion.

Intranasal glucocorticoid sprays are the most effective for
prevention and treatment of seasonal and perennial rhinitis.

Antipyretics are used if fever is present.

Antibiotics are given if a bacterial infection can be identified.

CLieNT edUCATiON
● Hand hygiene is a measure to prevent transmission.
● Complementary therapies such as echinacea, large doses

of vitamin C, and zinc preparations (lozenges and nasal
sprays) can be useful in promoting improved immune
response.

● Limiting exposure to others will prevent and reduce
transmission. This is especially important for
vulnerable populations such as the very young, older
adults, and people who are immunosuppressed.

Sinusitis
Sinusitis, often called rhinosinusitis, is an inflammation
of the mucous membranes of one or more of the sinuses,
usually the maxillary or frontal sinus. Swelling of the
mucosa can block the drainage of secretions, which can
cause a sinus infection.

● Sinusitis often occurs after rhinitis and can be
associated with a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps,
inhaled air pollutants or cocaine, facial trauma, dental
infections, or loss of immune function.

● The infection is often caused by a virus, Streptococcus
pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, diplococcus,
and bacteroides.

ASSESSMENT

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Nasal congestion
● Headache
● Facial pressure or pain (worse when head is

tilted forward)
● Cough
● Bloody or purulent nasal drainage
● Tenderness to palpation of forehead, orbital, and

facial areas
● Low-grade fever

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
● CT scan or sinus x-rays confirm the diagnosis, which is

typically based upon findings and physical assessment.
● Endoscopic sinus cavity lavage or surgery to relieve

the obstruction and promote drainage of secretions
may be done.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Encourage the use of steam humidification, sinus

irrigation, saline nasal sprays, and hot and wet packs to
relieve sinus congestion and pain.

● Teach the client to increase fluid intake and rest.
● Discourage air travel, swimming, and diving.
● Encourage cessation of tobacco use in any form.
● Instruct the client on correct technique for sinus

irrigation and self-administration of nasal sprays.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 20 ACUTe resPirATOry disOrders 127

MediCATiONs
Nasal decongestants , such as phenylephrine, are used to
reduce swelling of the mucosa.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Begin over-the-counter decongestant use at the first

manifestation of sinusitis.
● Manifestations of rebound nasal congestion can occur if

decongestants are used for more than 3 to 4 days.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics , such as amoxicillin, are
used on a limited basis for a confirmed causative bacterial
pathogen.

Pain relief medications include NSAIDs, acetaminophen,
and aspirin.

CLieNT edUCATiON
● Sinus irrigation and saline nasal sprays are an effective

alternative to antibiotics for relieving nasal congestion.
● Contact the provider for manifestations of a severe

headache, neck stiffness (nuchal rigidity), and high
fever, which can indicate possible complications.

COMPLICATIONS
Meningitis and encephalitis can occur if pathogens enter
the bloodstream from the sinus cavity.

Influenza
Seasonal influenza , or “flu,” occurs as an epidemic,
usually in the fall and winter months.

● It is a highly contagious acute viral infection that occurs
in children and adults of all ages.

● Influenza can be caused by one of several virus families,
and this can vary yearly. Adults are contagious from
24 hr before manifestations develop and up to 5 days
after they begin.

Pandemic influenza refers to a viral infection among
animals or birds that has mutated and is becoming highly
infectious to humans. The resulting viral infection has the
potential to spread globally, such as H1N1 (“swine flu”)
and H5N1 (“avian flu”).

ASSESSMENT

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Severe headache and muscle aches
● Chills
● Fatigue, weakness
● Severe diarrhea and cough (avian flu)
● Fever
● Hypoxia (avian flu)

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres
AV Avantage A/H5N1 Flu Test

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Maintain droplet and contact precautions for

hospitalized clients who have pandemic influenza.
● Provide saline gargles.
● Monitor hydration status, intake, and output.
● Administer fluid therapy as prescribed.
● Monitor respiratory status.

MediCATiONs

Antivirals
● Amantadine, rimantadine, and ribavirin may be

prescribed for treatment and prevention of influenza.
● Duration of the influenza infection can be shortened by

antivirals such as the oral inhalant zanamivir and the
oral tablet oseltamivir. In cases of pandemic influenza,
these medications may be distributed widely among
the population.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Begin antiviral medications within
24 to 48 hr after the onset of manifestations.

Influenza vaccines
● Quadrivalent and trivalent vaccines are prepared yearly

depending upon the suspected strain of influenza
expected to appear. They include an IM injection of
Fluvirin or Fluzone.

◯ Vaccination is encouraged for everyone older than
6 months of age.

◯ Clients who have a history of pneumonia, chronic
medical conditions, and those over age 65, pregnant
women, and health care providers are at higher risk
and require vaccination.

● H1N1 vaccine is available for the general population.
● H5N1 vaccine is stockpiled for distribution if a

pandemic occurs.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Respiratory services should be consulted for

respiratory support.
● Community health officials are notified of

influenza outbreaks.
● State and federal public health officials are consulted

for containment and prevention directives during
pandemic influenza.

128 CHAPTER 20 ACUTe resPirATOry disOrders CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CLieNT edUCATiON
● Obtain an annual influenza immunization when

vaccines become available.
● Reduce the risk for spreading viruses by thoroughly

washing hands and following cough etiquette.
● Avoid places where people gather. Avoid close personal

contact (handshaking, kissing, and hugging).
● If flu manifestations develop, increase fluid intake, rest

and stay home from work or school.
● Avoid travel to areas where pandemic influenza

is identified.
● Be aware of public health announcements and activation

of the early warning system by public health officials in
case of pandemic influenza.

COMPLICATIONS
Pneumonia is a complication of influenza and affects older
adults and clients who are debilitated or
immunocompromised.

Pneumonia

ASSESSMENT

eXPeCTed FiNdiNGs
● Anxiety
● Fatigue
● Weakness
● Chest discomfort due to coughing
● Confusion from hypoxia is the most
common manifestation of pneumonia
in older adult clients.

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Fever
● Chills
● Flushed face
● Diaphoresis
● Shortness of breath or
difficulty breathing

● Tachypnea
● Pleuritic chest pain (sharp)
● Sputum production (yellow-tinged)
● Crackles and wheezes
● Coughing
● Dull chest percussion over areas of
consolidation

● Decreased oxygen saturation
levels (expected reference range is
95% to 100%)

● Purulent, blood-tinged or rust-colored
sputum, which may not always
be present

LABOrATOry TesTs
Sputum culture and sensitivity

● Obtain specimen before starting antibiotic therapy.
● Obtain specimen by suctioning if the client is

unable to cough.
● Older adult clients might have a weak cough reflex and

decreased muscle strength. Therefore, older adult clients
can have trouble expectorating, which can lead to difficulty
in breathing and make specimen retrieval more difficult.

CBC: Elevated WBC count (might not be present in older
adult clients)

ABGs: Hypoxemia (decreased PaO2 less than 80 mm Hg)

Blood culture: To rule out organisms in the blood

Electrolytes: To identify manifestations of dehydration
(elevated BUN, hypernatremia)

diAGNOsTiC PrOCedUres

Chest x‑ray
● A chest x-ray will show consolidation (solidification,

density) of lung tissue. (20.1)
● Chest x-ray might not indicate pneumonia for a few

days after manifestations.
● A chest x-ray is an important diagnostic tool because

the early manifestations of pneumonia are often vague
in older adult clients.

Pulse oximetry

Clients who have pneumonia usually have oximetry levels
less than the expected reference range of 95% to 100%.

Online Video: Metered Dose Inhaler

20.1 Pneumonia

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 20 ACUTe resPirATOry disOrders 129

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NUrsiNG CAre
● Position the client to maximize ventilation

(high-Fowler’s = 90%) unless contraindicated.
● Encourage coughing or suction to remove secretions.
● Administer breathing treatments and medications.
● Administer oxygen therapy.
● Monitor for skin breakdown around the nose and mouth

from the oxygen device.
● Encourage deep breathing with an incentive spirometer

to prevent alveolar collapse.
● Determine the client’s physical limitations and

structure activity to include periods of rest.
● Promote adequate nutrition and fluid intake.

◯ The increased work of breathing requires
additional calories.

◯ Proper nutrition aids in the prevention of secondary
respiratory infections.

◯ Encourage fluid intake of 2 to 3 L/day to promote
hydration and thinning of secretions, unless
contraindicated due to another condition.

● Provide rest periods for clients who have dyspnea.
● Reassure the client who is experiencing

respiratory distress.

MediCATiONs

Antibiotics
● Antibiotics are given to destroy infectious pathogens.

Commonly used antibiotics include penicillins
and cephalosporins.

● Antibiotics are often initially given via IV and then
switched to an oral form as the condition improves.

● It is important to obtain any culture specimens prior to
giving the first dose of an antibiotic. Once the specimen
has been obtained, the antibiotics can be given while
waiting for the results of the prescribed culture.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe clients for frequent stools.
● Monitor kidney function, especially for older adults who

are taking penicillins and cephalosporins.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Take penicillins and cephalosporins
with food. Some penicillins should be taken 1 hr before
meals or 2 hr after.

Bronchodilators
● Bronchodilators are given to reduce bronchospasms and

reduce irritation.
● Short-acting beta2 agonists, such as albuterol, provide

rapid relief.
● Cholinergic antagonists (anticholinergic medications),

such as ipratropium, block the parasympathetic nervous
system, allowing for increased bronchodilation and
decreased pulmonary secretions.

● Methylxanthines, such as theophylline, require close
monitoring of blood medication levels due to the narrow
therapeutic range.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor blood medication levels for toxicity for clients

taking theophylline. Adverse effects will include
tachycardia, nausea, and diarrhea.

● Watch for tremors and tachycardia for clients
taking albuterol.

● Observe for dry mouth in clients taking ipratropium, and
monitor heart rate. Adverse effects can include headache,
blurred vision, and palpitations, which can indicate toxicity.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Suck on hard candies to moisten dry mouth while

taking ipratropium.
● Increase fluid intake unless contraindicated.

Anti‑inflammatories
● Anti-inflammatories decrease airway inflammation.
● Glucocorticosteroids, such as fluticasone and prednisone,

are prescribed to reduce inflammation. Monitor for
immunosuppression, fluid retention, hyperglycemia,
hypokalemia, and poor wound healing.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for decreased immunity function.
● Monitor for hyperglycemia.
● Observe for fluid retention and weight gain. This can

be common.
● Monitor the throat and mouth for aphthous lesions

(canker sores).

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Report black, tarry stools.
● Drink plenty of fluids to promote hydration.
● Take glucocorticosteroids with food.
● Avoid discontinuing glucocorticosteroids without

consulting the provider.

iNTerPrOFessiONAL CAre
● Respiratory services should be consulted for

inhalers, breathing treatments, and suctioning for
airway management.

● Nutritional services can be contacted for weight loss or
gain related to medications or diagnosis.

● Rehabilitation care can be consulted if the client
has prolonged weakness and needs assistance with
increasing level of activity.

CLieNT edUCATiON
● It is important to continue medications for treatment of

pneumonia.
● Rest as needed.
● Maintain hand hygiene to prevent infection.
● Avoid crowded areas to reduce the risk of infection.
● Treatment and recovery from pneumonia can take time.
● Obtain immunizations for influenza and pneumonia.
● Discontinue tobacco use if needed.

130 CHAPTER 20 ACUTe resPirATOry disOrders CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

COMPLICATIONS
Atelectasis

● Airway inflammation and edema lead to alveolar
collapse and increase the risk of hypoxemia.

● The client reports shortness of breath and exhibits
findings of hypoxemia.

● The client has diminished or absent breath sounds over
the affected area.

● A chest x-ray shows an area of density.

Bacteremia (sepsis): This occurs if pathogens enter the
bloodstream from the infection in the lungs.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome
● Hypoxemia persists despite oxygen therapy.
● Lung volume capacity and elasticity is reduced.
● Dyspnea worsens as bilateral pulmonary edema

develops that is noncardiac related.
● A chest x-ray shows an area of density with a

ground-glass appearance.
● Blood gas findings demonstrate high arterial blood

levels of carbon dioxide (hypercarbia) even though pulse
oximetry shows decreased saturation.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is monitoring a group of clients for
increased risk for developing pneumonia.
Which of the following clients should the nurse
expect to be at risk? (select all that apply.)

A. Client who has dysphagia

B. Client who has Aids

C. Client who was vaccinated for pneumococcus
and influenza 6 months ago

d. Client who is postoperative and has
received local anesthesia

e. Client who has a closed head injury and
is receiving mechanical ventilation

F. Client who has myasthenia gravis

2. A nurse is caring for a client who, upon
awakening, was disoriented to person, place,
and time. The client reports chills and chest
pain that is worse upon inspiration. Which of
the following actions is the nursing priority?

A. Obtain baseline vital signs and oxygen saturation.

B. Obtain a sputum culture.

C. Obtain a complete history from the client.

d. Provide a pneumococcal vaccine.

3. A nurse is caring for a client who has pneumonia.
Assessment findings include temperature
37.8° C (100° F), respirations 30/min, blood pressure
130/76, heart rate 100/min, and saO2 91% on room
air. Prioritize the following nursing interventions.

A. Administer antibiotics.

B. Administer oxygen therapy.

C. Perform a sputum culture.

d. instruct the client to obtain a yearly
influenza vaccination.

4. A nurse in a clinic is assessing a client who has sinusitis.
Which of the following techniques should the nurse
use to identify manifestations of this disorder?

A. Percussion of posterior lobes of lungs

B. Auscultation of the trachea

C. inspection of the conjunctiva

d. Palpation of the orbital areas

5. A nurse is teaching a group of clients about
influenza. Which of the following client statements
indicates an understanding of the teaching?

A. “i should wash my hands after blowing my
nose to prevent spreading the virus.”

B. “i need to avoid drinking fluids
if i develop symptoms.”

C. “i need a flu shot every 2 years because
of the different flu strains.”

d. “i should cover my mouth with
my hand when i sneeze.”

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse in a clinic is discussing health promotion and disease
management with a client who has rhinitis. What should
the nurse include in this discussion? Use the ATi Active
Learning Template: system disorder to complete this item.

RISK FACTORS: identify three risk factors for rhinitis.

EXPECTED FINDINGS: describe at least four.

CLIENT EDUCATION: describe two client self‑care activities.

MEDICATIONS: identify two over‑the‑counter
medications the client can use.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 20 ACUTe resPirATOry disOrders 131

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

RISK FACTORS
● recent exposure to viral, bacterial or influenza infections
● Lack of current immunization status (pneumonia, influenza)
● exposure to plant pollen, molds, animal dander, foods,
medications, and environmental contaminants

● Tobacco smoke
● substance use (alcohol, cocaine)
● Presence of a foreign body
● inactivity and immobility

EXPECTED FINDINGS
● excessive nasal drainage, runny nose (rhinorrhea), nasal congestion
● Purulent nasal drainage
● sneezing and pruritus of the nose, throat, and ears
● itchy, watery eyes
● sore, dry throat
● red, inflamed, swollen nasal mucosa
● Low‑grade fever

CLIENT EDUCATION
● rest (8 to 10 hr/day), increased fluid intake (at least 2,000 mL/day)
● Use of a home humidifier or breathing steamy
air after running hot shower water

● Proper disposal of tissues and use of cough etiquette

MEDICATIONS: Brompheniramine/pseudoephedrine,
cromolyn sodium, phenylephrine, antipyretics

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: The client who has difficulty swallowing is at
increased risk for pneumonia due to aspiration.

B. CORRECT: The client who has Aids is
immunocompromised, which increases the risk of
opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia.

C. The client who has recently been vaccinated in the past
few months has a decreased risk to acquire pneumonia.

d. A client who is postoperative and has received local
anesthesia has a decreased risk to acquire pneumonia.

e. CORRECT: Mechanical ventilation is invasive and places
the client at risk for ventilator‑associated pneumonia.

F. CORRECT: A client who has myasthenia gravis has
generalized weakness and can have difficulty clearing airway
secretions, which increases the risk of pneumonia.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

2. A. CORRECT: The first action the nurse should take
using the nursing process is to assess the client in
order to determine the next nursing intervention
and provide safe and effective client care.

B. The nurse should obtain a sputum culture to determine
sensitivity for antibiotic therapy. However, there is
another action the nurse should take first.

C. The nurse should obtain a complete history from the
client to determine the plan of care. However, there
is another action the nurse should take first.

d. The nurse should provide for a pneumococcal vaccination
to decrease the risk of pneumonia in the future. However,
there is another action the nurse should take first.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

3. Correct order
B. The client’s respiratory and heart rates are elevated, and her

oxygen saturation is 91% on room air. Using the ABC priority
framework, providing oxygen is the first intervention.

C. Obtaining a sputum culture is the second nursing
intervention. it should be done prior to administering
oral medications to obtain an accurate specimen.

A. Administration of antibiotics is the third action the
nurse should take. The sputum culture should be
obtained prior to antibiotic administration.

d. The last action the nurse should take is to instruct the client
to receive yearly influenza vaccinations, to reduce the risk
of acquiring influenza that can lead to pneumonia.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

4. A. Lung percussion is used to assess a client
who has pneumonia.

B. Auscultation of the trachea is used to assess
a client who has bronchitis.

C. inspection of the conjunctiva is used to
assess a client who has anemia.

d. CORRECT: A client who has sinusitis will report tenderness
when the orbital, frontal, and facial areas are palpated.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

5. A. CORRECT: Hand hygiene decreases the risk of
the client spreading influenza viruses.

B. The client should increase fluid intake to loosen mucous,
promote expectoration, and maintain hydration.

C. The client should receive an influenza vaccination
yearly to reduce the risk for acquiring influenza.

d. The client should sneeze into the shoulder or
elbow, rather than the hands, to reduce the
risk of spreading the influenza virus..

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

132 CHAPTER 20 ACUTe resPirATOry disOrders CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 21 AsthmA 133

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: RESPIRATORY SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 21 Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disorder of the airways
that results in intermittent and reversible
airflow obstruction of the bronchioles. the
obstruction occurs either by inflammation
or airway hyperresponsiveness. Asthma can
occur at any age. the cause is unknown.
manifestations of asthma include mucosal
edema, bronchoconstriction, and excessive
mucus production.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● If the client smokes, promote smoking cessation.
● Advise the client to use protective equipment (mask)

and ensure proper ventilation while working in
environments that contain carcinogens or particles
in the air.

● Encourage influenza and pneumonia vaccinations for
older adults and all clients who have asthma.

● Instruct the client how to recognize and avoid
triggering agents.

◯ Environmental factors, such as changes in
temperature (especially warm to cold) and humidity

◯ Air pollutants
◯ Strong odors (perfume)
◯ Seasonal allergens (grass, tree, and weed pollens) and

perennial allergens (mold, feathers, dust, roaches,
animal dander, foods treated with sulfites)

◯ Stress and emotional distress
◯ Medications (aspirin, NSAIDs, beta‑blockers,
cholinergics)

◯ Enzymes, including those in laundry detergents
◯ Chemicals (household cleaners)
◯ Sinusitis with postnasal drip
◯ Viral respiratory tract infection

● Teach the client how to self‑administer medications
(nebulizers and inhalers).

● Educate the client regarding infection
prevention techniques.

● Encourage regular exercise as part of asthma therapy.
◯ Promotes ventilation and perfusion.
◯ Maintains cardiac health.
◯ Enhances skeletal muscle strength.
◯ Clients can require premedication.

● Instruct the client to use hot water to eliminate dust
mites in bed linens.

ASSESSMENT
Diagnosis is based on findings and classified into one of
the following four categories.

● Mild intermittent: Symptoms occur less than
twice a week.

● Mild persistent: Symptoms arise more than twice a
week but not daily.

● Moderate persistent: Daily symptoms occur in
conjunction with exacerbations twice a week.

● Severe persistent: Symptoms occur continually, along
with frequent exacerbations that limit physical activity
and quality of life.

RIsK FACtORs
● Older adult clients have decreased pulmonary reserves

due to physiologic lung changes that occur with the
aging process.

◯ Older adult clients are more susceptible to infections.
◯ The sensitivity of beta‑adrenergic receptors
decreases with age. As the beta receptors age and
lose sensitivity, they are less able to respond to
agonists, which relax smooth muscle and can result
in bronchospasms.

● Family history of asthma
● Smoking
● Secondhand smoke exposure
● Environmental allergies
● Exposure to chemical irritants or dust
● Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Dyspnea
● Chest tightness
● Anxiety or stress

CHAPTER 21

Online Image: Normal and Asthmatic Lung Changes

21.1 Normal and asthmatic bronchioles

134 CHAPTER 21 AsthmA CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Coughing
● Wheezing
● Mucus production
● Use of accessory muscles
● Prolonged exhalation
● Poor oxygen saturation (low SaO2)
● Barrel chest or increased chest diameter

Obtain history regarding current and previous asthma
exacerbations.

● Onset and duration
● Precipitating factors (stress, exercise, exposure

to irritant)
● Changes in medication regimen
● Medications that provide relief
● Other medications taken
● Self‑care methods used to promote relief

LABORAtORY tEsts

Arterial blood gases

Hypoxemia (decreased PaO2 less than 80 mm Hg)

Hypocarbia (decreased PaCO2 less than 35 mm Hg: early
in attack)

Hypercarbia (increased PaCO2 greater than 45 mm Hg:
later in attack)

Sputum cultures

Bacteria can indicate infection.

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs
● Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are the most accurate

tests for diagnosing asthma and its severity.
◯ Forced vital capacity (FVC) is the volume of air
exhaled from full inhalation to full exhalation.

◯ Forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1)
is the volume of air blown out as hard and fast as
possible during the first second of the most forceful
exhalation after the greatest full inhalation.

◯ Peak expiratory flow is the fastest airflow rate
reached during exhalation.

◯ A decrease in FEV1 by 15% to 20% below the expected
value is common in clients who have asthma. An
increase in these values by 12% following the
administration of bronchodilators is diagnostic
for asthma.

● A chest x‑ray is used to diagnose changes in chest
structure over time.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Position the client to maximize ventilation

(high‑Fowler’s).
● Administer oxygen therapy as prescribed.
● Monitor cardiac rate and rhythm for changes during an

acute attack (can be irregular, tachycardic, or with PVCs).
● Monitor respiratory rate and rhythm for changes in

effort, symmetry, SaO2; auscultate lung sounds.
● Initiate and maintain IV access.
● Remain calm and reassuring.
● Provide rest periods for older adult clients who have

dyspnea. Design room and walkways with opportunities
for rest. Incorporate rest into ADLs.

● Encourage prompt medical attention for infections and
appropriate immunizations.

● Administer medications as prescribed.

mEDICAtIONs

Bronchodilators (inhalers)
● Short‑acting beta2 agonists, such as albuterol, provide

rapid relief of acute manifestations and prevent
exercise‑induced asthma.

● Anticholinergic medications, such as ipratropium, block
the parasympathetic nervous system. This allows for
the sympathetic nervous system effects of increased
bronchodilation and decreased pulmonary secretions.
These medications are long‑acting and used to
prevent bronchospasms.

● Methylxanthines, such as theophylline, require close
monitoring of blood medication levels due to a narrow
therapeutic range. Use only when other treatments
are ineffective.

● Long‑acting beta2 agonists, such as salmeterol,
primarily are used for asthma attack prevention.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Albuterol: Watch for tremors and tachycardia.
● Ipratropium: Observe for dry mouth.
● Theophylline: Monitor blood levels for toxicity. Adverse

effects include tachycardia, nausea, and diarrhea.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Ipratropium: Suck on hard candies to help relieve dry

mouth; increase fluid intake; and report headache,
blurred vision, or palpitations, which can indicate
toxicity of ipratropium. Monitor heart rate.

● Salmeterol: Use to prevent an asthma attack and not at
the onset of an attack.

Anti‑inflammatory agents

These medications are for prophylaxis and are used to
decrease airway inflammation.

● Corticosteroids, such as fluticasone and prednisone
● Leukotriene antagonists, such as montelukast
● Mast cell stabilizers, such as cromolyn
● Monoclonal antibodies, such as omalizumab

Online Animation: Metered‑Dose Inhaler

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 21 AsthmA 135

NURSING ACTIONS
● Watch for decreased immunity function and

wound healing.
● Monitor for hyperglycemia.
● Observe for fluid retention and weight gain. This can

be common.
● Monitor the throat and mouth for aphthous lesions

(canker sores).
● Omalizumab can cause anaphylaxis.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Report black, tarry stools.
● Drink plenty of fluids to promote hydration.
● Take prednisone with food.
● Use these medications to prevent asthma, not for the

onset of an attack.
● Avoid people who have respiratory infections.
● Use good mouth care and hand washing regimen.
● Do not discontinue medication suddenly.
● Perform daily peak flow meter assessments. If only able

to achieve a reading in the red zone, immediately use
the reliever medications and seek emergency care.

Combination agents (bronchodilator
and anti‑inflammatory)

If prescribed separately for inhalation administration at
the same time, administer the bronchodilator first in order
to increase the absorption of the anti‑inflammatory agent.

● Ipratropium and albuterol
● Fluticasone and salmeterol

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
● Respiratory services should be consulted for inhalers

and breathing treatments for airway management.
● Nutritional services can be contacted for weight loss or

gain related to medications or diagnosis.
● Rehabilitation care can be consulted if the client

has prolonged weakness and needs assistance with
increasing level of activity.

COMPLICATIONS

Respiratory failure

Persistent hypoxemia related to asthma can lead to
respiratory failure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor oxygenation levels and acid‑base balance.
● Prepare for intubation and mechanical ventilation.

Status asthmaticus

This is a life‑threatening episode of airway obstruction
that is often unresponsive to common treatment. It
involves extreme wheezing, labored breathing, use of
accessory muscles, distended neck veins, and creates a
risk for cardiac and/or respiratory arrest.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prepare for emergency intubation.
● Administer IV fluids, oxygen, bronchodilators, and

epinephrine. Initiate systemic steroid therapy.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is caring for a client who has asthma and a
prescription for prednisone. Use the AtI Active Learning
template: medication to complete this item.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: Include at least three.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse in the emergency department is caring for
a client who is experiencing an acute asthma attack.
Which of the following assessments indicates that the
respiratory status is declining? (select all that apply.)

A. saO2 95%
B. Wheezing
C. Retraction of sternal muscles
D. Pink mucous membranes
E. tachycardia

2. A nurse is caring for a client 2 hr after admission.
the client has an saO2 of 91%, exhibits audible
wheezes, and is using accessory muscles when
breathing. Which of the following classes of
medications should the nurse expect to administer?

A. Antibiotic
B. Beta‑blocker
C. Antiviral
D. Beta2 agonist

3. A nurse is providing discharge teaching to a
client who has a new prescription for prednisone
for asthma. Which of the following client
statements indicates understanding?

A. “I will decrease my fluid intake while
taking this medication.”

B. “I will expect to have black, tarry stools.”

C. “I will take my medication with meals.”

D. “I will monitor for weight loss
while on this medication.”

4. A nurse is assessing a client who has a history of
asthma. Which of the following factors should
the nurse identify as a risk for asthma?

A. sex
B. Environmental allergies
C. Alcohol use
D. history of diabetes

5. A nurse is reinforcing teaching with a client on the
purpose of taking a bronchodilator. Which of the
following client statements indicates understanding?

A. “this medication can decrease
my immune response.”

B. “I take this medication to prevent asthma attacks.”

C. “I need to take this medication with food.”

D. “this medication has a slow onset
to treat my symptoms.”

136 CHAPTER 21 AsthmA CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. Oxygen saturation 95% is an expected finding and does
not indicate the client’s condition is declining.

B. CORRECT: Wheezing indicates airway narrowing
and is a manifestation indicating the client’s
respiratory status is declining.

C. CORRECT: Retraction of sternal muscles is associated
with increased work of breathing and is a manifestation
that the client’s respiratory status is declining.

D. Pink mucous membranes is an expected finding and
does not indicate the client’s condition is declining.

E. CORRECT: tachycardia can be a manifestation
of decreased oxygenation and an indicator that
the client’s respiratory status is declining.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

2. A. An antibiotic typically is given for a bacterial infection.
B. A beta‑blocker typically is given for dysrhythmias,

heart disease, or hypertension.
C. An antiviral typically is given for a virus.
D. CORRECT: Administer a beta2 agonist, which causes dilation

of the bronchioles to relieve wheezing and open the airways.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

3. A. the client should drink plenty of fluids while taking
prednisone. this medication can cause the client to
have a dry mouth or to become thirsty.

B. the client should inform the provider of any black, tarry
stools. this medication can increase bleeding tendency.
Black stools can be an indication of blood in the stool.

C. CORRECT: the client should take this medication
with food. taking prednisone on an empty stomach
can cause gastrointestinal distress.

D. the client should monitor the mouth for canker sores. this
medication can cause bleeding of the gums and soreness
in the mouth. It also decreases immune function.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

4. A. sex is not a risk factor associated with asthma.
B. CORRECT: Environmental allergies are a risk factor associated

with asthma. A client who has environmental allergies typically
has other allergic problems, such as rhinitis or a skin rash.

C. Alcohol use is not a risk factor associated with asthma.
D. A history of diabetes is not a risk factor

associate with asthma.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

5. A. A bronchodilator does not decrease the body’s
immune response. however, an anti‑inflammatory
medication can cause this effect.

B. CORRECT: A bronchodilator can prevent
asthma attacks from occurring.

C. An oral bronchodilator does not need to be
taken with food. however, an anti‑inflammatory
medication can cause gastrointestinal distress
and needs to be to be given with food.

D. A bronchodilator has a fast onset to relieve the
manifestations associated with an asthma attack.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Medication

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● Watch for decreased immune function.
● monitor for hyperglycemia.
● Advise the client to report black, tarry stools.
● Observe for fluid retention and weight gain.
● monitor the throat and mouth for aphthous lesions (canker sores).

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 22 ChRONIC OBstRUCtIvE PULmONARY DIsEAsE 137

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: RESPIRATORY SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 22 Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
encompasses two diseases: emphysema and
chronic bronchitis. most clients who have
emphysema also have chronic bronchitis. COPD
is irreversible.

Emphysema is characterized by the loss of
lung elasticity and hyperinflation of lung
tissue. Emphysema causes destruction of the
alveoli, leading to a decreased surface area for
gas exchange, carbon dioxide retention, and
respiratory acidosis.

Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of
the bronchi and bronchioles due to chronic
exposure to irritants.

COPD typically affects middle‑age to
older adults.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Promote smoking cessation.
● Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
● Use protective equipment, such as a mask, and ensure
proper ventilation while working in environments that
contain carcinogens or particles in the air.

● Influenza and pneumonia immunizations are
important for all clients who have COPD, but especially
for older adults.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
● Advanced age: Older adult clients have a decreased
pulmonary reserve due to age‑related lung changes.

● Cigarette smoking is the primary risk factor for the
development of COPD.

● Alpha1‑antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency
● Exposure to environmental factors (air pollution)

EXPECtED FINDINGs
Chronic dyspnea. The respiratory rate can reach
40 to 50/min during acute exacerbations.

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Dyspnea upon exertion
● Productive cough that is most severe upon rising in

the morning
● Hypoxemia
● Crackles and wheezes
● Rapid and shallow respirations
● Use of accessory muscles
● Barrel chest or increased chest diameter

(with emphysema) (22.1)
● Hyperresonance on percussion due to “trapped air”

(with emphysema)
● Irregular breathing pattern
● Thin extremities and enlarged neck muscles
● Dependent edema secondary to right‑sided heart failure
● Clubbing of fingers and toes (late stages of the disease)
● Pallor and cyanosis of nail beds and mucous membranes

(late stages of the disease)
● Decreased oxygen saturation levels (expected reference

range is 95% to 100%)
● In older adults or clients who have dark‑colored skin,

oxygen saturation levels can be slightly lower.

CHAPTER 22

Online Image: COPD

22.1 Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

138 CHAPTER 22 ChRONIC OBstRUCtIvE PULmONARY DIsEAsE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

LABORAtORY tEsts
● Increased hematocrit level is due to low oxygenation levels.
● Use sputum cultures and WBC counts to diagnose acute

respiratory infections.
● Arterial blood gases (ABGs)

◯ Hypoxemia (decreased PaO2 less than 80 mm Hg)
◯ Hypercarbia (increased PaCO2 greater than 45 mm Hg)

● Blood electrolytes

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Pulmonary function tests

These tests are used for diagnosis, as well as determining
the effectiveness of therapy.

● Comparisons of forced expiratory volume (FEV) to
forced vital capacity (FVC) are used to classify COPD as
mild to very severe.

● As COPD advances, the FEV‑to‑FVC ratio decreases. The
expected reference range is 100%. For mild COPD, the
FEV/FVC ratio is decreased to less than 70%. As the
disease progresses to moderate and severe, the ratio
decreases to less than 50%.

Chest x‑ray
● Reveals hyperinflation of alveoli and flattened

diaphragm in the late stages of emphysema. (22.2)
● It is often not useful for the diagnosis of early or

moderate disease.

Alpha1 antitrypsin levels

Used to assess for deficiency in AAT, an enzyme produced
by the liver that helps regulate other enzymes (which help
break down pollutants) from attacking lung tissue.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Position the client to maximize ventilation

(high‑Fowler’s).
● Encourage effective coughing, or suction to

remove secretions.
● Encourage deep breathing and use of an

incentive spirometer.
● Administer breathing treatments and medications.
● Administer oxygen as prescribed. In COPD, low

arterial levels of oxygen serve as the primary drive for
breathing. However, in most cases, oxygen levels should
be maintained between 88% and 92%.

● Clients who have COPD can need 2 to 4 L/min of oxygen
via nasal cannula or up to 40% via Venturi mask. Clients
who have chronically increased PaCO2 levels usually
require 1 to 2 L/min of oxygen via nasal cannula.

● Monitor for skin breakdown around the nose and mouth
from the oxygen device.

● Promote adequate nutrition.
◯ Increased work of breathing increases caloric demands.
◯ Proper nutrition aids in the prevention of infection.
◯ Encourage fluids to promote adequate hydration.
◯ Dyspnea decreases energy available for eating, so soft,

high‑calorie foods should be encouraged.
● Monitor weight and note any changes.
● Instruct the client to practice breathing techniques to

control dyspneic episodes.
◯ For diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing, instruct the
client to:

■ Take breaths deep from the diaphragm.
■ Lie on back with knees bent.
■ Rest a hand over the abdomen to create resistance.
■ If the client’s hand rises and lowers upon
inhalation and exhalation, the breathing is being
performed correctly.

◯ For pursed‑lip breathing, instruct the client to:
■ Form the mouth as if preparing to whistle.
■ Take a breath in through the nose and out through

the lips/mouth.
■ Not puff the cheeks.
■ Take breaths deep and slow.

● Positive expiratory pressure device
◯ Assists client to remove airway secretions.
◯ Client inhales deeply and exhales through device.
◯ While exhaling, a ball inside the device moves, causing
a vibration that results in loosening secretions.

● Exercise conditioning
◯ Includes improving pulmonary status by
strengthening the condition of the lungs by exercise.

◯ The client walks daily at a self‑paced rate until
dyspnea occurs, then stops to rest. Once dyspnea
resolves, the client resumes.

◯ The client walks 20 min daily 2 to 3 times weekly.
◯ Determine the client’s physical limitations, and
structure activity to include periods of rest.

◯ Provide rest periods for older adult clients who have
dyspnea. Design the room and walkways with
opportunities for relaxation.

● Provide support to the client and family. Talk about
disease and lifestyle changes, including home care
services such as portable oxygen.

● Increase fluid intake. Encourage the client to drink 2 to
3 L/day to liquefy mucus.

Incentive spirometry

Incentive spirometry is used to monitor optimal
lung expansion.

NURSING ACTIONS: Show the client how to use the
incentive spirometry machine.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Keep a tight mouth seal around the
mouthpiece and inhale and hold breath for 3 to 5 seconds.
During inhalation, the needle of the spirometry machine
will rise. This promotes lung expansion.

Online Image: X‑ray of Lungs with Emphysema

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 22 ChRONIC OBstRUCtIvE PULmONARY DIsEAsE 139

mEDICAtIONs

Bronchodilators (inhalers)

Short‑acting beta2 agonists , such as albuterol, provide
rapid relief.

Cholinergic antagonists (anticholinergic medications) ,
such as ipratropium, block the parasympathetic nervous
system. This allows for the sympathetic nervous system
effects of increased bronchodilation and decreased
pulmonary secretions. These medications are long‑acting
and are used to prevent bronchospasms.

Methylxanthines , such as theophylline, relax smooth
muscles of the bronchi. These medications require close
monitoring of blood medication levels due to narrow
therapeutic ranges. Use only when other treatments are
ineffective.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for toxicity when taking theophylline. Adverse

effects include tachycardia, nausea, and diarrhea.
● Watch for tremors and tachycardia when taking albuterol.
● Observe for dry mouth when taking ipratropium.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Suck on hard candies to help moisten dry mouth while

taking ipratropium.
● Increase fluid intake, report headaches, or blurred vision.
● Monitor heart rate. Palpitations can occur, which can

indicate toxicity of ipratropium.

Anti‑inflammatory agents

These medications decrease airway inflammation.
● If corticosteroids, such as fluticasone and prednisone,

are given systemically, monitor for serious adverse
effects (immunosuppression, fluid retention,
hyperglycemia, hypokalemia, poor wound healing).

● Leukotriene antagonists, such as montelukast; mast
cell stabilizers, such as cromolyn; and monoclonal
antibodies, such as omalizumab, can be used.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Watch for a decrease in immunity function.
● Monitor for delayed wound healing.
● Monitor for hyperglycemia.
● Observe for fluid retention and weight gain. This

is common.
● Check the throat and mouth for aphthous lesions

(canker sores).
● Omalizumab can cause anaphylaxis.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Drink plenty of fluids to promote hydration.
● Report black, tarry stools.
● Take glucocorticoids with food.
● Use medication to prevent and control bronchospasms.
● Avoid people who have respiratory infections.
● Use good mouth care.
● Use medication as a prophylactic prevention of

COPD manifestations.
● Do not discontinue medication suddenly.

Mucolytic agents

These agents help thin secretions, making them easier for
the client to expel.

● Nebulizer treatments include acetylcysteine and
dornase alfa.

● Guaifenesin is an oral agent that can be taken.
● A combination of guaifenesin and dextromethorphan

also can be taken orally to loosen secretions.

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs
● Chest physiotherapy uses percussion and vibration to

mobilize secretions.
● Raising the foot of the bed slightly higher than the

head can facilitate optimal drainage and removal of
secretions by gravity.

● Humidifiers can be useful for who live in a dry climate
or who use dry heat during the winter.

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
● Consult respiratory services for inhalers, breathing

treatments, and suctioning for airway management.
● Contact nutritional services for weight loss or gain

related to medications or diagnosis.
● Consult rehabilitative care if the client has prolonged

weakness and needs assistance with increasing
activity level.

● COPD is debilitating for older adult clients. Management of
the disease is continuous. Referrals to assistance programs,
such as food delivery services, can be indicated.

● Set up referral services, including home care services
such as portable oxygen.

● Provide support to the client and family.

22.2 X‑ray of lungs with emphysema
LABORAtORY tEsts

● Increased hematocrit level is due to low oxygenation levels.
● Use sputum cultures and WBC counts to diagnose acute

respiratory infections.
● Arterial blood gases (ABGs)

◯ Hypoxemia (decreased PaO2 less than 80 mm Hg)
◯ Hypercarbia (increased PaCO2 greater than 45 mm Hg)

● Blood electrolytes

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Pulmonary function tests

These tests are used for diagnosis, as well as determining
the effectiveness of therapy.

● Comparisons of forced expiratory volume (FEV) to
forced vital capacity (FVC) are used to classify COPD as
mild to very severe.

● As COPD advances, the FEV‑to‑FVC ratio decreases. The
expected reference range is 100%. For mild COPD, the
FEV/FVC ratio is decreased to less than 70%. As the
disease progresses to moderate and severe, the ratio
decreases to less than 50%.

Chest x‑ray
● Reveals hyperinflation of alveoli and flattened

diaphragm in the late stages of emphysema. (22.2)
● It is often not useful for the diagnosis of early or

moderate disease.

Alpha1 antitrypsin levels

Used to assess for deficiency in AAT, an enzyme produced
by the liver that helps regulate other enzymes (which help
break down pollutants) from attacking lung tissue.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Position the client to maximize ventilation

(high‑Fowler’s).
● Encourage effective coughing, or suction to

remove secretions.
● Encourage deep breathing and use of an

incentive spirometer.
● Administer breathing treatments and medications.
● Administer oxygen as prescribed. In COPD, low

arterial levels of oxygen serve as the primary drive for
breathing. However, in most cases, oxygen levels should
be maintained between 88% and 92%.

● Clients who have COPD can need 2 to 4 L/min of oxygen
via nasal cannula or up to 40% via Venturi mask. Clients
who have chronically increased PaCO2 levels usually
require 1 to 2 L/min of oxygen via nasal cannula.

● Monitor for skin breakdown around the nose and mouth
from the oxygen device.

Online Image: X‑ray of Lungs with Emphysema

140 CHAPTER 22 ChRONIC OBstRUCtIvE PULmONARY DIsEAsE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CLIENt EDUCAtION
● Eat high‑calorie foods to promote energy.
● Rest as needed.
● Practice hand hygiene to prevent infection.
● Take medications (inhalers, oral medications) as prescribed.
● Stop smoking if needed.
● Obtain immunizations, such as influenza and

pneumonia, to decrease the risk of infection.
● Use oxygen as prescribed. Inform other caregivers not to

smoke around the oxygen due to flammability.
● Acute infections and other complications often require

hospital stays. Report unusual findings or concerns to
the provider.

● Ensure fluid intake of at least 2 L (68 oz) daily to thin
secretions, unless the provider recommends otherwise.

COMPLICATIONS

Respiratory infection

Respiratory infections result from increased mucus
production and poor oxygenation levels.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer oxygen therapy.
● Monitor oxygenation levels.
● Monitor for indications of infection (increased WBC, CRP,

decreased SaO2, change in temperature).
● Administer antibiotics and other medications.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Avoid crowds and people who have respiratory infections.
● Obtain pneumonia and influenza immunizations.

Right‑sided heart failure (cor pulmonale)
● Air trapping, airway collapse, and stiff alveoli lead to

increased pulmonary pressures.
● Blood flow through the lung tissue is difficult. This

increased workload leads to enlargement and thickening
of the right atrium and ventricle.

MANIFESTATIONS
● Low oxygenation levels
● Cyanosis
● Enlarged and tender liver
● Distended neck veins
● Dependent edema

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor respiratory status and administer oxygen therapy.
● Monitor for GI disturbances (nausea, anorexia).
● Monitor heart rate and rhythm.
● Administer medications as prescribed.
● Administer IV fluids and diuretics to maintain fluid balance.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is reviewing discharge instructions for a client who
has a new prescription for ipratropium. Use the AtI Active
Learning template: medication to complete this item.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: List at least three.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is providing discharge teaching to a client
who has COPD and a new prescription for albuterol.
Which of the following statements by the client
indicates an understanding of the teaching?

A. “this medication can increase
my blood sugar levels.”

B. “this medication can decrease
my immune response.”

C. “I can have an increase in my heart rate
while taking this medication.”

D. “I can have mouth sores while
taking this medication.”

2. A nurse is preparing to administer an initial dose of
prednisone to a client who has COPD. the nurse
should monitor for which of the following adverse
effects of this medication? (select all that apply.)

A. hypokalemia

B. tachycardia

C. Fluid retention

D. Nausea

E. Black, tarry stools

3. A nurse is discharging a client who has COPD.
the client is concerned about not being able
to leave the house due to the need for staying
on continuous oxygen. Which of the following
responses should the nurse make?

A. “there are portable oxygen delivery
systems that you can take with you.”

B. “When you go out, you can remove the oxygen
and then reapply it when you get home.”

C. “You probably will not be able to go
out as much as you used to.”

D. “home health services will come to you
so you will not need to get out.”

4. A nurse is instructing a client on the use of an incentive
spirometer. Which of the following statements by the
client indicates an understanding of the teaching?

A. “I will place the adapter on my finger to
read my blood oxygen saturation level.”

B. “I will lie on my back with my knees bent.”

C. “I will rest my hand over my abdomen
to create resistance.”

D. “I will take in a deep breath and
hold it before exhaling.”

5. A nurse is planning to instruct a client on how
to perform pursed‑lip breathing. Which of the
following statements should the nurse include?

A. “take quick breaths upon inhalation.”

B. “Place your hand over your stomach.”

C. “take a deep breath in through your nose.”

D. “Puff your cheeks upon exhalation.”

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 22 ChRONIC OBstRUCtIvE PULmONARY DIsEAsE 141

Application Exercises Key

1. A. Anti‑inflammatory agents, such as corticosteroids,
can cause hyperglycemia.

B. Anti‑inflammatory agents can decrease
the immune response.

C. CORRECT: Bronchodilators, such as
albuterol, can cause tachycardia.

D. Anti‑inflammatory agents can cause mouth sores.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

2. A. CORRECT: Observe for hypokalemia. this is
an adverse effect of prednisone.

B. tachycardia is an adverse effect of a bronchodilator.
C. CORRECT: Observe for fluid retention. this

is an adverse effect of prednisone.
D. Nausea is an adverse effect of a bronchodilator.
E. CORRECT: monitor for black, tarry stools. this

is an adverse effect of prednisone.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Expected Actions/Outcomes

3. A. CORRECT: Inform the client that there are portable
oxygen systems that can be used to leave the house.
this should alleviate the client’s anxiety.

B. tell the client to use oxygen at all times
to prevent becoming hypoxic.

C. Encourage the client to return to a daily
routine, but include periods of rest.

D. Encourage the client to return to a daily routine. home
health services promote a client’s independence.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

4. A. the client should place an adapter on a finger
to read the blood oxygen saturation level while
performing a pulse oximetry reading.

B. the client who practices diaphragmatic or abdominal
breathing should lie supine with knees bent.

C. the client who practices diaphragmatic or abdominal
breathing should rest a hand over the abdomen to
determine if the breathing is done correctly.

D. CORRECT: the client who is using the spirometer
should take in as deep a breath as possible before
exhaling. As the client exhales, the needle of the
spirometer rises. this promotes lung expansion.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Diagnostic Tests

5. A. the client should take a slow deep breath upon inhalation.
this improves breathing and allows oxygen into lungs.

B. the client should place a hand on the stomach while
performing diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing.
this allows resistance to be met and serves as a guide
that the client is inhaling and exhaling correctly.

C. CORRECT: the client should take a deep breath
in through the nose while performing pursed‑lip
breathing. this controls the client’s breathing.

D. the client should not puff their cheeks upon
exhalation. this does not allow the client to optimally
exhale the carbon dioxide from the lungs.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using ATI Active Learning Template: Medication

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● Observe the client for dry mouth when taking this medication.
● Encourage the client to suck on hard candies to help
moisten dry mouth while taking ipratropium.

● Encourage the client to increase fluid intake, and
to report headaches or blurred vision.

● monitor heart rate. Palpitations can occur, which
can indicate toxicity of ipratropium.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

142 CHAPTER 22 ChRONIC OBstRUCtIvE PULmONARY DIsEAsE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 23 tUBERCULOsIs 143

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: RESPIRATORY SYSTEM DISORDERS

CHAPTER 23 Tuberculosis
tuberculosis (tB) is an infectious disease
caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
tB is transmitted through aerosolization
(airborne route).

Once inside the lung, the body encases the
tB bacillus with collagen and other cells. this
can appear as a round nodule or tubercle on a
chest x‑ray.

Only a small percentage of people infected
with tB actually develop an active form of the
infection. the tB bacillus can lie dormant for
many years before producing the disease.

tB primarily affects the lungs but can
spread to any organ in the blood. the risk of
transmission decreases after 2 to 3 weeks of
antituberculin therapy.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Clients who live in high‑risk areas for tuberculosis
should be screened on a yearly basis.

● Family members of clients who have tuberculosis should
be screened.

● Screening is particularly important for people born
outside the U.S. and migrant workers.

● Early detection and treatment are vital. TB has a slow
onset, and the client might not be aware until the
disease is advanced. TB diagnosis should be considered
for any client who has a persistent cough, chest pain,
weakness, weight loss, anorexia, hemoptysis, dyspnea,
fever, night sweats, or chills.

● National and global health goals for tuberculosis include
increasing the percentage of clients who complete
treatment for TB.

● Individuals who have been exposed to TB but have not
developed the disease can have latent TB. This means
that Mycobacterium tuberculosis is in the body, but the
body has been able to fight off the infection. If not
treated, it can lie dormant for several years and then
become active as the individual becomes older or
immunocompromised.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
● Frequent and close contact with an untreated individual
● Lower socioeconomic status and homelessness
● Immunocompromised status (HIV, chemotherapy,

kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, Crohn’s disease)
● Poorly ventilated, crowded environments (correctional

or long‑term care facilities)
● Advanced age
● Recent travel outside of the United States to areas where

TB is endemic
● Immigration (especially from Mexico,

Philippines, Vietnam, China, Japan, and Eastern
Mediterranean countries)

● Substance use
● Health care occupation that involves performance of

high‑risk activities (respiratory treatments, suctioning,
coughing procedures)

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Persistent cough lasting longer than 3 weeks
● Purulent sputum, possibly blood‑streaked
● Fatigue and lethargy
● Weight loss and anorexia
● Night sweats and low‑grade fever in the afternoon

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS: Older adult clients
often present with atypical findings of the disease (altered
mentation or unusual behavior, fever, anorexia,
weight loss).

LABORAtORY tEsts

Nucleic acid amplification testing
● Detects the presence of M. tuberculosis in respiratory

secretions and can check for rifampin resistance.
Results are available in less than 2 hr.

● The most rapid and accurate screening test for TB.

QuantiFERON‑TB Gold

Blood test that detects release of
interferon‑gamma (IFN‑g) in fresh heparinized whole
blood from sensitized people.

● Diagnostic for infection, whether active or latent.
● Results are available within 24 hr.

Acid‑fast bacilli smear and culture
● A positive acid‑fast test suggests an active infection.
● The diagnosis is confirmed by a positive culture for

Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Obtain three early‑morning sputum samples.
● Wear personal protective equipment when

obtaining specimens.
● Samples should also be obtained in a negative

airflow room.

CHAPTER 23

144 CHAPTER 23 tUBERCULOsIs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Mantoux test (23.1)

● A client will have a positive intradermal TB test within
2 to 10 weeks of exposure to the infection.

● An intradermal injection of an extract of the tubercle
bacillus is made. It should be read in 48 to 72 hr.

● An induration (palpable, raised, hardened area) of
10 mm or greater in diameter indicates a positive
skin test.

● An induration of 5 mm is considered a positive test for
immunocompromised clients.

● A positive Mantoux test can indicate that the client
has developed an immune response to TB. It does not
confirm that active disease is present.

● Clients who have had a positive Mantoux test or have
received a Bacillus Calmette‑Guerin vaccine within the
past 10 years can have a false‑positive Mantoux test.
These clients need a chest x‑ray or QuantiFERON‑TB
Gold test to evaluate the presence of active TB
infection.

● Clients experiencing immunocompromise can
demonstrate anergy, or lack of response to Mantoux
testing, even if M. tuberculosis is present in the body. In
this case, other diagnostic testing is indicated to rule
out infection.

● Individuals who have latent TB can have a positive
Mantoux test and can receive treatment to prevent
development of an active form of the disease.

● Clients who are immunocompromised (such as those
who have HIV) and older adult clients should be tested
for TB. Clients starting immunosuppressive therapy
(such as tumor necrosis factor antagonists) should be
tested for TB prior to starting treatment.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Return for a reading of the injection
site by a health care personnel between 48 and 72 hr.

Chest x‑ray

Can be prescribed to detect active lesions in the lungs.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Administer heated and humidified oxygen therapy

as prescribed.
● Prevent infection transmission.

◯ Wear a N95 HEPA filter or powered air purifying
respirator when caring for clients who are
hospitalized with TB. (23.2)

◯ Place the client in a negative‑airflow room, and
implement airborne precautions.

◯ Use barrier protection when the risk of hand or
clothing contamination exists.

◯ Have the client wear a surgical mask if transportation
to another department is necessary. The client should
be transported using the shortest and least busy route.

◯ Teach the client to cough and expectorate sputum
into tissues that are disposed of by the client into
provided plastic bags or no‑touch receptacles.

● Administer prescribed medications.
● Promote adequate nutrition.

◯ Encourage fluid intake and a well‑balanced diet for
adequate caloric intake.

◯ Encourage foods that are rich in protein, iron, and
vitamins C and B.

● Provide emotional support.

Online Image: Positive Mantoux Test

23.2 N95 mask23.1 Mantoux test

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 23 tUBERCULOsIs 145

mEDICAtIONs
Due to the resistance that is developing against the
antituberculin medications, combination therapy of two or
more medications at a time is recommended.

● Because these medications must be taken for 6 to
12 months, medication noncompliance is a significant
contributing factor in the development of resistant
strains of TB.

● The typical four‑medication regimen includes isoniazid,
rifampin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Complete the series of prescribed
medication to ensure all bacteria are eliminated and to
decrease the chance of resistance.

Isoniazid

Isoniazid, commonly referred to as INH, is bactericidal and
inhibits growth of mycobacteria by preventing synthesis
of mycolic acid in the cell wall.

NURSING ACTIONS
● This medication should be taken on an empty stomach.
● Monitor for hepatotoxicity (jaundice, anorexia, malaise,

fatigue, and nausea) and neurotoxicity (such as tingling
of the hands and feet).

● Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is often prescribed concurrently
to prevent neurotoxicity from isoniazid.

● Liver function testing should be completed prior to and
monthly after starting INH.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Do not drink alcohol while taking isoniazid, because it

can increase the risk for hepatotoxicity.
● Report any manifestations of hepatotoxicity.

Rifampin

Rifampin, commonly referred to as RIF, is a bacteriostatic
and bactericidal antibiotic that inhibits DNA‑dependent
RNA polymerase activity in susceptible cells.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for hepatotoxicity.
● Liver function testing should be completed prior to and

at least monthly after starting RIF.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Urine and other secretions will be orange.
● Immediately report pain or swelling of joints, loss of

appetite, jaundice, or malaise.
● This medication can interfere with the efficacy of

oral contraceptives.

Pyrazinamide

Pyrazinamide, commonly referred to as PZA, is a
bacteriostatic and bactericidal. Its exact mechanism of
action is unknown.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for hepatotoxicity.
● Assess for history of gout, as the medication will cause

an adverse effect of nongouty polyarthralgias.
● Liver enzymes should be completed baseline and every
2 weeks after starting PZA.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Drink a glass of water with each dose and increase

fluids during the day to help prevent gout and
kidney problems.

● Immediately report yellowing of the skin or eyes, pain
or swelling of joints, loss of appetite, or malaise.

● Avoid using alcohol while taking pyrazinamide.

Ethambutol
● Ethambutol, commonly referred to as EMB, is a

bacteriostatic and works by suppressing RNA synthesis,
subsequently inhibiting protein synthesis.

● This medication should not be given to children younger
than 8 years of age.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Obtain baseline visual acuity tests, and complete

monthly after starting treatment.
● Determine color discrimination ability before starting

treatment, and periodically.
● Stop medication immediately if ocular toxicity occurs.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Report changes in vision
immediately.

Streptomycin sulfate

Streptomycin sulfate is an aminoglycoside
antibiotic. It potentiates the efficacy of macrophages
during phagocytosis.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Due to its high level of toxicity, this medication should

be used only in clients who have multidrug‑resistant
TB (MDR‑TB).

● Streptomycin can cause ototoxicity, so monitor hearing
function and tolerance often.

● Report significant changes in urine output and renal
function studies.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Drink at least 2 L of fluid daily.
● Notify the provider if hearing declines.

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Mantoux test (23.1)

● A client will have a positive intradermal TB test within
2 to 10 weeks of exposure to the infection.

● An intradermal injection of an extract of the tubercle
bacillus is made. It should be read in 48 to 72 hr.

● An induration (palpable, raised, hardened area) of
10 mm or greater in diameter indicates a positive
skin test.

● An induration of 5 mm is considered a positive test for
immunocompromised clients.

● A positive Mantoux test can indicate that the client
has developed an immune response to TB. It does not
confirm that active disease is present.

● Clients who have had a positive Mantoux test or have
received a Bacillus Calmette‑Guerin vaccine within the
past 10 years can have a false‑positive Mantoux test.
These clients need a chest x‑ray or QuantiFERON‑TB
Gold test to evaluate the presence of active TB
infection.

● Clients experiencing immunocompromise can
demonstrate anergy, or lack of response to Mantoux
testing, even if M. tuberculosis is present in the body. In
this case, other diagnostic testing is indicated to rule
out infection.

● Individuals who have latent TB can have a positive
Mantoux test and can receive treatment to prevent
development of an active form of the disease.

● Clients who are immunocompromised (such as those
who have HIV) and older adult clients should be tested
for TB. Clients starting immunosuppressive therapy
(such as tumor necrosis factor antagonists) should be
tested for TB prior to starting treatment.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Return for a reading of the injection
site by a health care personnel between 48 and 72 hr.

Online Image: Positive Mantoux Test

146 CHAPTER 23 tUBERCULOsIs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
● Contact social services if the client will need assistance

in obtaining prescribed medications.
● Refer the client to a community clinic as needed for

follow‑up appointments to monitor medication regimen
and status of disease.

CLIENt EDUCAtION
● TB is often treated in the home setting.
● Airborne precautions are not needed in the home setting

because family members have already been exposed.
● Exposed family members should be tested for TB.
● Continue medication therapy for its full duration of 6 to
12 months, even up to 2 years for multidrug‑resistant
TB. Failure to take the medications can lead to a
resistant strain of TB.

● Continue with follow‑up care for 1 full year.
● Sputum samples are needed every 2 to 4 weeks

to monitor therapy effectiveness. Clients are no
longer considered infectious after three consecutive
negative sputum cultures, and can resume work and
social interactions.

● Practice proper hand hygiene.
● Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
● Contaminated tissues should be disposed of in

plastic bags.
● While TB is active, wear a mask when in public places or

in contact with crowds.

COMPLICATIONS

Miliary TB

The organism invades the bloodstream and can spread
to multiple body organs with complications including
the following.

● Headaches, neck stiffness, and drowsiness (can be
life‑threatening)

● Pericarditis: Dyspnea, swollen neck veins, pleuritic
pain, and hypotension due to an accumulation of fluid
in pericardial sac that inhibits the heart’s ability to
pump effectively

NURSING ACTIONS: Treatment is the same as for
pulmonary TB.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is caring for a client who has tuberculosis.
Use the AtI Active Learning template: system
Disorder to complete this item.

PATHOPHYSIOLOGY RELATED TO CLIENT PROBLEM

NURSING CARE: Include three nursing interventions.

COMPLICATIONS: Identify one potential complication.

Application Exercises

1. A home health nurse is teaching a client who has
active tuberculosis and is following a medication
regimen that includes a combination of isoniazid,
rifampin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol. Which
of the following client statements indicate
understanding? (select all that apply.)

A. “I can substitute one medication for another
if I run out because they all fight infection.”

B. “I will wash my hands each time I cough.”

C. “I will wear a mask when I am in a public area.”

D. “I am glad I don’t have to have any
more sputum specimens.”

E. “I don’t need to worry where I go once
I start taking my medications.”

2. A nurse is teaching a client who has tuberculosis. Which
of the following statements should the nurse include?

A. “You will need to continue to take the
multimedication regimen for 4 months.”

B. “You will need to provide sputum
samples every 4 weeks to monitor the
effectiveness of the medication.”

C. “You will need to remain
hospitalized for treatment.”

D. “You will need to wear a mask at all times.”

3. A nurse is caring for a client who has a new diagnosis of
tuberculosis and has been placed on a multimedication
regimen. Which of the following instructions should
the nurse give the client related to ethambutol?

A. “Your urine can turn a dark orange.”

B. “Watch for a change in the sclera of your eyes.”

C. “Watch for any changes in vision.”

D. “take vitamin B6 daily.”

4. A nurse is preparing to administer a new prescription
for isoniazid (INh) to a light‑skinned client who
has tuberculosis. the nurse should instruct the
client to report which of the following findings
as an adverse effect of the medication?

A. “You might notice yellowing of your skin.”

B. “You might experience pain in your joints.”

C. “You might notice tingling of your hands.”

D. “You might experience a loss of appetite.”

5. A nurse is providing information about tuberculosis
to a group of clients at a local community center.
Which of the following manifestations should
the nurse include? (select all that apply.)

A. Persistent cough

B. Weight gain

C. Fatigue

D. Night sweats

E. Purulent sputum

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 23 tUBERCULOsIs 147

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

PATHOPHYSIOLOGY RELATED TO CLIENT PROBLEM: tuberculosis
(tB) is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
tB is transmitted through aerosolization (airborne route). Once
inside the lung, the body encases the tB bacillus with collagen
and other cells. this can appear as a Ghon tubercle on a chest
x‑ray. Only a small percentage of people infected with tB actually
develop an active form of the infection. the tB bacillus can lie
dormant for many years before producing the disease. tB primarily
affects the lungs but can spread to any organ in the blood.

NURSING CARE

Nursing Interventions
● Administer heated and humidified oxygen therapy as prescribed.
● Prevent infection transmission.
● Wear an N95 or hEPA respirator when caring for
clients who are hospitalized with tB.

● Place the client in a negative airflow room, and
implement airborne precautions.

● Use barrier protection when the risk of hand
or clothing contamination exists.

● have the client wear a surgical mask if transportation
to another department is necessary.

● transport the client using the shortest and least busy route.
● teach the client to cough and expectorate sputum into tissues
that are disposed of by the client into provided sacks.

● Administer medications as prescribed.
● Promote adequate nutrition.
● Encourage fluid intake and a well‑balanced
diet for adequate caloric intake.

COMPLICATIONS

miliary tB: the organism invades the bloodstream and can spread
to multiple body organs with complications including the following:

● headaches, neck stiffness, and drowsiness (can be life‑threatening)
● Pericarditis: dyspnea, swollen neck veins, pleuritic pain, and
hypotension due to an accumulation of fluid in the pericardial
sac that inhibits the heart’s ability to pump effectively

● Nursing Actions: treatment is the same as for pulmonary tB.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

Application Exercises Key

1. A. medications should not be replaced for one another. It is
important that the client adhere to the multimedication
regimen prescribed to treat tuberculosis.

B. CORRECT: the client should wash their hands each time
they cough to prevent spreading the infection.

C. CORRECT: the client should wear a mask while in public
areas to prevent spreading the infection. the client has active
tB, which is transmitted through the airborne route.

D. the client will need to collect sputum cultures
every 2 to 4 weeks until three consecutive sputum
cultures have come back negative.

E. the client should continue to avoid crowded
areas if possible and take preventative measures,
such as wearing a mask when going out.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

2. A. the client who has tuberculosis needs to continue taking
the multimedication regimen for 6 to 12 months.

B. CORRECT: the client who has tuberculosis needs
to provide sputum samples every 2 to 4 weeks to
monitor the effectiveness of the medication.

C. the client who has tuberculosis is often
treated in the home setting.

D. the client who has tuberculosis needs to
wear a mask when in public areas.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Laboratory Values

3. A. the client who is receiving rifampin should expect
to see his urine turn a dark orange.

B. the client who is taking ethambutol does not have an adverse
effect resulting in changes to the sclera of the eyes.

C. CORRECT: the client who is receiving ethambutol will
need to watch for visual changes due to optic neuritis,
which can result from taking this medication.

D. the client who is taking isoniazid should take vitamin B6
daily and observe for signs of hepatotoxicity.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

4. A. Yellowing of the skin can be an adverse effect of rifampin
or pyrazinamide in a client who has light skin.

B. Experiencing pain in the joints can be
an adverse effect of rifampin.

C. CORRECT: tingling of the hands can be
an adverse effect of isoniazid.

D. Loss of appetite can be an adverse effect of rifampin.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

5. A. CORRECT: A persistent cough is a
manifestation of tuberculosis.

B. Weight loss is a manifestation of tuberculosis.
C. CORRECT: Fatigue is a manifestation of tuberculosis.
D. CORRECT: Night sweats is a manifestation of tuberculosis.
E. CORRECT: Purulent sputum is a

manifestation of tuberculosis.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

148 CHAPTER 23 tUBERCULOsIs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 24 PULmONARY EmBOLIsm 149

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: RESPIRATORY EMERGENCIES

CHAPTER 24 Pulmonary
Embolism

A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a
substance (solid, gaseous, or liquid) enters
venous circulation and forms a blockage in the
pulmonary vasculature.

Emboli originating from venous thromboembolism,
also known as deep‑vein thrombosis (Dvt), are the
most common cause. Other types of emboli
include fat, air, septic (due to bacterial invasion of a
thrombus), and amniotic fluid.

Increased hypoxia to pulmonary tissue and
impaired blood flow can result from a large
embolus. A PE is a medical emergency.

Prevention, rapid recognition, and treatment of
a PE are essential for a positive outcome.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Promote smoking cessation.
● Encourage maintenance of appropriate weight for height

and body frame.
● Encourage a healthy diet and physical activity.
● Prevent DVT by encouraging clients to do leg exercises,

wear compression stockings, and avoid sitting for long
periods of time.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
● Long‑term immobility
● Oral contraceptive use and estrogen therapy
● Pregnancy
● Tobacco use
● Hypercoagulability (elevated platelet count)
● Obesity
● Surgery (especially orthopedic surgery of the lower

extremities or pelvis)
● Central venous catheters
● Heart failure or chronic atrial fibrillation
● Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (sickle cell)
● Long bone fractures
● Cancer
● Trauma
● Septicemia
● Advanced age

◯ Older adult clients have decreased pulmonary reserves
due to normal lung changes, including decreased lung
elasticity and thickening alveoli. Older adult clients
can decompensate more quickly.

◯ Certain pathological conditions and procedures that
predispose clients to DVT formation (peripheral
vascular disease, hypertension, hip and knee
arthroplasty) are more prevalent in older adults.

◯ Many older adult clients experience decreased
physical activity levels, thus predisposing them to
DVT formation and pulmonary emboli.

CHAPTER 24

Online Image: Pulmonary Embolism

24.1 Pulmonary embolism

150 CHAPTER 24 PULmONARY EmBOLIsm CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Anxiety
● Feelings of impending doom
● Sudden onset of chest pressure
● Pain upon inspiration and chest wall tenderness
● Dyspnea and air hunger
● Cough
● Hemoptysis

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Pleurisy
● Pleural friction rub
● Tachycardia
● Hypotension
● Tachypnea
● Adventitious breath sounds (crackles) and cough
● Heart murmur in S3 and S4

● Diaphoresis
● Low‑grade fever
● Decreased oxygen saturation levels (expected reference

range is 95% to 100%), low SaO2, cyanosis
● Petechiae (red dots under the skin) over chest

and axillae
● Distended neck veins
● Syncope
● Cyanosis

LABORAtORY tEsts

ABG analysis
● PaCO2 levels are low (expected reference range is
35 to 45 mm Hg) due to initial hyperventilation
(respiratory alkalosis).

● As hypoxemia progresses, respiratory acidosis occurs.
● Further progression leads to metabolic acidosis due to

buildup of lactic acid from tissue hypoxia.

D‑dimer

Elevated above expected reference range in response to
clot formation and release of fibrin degradation products
(expected reference range is less than 0.4 mcg/mL).

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Computed tomography scan

The multidetector‑row computed tomography angiography
(MDCTA) is the criterion standard for detecting PE when
available, as it provides high‑quality visualization of the
lung parenchyma.

Ventilation‑perfusion scan

Ventilation‑perfusion (V/Q) scan images show circulation
of air and blood in the lungs and can detect a PE. Useful
when client allergy to contrast media is a contraindication
to other types of imaging.

Pulmonary angiography
● This is the gold standard test when MDCTA is

unavailable to detect a PE, but it is invasive and costly.
A catheter is inserted into the vena cava to visualize
the embolus.

● Pulmonary angiography is a higher risk procedure than
a V/Q scan.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Verify that informed consent has been obtained.
● Monitor status (vital signs, SaO2, anxiety, bleeding with

angiography) during and after the procedure.

Chest x‑ray

The chest x‑ray can provide data to support the
occurrence of pulmonary embolism, such as elevation of
the diaphragm on the affected side or pleural effusion.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Administer oxygen therapy to relieve hypoxemia and

dyspnea. Position the client to maximize ventilation
(high‑Fowler’s = 90°).

● Initiate and maintain IV access.
● Administer medications as prescribed.
● Assess respiratory status at least every 30 min.

◯ Auscultate lung sounds.
◯ Measure rate, rhythm, and ease of respirations.
◯ Inspect skin color and capillary refill.
◯ Examine for position of trachea.

● Assess cardiac status.
◯ Compare blood pressure in both arms.
◯ Palpate pulse quality.
◯ Check for dysrhythmias on cardiac monitor.
◯ Examine the neck for distended neck veins.
◯ Inspect the thorax for petechiae.

● Provide emotional support and comfort to control
client anxiety.

● Monitor changes in level of consciousness and
mental status.

mEDICAtIONs

Anticoagulants

Unfractionated and low molecular weight heparin,
enoxaparin, and warfarin are used to prevent clots from
getting larger or additional clots from forming.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for contraindications (active bleeding, peptic

ulcer disease, history of stroke, recent trauma).
● Monitor bleeding times: Prothrombin time (PT) and

international normalized ratio (INR) for warfarin,
partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) for heparin, and
complete blood count (CBC).

● Monitor for adverse effects of anticoagulants
(thrombocytopenia, anemia, hemorrhage).

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 24 PULmONARY EmBOLIsm 151

Direct factor Xa inhibitor

Rivaroxaban, apixaban, and fondaparinux bind directly
with the active center of factor Xa, which inhibits the
production of thrombin.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for bleeding from any site. (Clients have

experienced epidural hematomas, as well as intracranial,
retinal, adrenal, and GI bleeds.)

● Hold medication for 18 hr prior to and 6 hr after removal
of an epidural catheter.

Direct thrombin inhibitor

Dabigatran acts as a direct inhibitor of thrombin.

NURSING ACTIONS: Assess for bleeding and
manifestations of blood loss.

Thrombolytic therapy
● Alteplase, reteplase, and tenecteplase are used to

dissolve blood clots and restore pulmonary blood flow.
● Similar adverse effects and contraindications

as anticoagulants.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for contraindications (known bleeding disorders,

uncontrolled hypertension, active bleeding, peptic
ulcer disease, history of stroke, recent trauma or
surgery, pregnancy).

● Monitor for evidence of bleeding, thrombocytopenia,
and anemia.

● Monitor blood pressure, heart rate, respirations, and
oxygen saturation per facility protocol before, during,
and after administration of medication.

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
● Cardiology and pulmonary services should be consulted

to manage a PE and treatment.
● Respiratory services should be consulted for oxygen

therapy, breathing treatments, and ABGs.
● Radiology should be consulted for diagnostic studies to

determine PE.

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs

Embolectomy

Surgical removal of embolus

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prepare the client for the procedure (NPO status,

informed consent).
● Monitor postoperatively (vital signs, SaO2, incision

drainage, pain management).

Vena cava filter

Insertion of a filter in the vena cava to prevent further
emboli from reaching the pulmonary vasculature

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prepare the client for the procedure (NPO status,

informed consent).
● Monitor postoperatively (vital signs, SaO2, incision

drainage, pain management).

CLIENt EDUCAtION
● If homebound, set up home care services to perform

weekly blood draws.
● For severe dyspnea, set up referral services to supply

portable oxygen.
● Follow recommendations for prevention of a PE.

◯ If smoking, consider smoking cessation.
◯ Avoid long periods of immobility.
◯ Perform physical activity, such as walking.
◯ Wear compression stockings to promote circulation.
◯ Avoid crossing the legs.

● If taking warfarin, do not increase or decrease the amount
of vitamin K foods consumed (green, leafy vegetables).
Vitamin K can reduce the anticoagulant effects of warfarin.

● Adhere to a schedule for monitoring PT and INR, and
follow instructions regarding medication dosage
adjustments (if on warfarin) and regular blood draws.

● There is an increased risk for bruising and bleeding.
◯ Avoid taking aspirin products, unless specified by the

provider.
◯ Check the mouth and skin daily for bleeding
and bruising.

◯ Use electric shavers and soft‑bristled toothbrushes.
◯ Avoid blowing the nose hard, and gently apply

pressure if nose bleeds occur.
● If traveling, takes measures to prevent PE.

◯ Arise from a sitting position for 5 min out of every hour.
◯ Wear support stockings.
◯ Remain hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
◯ Perform active ROM exercises when sitting (ankle

pump exercises).

152 CHAPTER 24 PULmONARY EmBOLIsm CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

COMPLICATIONS

Decreased cardiac output

Blood volume is decreased.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for hypotension, tachycardia, cyanosis, jugular

venous distention, and syncope.
● Assess for the presence of S3 or S4 heart sounds.
● Initiate and maintain IV access.
● Monitor urinary output (should be 30 mL/hr or more).
● Administer IV fluids (crystalloids) to replace

vascular volume.
● Continuously monitor the ECG.
● Monitor pulmonary pressures. IV fluids can contribute

to pulmonary hypertension for clients who have
right‑sided heart failure (cor pulmonale).

● Administer inotropic agents (milrinone, dobutamine) to
increase myocardial contractility.

● Vasodilators can be needed if pulmonary artery pressure
is high enough to interfere with cardiac contractility.

Hemorrhage

Risk for bleeding increases due to anticoagulant therapy.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for bleeding from or bruising around injection

and surgical sites at least every 2 hr.
● Monitor cardiovascular status (blood pressure, heart

rate and rhythm).
● Monitor CBC (hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelets) and

bleeding times (PT, aPTT, INR).
● Administer IV fluids and blood products as required.
● Test stool, urine, and emesis for occult blood.
● Monitor for internal bleeding (measure abdominal girth

and check for abdominal or flank pain) at least every 8 hr.
● Have antidote available for use if necessary.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is caring for a client who has a pulmonary
embolism. Use the AtI Active Learning template:
system Disorder to complete this item.

PATHOPHYSIOLOGY RELATED TO CLIENT PROBLEM

NURSING CARE: Describe three nursing interventions.

MEDICATIONS: Identify two.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a group of clients.
Which of the following clients are at risk for a
pulmonary embolism? (select all that apply.)

A. A client who has a BmI of 30

B. A female client who is postmenopausal

C. A client who has a fractured femur

D. A client who is a marathon runner

E. A client who has chronic atrial fibrillation

2. A nurse is assessing a client who has a pulmonary
embolism. Which of the following manifestations
should the nurse expect? (select all that apply.)

A. Bradypnea

B. Pleural friction rub

C. hypertension

D. Petechiae

E. tachycardia

3. A nurse is reviewing prescriptions for a client who has
acute dyspnea and diaphoresis. the client states, “I am
anxious and unable to get enough air.” vital signs are
heart rate 117/min, respirations 38/min, temperature
38.4° C (101.2° F), and blood pressure 100/54 mm hg.
Which of the following nursing actions is the priority?

A. Notify the provider.

B. Administer heparin via Iv infusion.

C. Administer oxygen therapy.

D. Obtain a Ct scan.

4. A nurse is caring for a client who has a new
prescription for heparin therapy. Which of
the following statements by the client should
indicate an immediate concern for the nurse?

A. “I am allergic to morphine.”

B. “I take antacids several times a day for my ulcer.”

C. “I had a blood clot in my leg several years ago.”

D. “It hurts to take a deep breath.”

5. A nurse is caring for a client who is to
receive thrombolytic therapy. Which of the
following factors should the nurse recognize
as a contraindication to the therapy?

A. hip arthroplasty 2 weeks ago

B. Elevated sedimentation rate

C. Incident of exercise‑induced asthma 1 week ago

D. Elevated platelet count

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 24 PULmONARY EmBOLIsm 153

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: the client who has a BmI of 30 is considered
obese and is at increased risk for a blood clot.

B. A female who is postmenopausal has decreased
estrogen levels. Increased estrogen levels are a risk
factor for developing a pulmonary embolism.

C. CORRECT: the client who has a fractured
bone, particularly in a long bone such as the
femur, increases the risk of fat emboli.

D. the client who is a marathon runner has increased
blood flow and circulation of his body, which decreases
the risk for developing a pulmonary embolism.

E. CORRECT: the client who has turbulent blood
flow in the heart, such as with atrial defibrillation,
is also at increased risk of a blood clot.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

2. A. Expect the client to have tachypnea.
B. CORRECT: Expect the client to have a pleural friction rub.
C. Expect the client to have hypotension.
D. CORRECT: Expect the client to have petechiae.
E. CORRECT: Expect the client to have tachycardia.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Unexpected Response to Therapies

3. A. Notify the provider about the condition to obtain guidance
on treatment. however, another action is the priority.

B. Administer Iv heparin as a treatment to prevent growth
of the existing clot and to prevent additional clots from
forming. however, another action is the priority.

C. CORRECT: When using the airway, breathing,
circulation (ABC) priority approach to care, determine
that the priority finding is related to the respiratory
status. meeting oxygenation needs by administering
oxygen therapy is the priority action.

D. Obtain a Ct scan to detect the presence and location of
the blood clot. however, another action is the priority.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Medical Emergencies

4. A. Document the client’s allergy to morphine to
manage the client’s discomfort due to a blood clot.
however, another action is the priority.

B. CORRECT: the greatest risk to the client is the
possibility of bleeding from a peptic ulcer. the priority
intervention is to notify the provider of the finding.

C. Document the client’s history of a blood clot
to provide preventative measures. however,
another action is the priority.

D. Expect the client to report pain with breathing.
however, another action is the priority.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Expected Actions/Outcomes

5. A. CORRECT: the client who has undergone a major
surgical procedure within the last 3 weeks should
not receive thrombolytic therapy because of the
risk of hemorrhage from the surgical site.

B. An elevated sedimentation rate is not a
contraindication to receiving heparin.

C. An incident of exercise‑induced asthma is not
a contraindication to receiving heparin.

D. An elevated platelet count is not a
contraindication to receiving heparin.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

PATHOPHYSIOLOGY RELATED TO CLIENT PROBLEM: A pulmonary
embolism (PE) occurs when a substance (solid, gaseous, or liquid)
enters venous circulation and forms a blockage in the pulmonary
vasculature. Emboli originating from deep‑vein thrombosis
(Dvt) are the most common cause. tumors, bone marrow,
amniotic fluid, and foreign matter can also become emboli.

NURSING CARE
● Administer oxygen therapy as prescribed to
relieve hypoxemia and dyspnea.

● Position the client to maximize ventilation (high‑Fowler’s = 90%).
● Initiate and maintain Iv access.
● Administer medications as prescribed.
● Provide emotional support and comfort to control client anxiety.
● monitor changes in level of consciousness and mental status.

MEDICATIONS
● Anticoagulants: enoxaparin, heparin, and warfarin
● thrombolytic therapy: alteplase, reteplase, and tenecteplase

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Unexpected
Response to Therapies

154 CHAPTER 24 PULmONARY EmBOLIsm CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 25 PNEUmOthORAX, hEmOthORAX, AND FLAIL ChEst 155

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: RESPIRATORY EMERGENCIES

CHAPTER 25 Pneumothorax,
Hemothorax, and
Flail Chest

A pneumothorax is the presence of air or gas in
the pleural space that causes lung collapse.

A tension pneumothorax occurs when air enters
the pleural space during inspiration through
a one‑way valve and is not able to exit upon
expiration. the trapped air causes pressure
on the heart and the lung. As a result, the
increase in pressure compresses blood vessels
and limits venous return, leading to a decrease
in cardiac output. Death can result if not
treated immediately. As a result of a tension
pneumothorax, air and pressure continue
to rise in the pleural cavity, which causes a
mediastinal shift.

A hemothorax is an accumulation of blood in
the pleural space.

A spontaneous pneumothorax can occur when
there has been no trauma. A small bleb on the
lung ruptures and air enters the pleural space.

A flail chest occurs when at least two
neighboring ribs, usually on one side of the
chest, sustain multiple fractures, causing
instability of the chest wall and paradoxical
chest wall movement. this results in significant
limitation in chest wall expansion.

Pneumothorax and
hemothorax

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
● Blunt chest trauma
● Penetrating chest wounds
● Closed/occluded chest tube
● Older adult clients have decreased pulmonary reserves

due to normal lung changes, including decreased lung
elasticity and thickening alveoli.

● Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Anxiety
● Pleuritic pain

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Manifestations of respiratory distress (tachypnea,

tachycardia, hypoxia, cyanosis, dyspnea, and use of
accessory muscles)

● Tracheal deviation to the unaffected side
(tension pneumothorax)

● Reduced or absent breath sounds on the affected side
● Asymmetrical chest wall movement
● Hyperresonance on percussion due to trapped air

(pneumothorax)
● Dull percussion (hemothorax)
● Subcutaneous emphysema (air accumulating in

subcutaneous tissue)

LABORAtORY tEsts
ABGs: Hypoxemia (PaO2 less than 80 mm Hg)

CHAPTER 25

25.1 Pneumothorax

156 CHAPTER 25 PNEUmOthORAX, hEmOthORAX, AND FLAIL ChEst CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Chest x‑ray

Used to confirm pneumothorax or hemothorax

Thoracentesis

Thoracentesis can be used to confirm hemothorax.
Thoracentesis is the surgical perforation of the chest wall
and pleural space with a large‑bore needle.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Ensure that informed consent has been obtained.
● Assist with client positioning and specimen transport.
● Monitor status (vital signs, SaO2, injection site).
● Assist the client to the edge of the bed and to lean over

a bedside table.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Remain still during the procedure (no moving, coughing,

or deep breathing).
● Discomfort will be felt when the local anesthetic

solution is injected. When the needle is inserted into the
pleural space, some pressure can be felt, but no pain.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Administer oxygen therapy.
● Auscultate heart and lung sounds and monitor vital

signs every 4 hr.
● Document ventilator settings hourly if the client is

receiving mechanical ventilation.
● Check ABGs, SaO2, CBC, and chest x‑ray results.
● Position the client to maximize ventilation

(high‑Fowler’s = 90°).
● Provide emotional support to the client and family.
● Monitor chest tube drainage.

● Administer medications as prescribed.
● Encourage prompt medical attention when evidence of

infection occurs.
● Set up referral services (home health, respiratory

services) to provide portable oxygen if needed.

mEDICAtIONs

Benzodiazepines (sedatives)

Lorazepam or midazolam can be used to decrease anxiety.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor vital signs. (Benzodiazepines can cause

hypotension and respiratory distress.)
● Remember that the medications have amnesiac effects.
● Monitor for paradoxical effects (euphoria, rage).

CLIENT EDUCATION: Medications have amnesic effects
and cause drowsiness.

Opioid agonists (pain medications)
● Morphine sulfate and fentanyl are opioid agents used to

treat moderate to severe pain. These medications act on
the mu and kappa receptors that help alleviate pain.

● Activation of these receptors produces analgesia (pain
relief), respiratory depression, euphoria, sedation, and
decrease in gastrointestinal motility.

● If the client is receiving mechanical ventilation, the
nursing actions and client education can vary.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use cautiously for clients who have asthma or

emphysema, due to the risk of respiratory depression.
● Assess pain every 4 hr.
● Monitor clients, especially older adults, for

manifestations of respiratory depression. If respirations
are 12/min or less, stop the medication and notify
provider immediately.

● Monitor vital signs for hypotension and bradypnea.
● Assess for nausea and vomiting.
● Assess level of sedation (drowsiness, level of

consciousness).
● Monitor for constipation.
● Encourage fluid intake and activity related to a decrease

in gastric motility.
● Monitor intake and output. Report fluid retention as an

adverse effect of opioid medications.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● If receiving a fentanyl patch, the initial patch takes

several hours to take effect. A short‑acting pain
medication is administered for breakthrough pain.

● If there are no fluid restrictions due to other conditions,
drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation.

● Follow instructions on how to use a patient‑controlled
analgesia (PCA) pump if applicable. The client is the only
person who should push the medication administration
button. The safety lockout mechanism on the PCA
prevents the client from using too much medication.

25.2 Hemothorax

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 25 PNEUmOthORAX, hEmOthORAX, AND FLAIL ChEst 157

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
Respiratory services should be consulted for ABGs,
breathing treatments, and suctioning for airway
management.

Pulmonary services can be consulted for chest tube
management and pulmonary care.

Pain management services can be consulted if pain
persists or is uncontrolled.

Rehabilitation care can be consulted if the client has
prolonged weakness and needs assistance with an
increasing level of activity.

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs

Chest tube insertion

Chest tubes are inserted in the pleural space to drain fluid,
blood, or air; re‑establish a negative pressure; facilitate
lung expansion; and restore normal intrapleural pressure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Obtain informed consent, gather supplies, monitor the

client’s status (vital signs, SaO2, chest tube drainage),
report abnormalities to the provider, and administer
pain medications.

● Continually monitor vital signs and the client’s
response to the procedure.

● Monitor chest tube placement, function of chest
drainage system, and dressing.

CLIENt EDUCAtION
● Deep breathe to promote lung expansion.
● Take rest periods as needed.
● Use proper hand hygiene to prevent infection.
● Participate in coughing, deep breathing, and use of

incentive spirometry.
● Obtain immunizations for influenza and pneumonia.
● Recovery from a pneumothorax/hemothorax can

be lengthy.
● Talk with family or other support people to express

feelings about the condition and recovery.
● If applicable, consider smoking cessation.
● Follow up with the provider as instructed, and report

the following to the provider.
◯ Upper respiratory infection
◯ Fever
◯ Cough
◯ Difficulty breathing
◯ Sharp chest pain

COMPLICATIONS

Decreased cardiac output
● The amount of blood pumped by the heart decreases as

intrathoracic pressure rises.
● Hypotension develops.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer IV fluids and blood products as prescribed.
● Monitor heart rate and rhythm.
● Monitor intake and output (chest tube drainage).

Respiratory failure

Inadequate gas exchange due to lung collapse

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prepare for mechanical ventilation.
● Continue respiratory assessment.

Flail chest
As a result of the free‑floating rib segments, the lung
below the flail segment caves in on inhalation and
balloons out on exhalation. The portion of the lung below
the flail segment cannot participate in gas exchange, so
oxygenation is compromised.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
Multiple rib fractures from blunt chest trauma
(often caused by motor‑vehicle crash or as a result of
cardiopulmonary resuscitation on older adults)

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Unequal chest expansion (the unaffected side of the

chest will expand, while the affected side can appear to
diminish in size or remain stationary)

● Paradoxical chest wall movement (inward movement
of segment during inspiration, outward movement of
segment during expiration)

● Tachycardia
● Hypotension
● Dyspnea
● Cyanosis
● Anxiety
● Chest pain

158 CHAPTER 25 PNEUmOthORAX, hEmOthORAX, AND FLAIL ChEst CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Administer humidified oxygen.
● Monitor vital signs and SaO2.
● Review findings of pulmonary function tests, periodic

chest x‑rays, and ABGs.
● Assess lung sounds, color, and capillary refill.
● Promote lung expansion by encouraging deep breathing

and proper positioning.
● Maintain mechanical ventilation in the event of

severe injury to establish adequate gas exchange and
stabilize the injury. (Flail chest is usually stabilized by
positive‑pressure ventilation.)

● Suction trachea and endotracheal tube as needed.
● Administer pain medication. Patient‑controlled

analgesia or an epidural block commonly is used.
● Administer IV fluids as prescribed.
● Monitor intake and output.
● Offer support and reassurance by explaining

all procedures.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is teaching a newly licensed nurse regarding
care for a client who has a hemothorax. What should
be included in this review? Use the AtI Active Learning
template: system Disorder to complete this item.

DESCRIPTION OF DISORDER/DISEASE PROCESS

NURSING CARE: Describe three nursing interventions.

MEDICATIONS: Describe two medications
used for hemothorax.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is assessing a client following a gunshot
wound to the chest. For which of the following
findings should the nurse monitor to detect
a pneumothorax? (select all that apply.)

A. tachypnea

B. Deviation of the trachea

C. Bradycardia

D. Decreased use of accessory muscles

E. Pleuritic pain

2. A nurse is assisting the provider to care for a client who
has developed a spontaneous pneumothorax. Which
of the following actions should the nurse perform first?

A. Assess the client’s pain.

B. Obtain a large‑bore Iv needle for decompression.

C. Administer lorazepam.

D. Prepare for chest tube insertion.

3. A nurse is reviewing discharge instructions
for a client who has COPD and experienced
a pneumothorax. Which of the following
statements should the nurse include?

A. “Notify your provider if you experience weakness.”

B. “You should be able to return to work in 1 week.”

C. “You need to wear a mask when in crowded areas.”

D. “Notify your provider if you experience
a productive cough.”

4. A nurse in the emergency department is assessing
a client who has sustained multiple rib fractures
and has a flail chest. Which of the following findings
should the nurse expect? (select all that apply.)

A. Bradycardia

B. Cyanosis

C. hypotension

D. Dyspnea

E. Paradoxical chest movement

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 25 PNEUmOthORAX, hEmOthORAX, AND FLAIL ChEst 159

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: the client who has a pneumothorax
can experience tachypnea related to respiratory
distress caused by the injury.

B. CORRECT: the client who has a pneumothorax
can experience deviation of the trachea as
tension increases within the chest.

C. the client who has a pneumothorax can experience
tachycardia related to respiratory distress and pain.

D. the client who has a pneumothorax can
experience an increase in the use of accessory
muscles as respiratory distress occurs.

E. CORRECT: the client who has a pneumothorax can
experience pleuritic pain related to the inflammation
of the pleura of the lung caused by the injury.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Medical Emergencies

2. A. Assessing the client’s pain and administer pain medication
is important. however, another action is the priority.

B. CORRECT: the priority action when using the airway,
breathing, circulation (ABC) approach to client care
is to establish and maintain the client’s respiratory
function. Obtaining a large‑bore Iv needle for
decompression is the priority action by the nurse.

C. Administering a benzodiazepine will treat the client’s
anxiety. however, another action is the priority.

D. Gathering supplies to prepare for chest tube insertion is
important. however, another action is the priority.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

3. A. Weakness is an expected finding following
recovery from a pneumothorax.

B. the client should expect a lengthy recovery
following a pneumothorax.

C. It is not necessary to wear a mask following a
pneumothorax, unless the client has another
condition, such as immunosuppression.

D. CORRECT: the client should notify the provider of a
productive or persistent cough. this can indicate that the
client might need treatment of a respiratory infection.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

4. A. the client can have tachycardia as a
manifestation when experiencing a flail chest
due to inadequate oxygenation.

B. CORRECT: the client can have cyanosis as a
manifestation when experiencing a flail chest
due to inadequate oxygenation.

C. CORRECT: the client can have hypotension as a
manifestation when experiencing a flail chest.

D. CORRECT: the client can have dyspnea as a manifestation
when experiencing a flail chest due to injury and the
client’s inability to effectively inhale and exhale.

E. CORRECT: the client can have paradoxical chest movement
as a manifestation when experiencing a flail chest due to
injury to the chest and the inability to inhale and exhale.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS): hemothorax
is an accumulation of blood in the pleural space.

NURSING CARE
● Administer oxygen therapy.
● Document ventilator settings hourly if the
client is receiving ventilation.

● monitor ABGs, saO2, CBC, and chest x‑ray findings.
● Position the client to maximize ventilation (high‑Fowler’s = 90°).
● Provide emotional support to the client and family.
● monitor chest tube drainage.
● Administer medications as prescribed.
● Encourage prompt medical attention when
manifestations of infection occur.

● Auscultate heart and lung sounds and monitor vital signs every 4 hr.

MEDICATIONS
● Benzodiazepines (sedatives): Lorazepam or
midazolam can be used to decrease anxiety.

● Opioid agonists (pain medications): morphine sulfate
and fentanyl are opioid agents used to treat moderate
to severe pain. these medications act on the mu
and kappa receptors that help alleviate pain.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Medical
Emergencies

160 CHAPTER 25 PNEUmOthORAX, hEmOthORAX, AND FLAIL ChEst CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 26 REsPIRAtORY FAILURE 161

UNIT 3 RESPIRATORY DISORDERS
SECTION: RESPIRATORY EMERGENCIES

CHAPTER 26 Respiratory Failure
Respiratory failure includes acute respiratory failure
(ARF), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDs),
and severe acute respiratory syndrome (sARs).
Because older adult clients have decreased
pulmonary reserves due to normal lung changes,
including decreased lung elasticity and thickening
alveoli, they can decompensate more quickly.

Acute respiratory failure

ARF is caused by failure to adequately ventilate
and/or oxygenate.

● Ventilatory failure is due to a mechanical abnormality
of the lungs or chest wall, impaired muscle function
(especially the diaphragm), or a malfunction in the
respiratory control center of the brain.

● Oxygenation failure can result from a lack of perfusion
to the pulmonary capillary bed (pulmonary embolism)
or a condition that alters the gas exchange medium
(pulmonary edema, pneumonia).

● Both inadequate ventilation and oxygenation can occur
in clients who have diseased lungs (asthma, emphysema,
or cystic fibrosis). Diseased lung tissue can cause
oxygenation failure and increased work of breathing,
eventually resulting in respiratory muscle fatigue and
ventilatory failure. Combined failure leads to more
profound hypoxemia than either ventilatory failure or
oxygenation failure alone.

● Criteria for acute respiratory failure are based on
ABG values.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome

ARDS is a state of acute respiratory failure with a
mortality rate as high as 58%.

● A systemic inflammatory response injures the
alveolar‑capillary membrane. It becomes permeable to
large molecules, and the lung space is filled with fluid.

● A reduction in surfactant weakens the alveoli, which causes
collapse or filling of fluid, leading to worsening edema.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome

SARS is the result of a viral infection from a mutated
strain of the coronaviruses, a group of viruses that also
cause the common cold.

● The virus invades the pulmonary tissue, which leads to
an inflammatory response.

● The virus is spread easily through airborne droplets
from sneezing, coughing, or talking.

● The virus does not spread to the bloodstream because it
flourishes at temperatures slightly below normal core
body temperature.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs

Acute respiratory failure

Ventilatory failure
● COPD
● Pulmonary embolism
● Pneumothorax
● Flail chest
● ARDS
● Asthma
● Pulmonary edema
● Fibrosis of lung tissue
● Neuromuscular disorders (multiple sclerosis,

Guillain‑Barré syndrome), spinal cord injuries, and
cerebrovascular accidents that impair the client’s rate
and depth of respiration

● Elevated intracranial pressure (closed‑head injuries,
cerebral edema, hemorrhagic stroke)

Oxygenation failure
● Pneumonia
● Hypoventilation
● Hypovolemic shock
● Pulmonary edema
● Pulmonary embolism
● ARDS
● Low hemoglobin
● Low concentrations of oxygen in the blood

(carbon monoxide poisoning, high altitude,
smoke inhalation)

Combined ventilatory and oxygenation failure
Decreased gas exchange results in poor diffusion of
oxygen into arterial blood with carbon dioxide retention

● Hypoventilation (poor respiratory movement)
● Chronic bronchitis
● Asthma attack
● Emphysema
● Cardiac failure

Acute respiratory distress syndrome
● Can result from localized lung damage or from the

effects of other systemic problems
● Shock
● Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC)
● Aspiration
● Pulmonary emboli (fat, amniotic fluid)
● Pneumonia and other pulmonary infections
● Sepsis
● Near‑drowning
● Trauma
● Multiple blood transfusions
● Damage to the central nervous system
● Smoke or toxic gas inhalation
● Drug ingestion/toxicity (heroin, opioids, salicylates)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome
● Exposure to an infected individual
● Immunocompromised individuals (chemotherapy, AIDS)

CHAPTER 26

162 CHAPTER 26 REsPIRAtORY FAILURE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Shortness of breath
● Dyspnea with or without exertion
● Orthopnea (difficulty breathing lying flat)
● Rapid, shallow breathing
● Cyanotic, mottled, dusky skin or mucous

membranes
● Tachycardia
● Hypotension
● Substernal or suprasternal retractions
● Decreased SaO2 (less than 90%)
● Adventitious breath sounds (wheezing, rales)
● Cardiac arrhythmias
● Confusion
● Lethargy

Acute respiratory failure
● Dyspnea
● Orthopnea
● Cyanosis
● Pallor
● Hypoxemia
● Tachycardia
● Confusion
● Irritability or agitation
● Restlessness
● Hypercarbia (high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood)

Acute respiratory distress syndrome
● Dyspnea
● Bilateral noncardiogenic pulmonary edema (crackles

upon auscultation)
● Reduced lung compliance
● Dense patchy bilateral pulmonary infiltrates
● Severe hypoxemia despite administration of
100% oxygen

LABORAtORY tEsts
ABGs to confirm and monitor ARF, ARDS, and SARS

● PaO2 less 60 mm Hg and oxygen saturation less than
90% on room air (hypoxemia)

● PaCO2 greater than 45 mm Hg and pH less than 7.35
(hypoxemia, hypercarbia)

Acute respiratory failure

ABGs to confirm and monitor combined ventilatory and
oxygenation failure

● Room air, PaO2 less than 60 mm Hg (hypoxemic/
oxygenation failure), OR PaCO2 greater than 45 mm Hg
in conjunction with a pH less than 7.35 (hypercapnic/
ventilatory failure)

● AND SaO2 less than 90% in both cases

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Chest x‑ray

Results can include
● Pulmonary edema (ARF, ARDS)
● Cardiomegaly (ARF)
● Diffuse infiltrates and white‑out or ground‑glass

appearance (ARDS)
● Infiltrates (SARS)

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assist with client positioning before and after the x‑ray.
● Communicate the results to the appropriate personnel in

a timely manner.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

To rule out cardiac involvement.

Hemodynamic monitoring

Pulmonary capillary wedge pressure with ARDS is
usually low or within the expected reference range (4 to
12 mm Hg). Continuous hemodynamic monitoring is
important for fluid management.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor the ECG during placement of central venous

pressure catheter and hemodynamic monitor.
● Have resuscitation medications and

equipment available.
● Monitor hemodynamic waveforms and readings.
● Confirm catheter placement using a chest x‑ray.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Maintain a patent airway and monitor respiratory status

every hour and more often as needed.
● Mechanical ventilation is often required with

positive‑end expiratory pressure (PEEP) or continuous
positive airway pressure (CPAP) to prevent alveolar
collapse during expiration. Follow facility protocol for
monitoring and documenting ventilator settings.

● Oxygenate before suctioning secretions to prevent
further hypoxemia.

● Suction the client as needed.
● Assess and document sputum color, amount,

and consistency.
● Assess lung sounds per facility protocol.
● Monitor for pneumothorax (a high PEEP can cause the

lungs to collapse).
● Obtain ABGs as prescribed and following each ventilator

setting adjustment.
● Maintain continuous ECG monitoring for changes that

can indicate increased hypoxemia, especially when
repositioning and applying suction.

● Continually monitor vital signs, including SaO2. Assess
pain level.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 26 REsPIRAtORY FAILURE 163

● Position the client to facilitate ventilation and perfusion.
● Prevent infection.

◯ Perform frequent hand hygiene.
◯ Use appropriate suctioning technique.
◯ Provide oral care every 2 hr and as needed.
◯ Wear protective clothing (gown, gloves, mask)
when appropriate.

● Promote nutrition.
◯ Assess bowel sounds.
◯ Monitor elimination patterns.
◯ Obtain daily weights.
◯ Monitor intake and output.
◯ Administer enteral and/or parenteral feedings
as prescribed.

◯ Prevent aspiration with enteral feedings (elevate the
head of the bed 30° to 45°).

◯ Confirm nasogastric (NG) tube placement prior
to feeding.

● Provide emotional support to the client and family.
◯ Encourage verbalization of feelings.
◯ Provide alternative communication means (dry erase

board, pen and paper).

mEDICAtIONs

Benzodiazepines

EXAMPLES
● Lorazepam
● Midazolam

ACTIONS: Reduces anxiety and resistance to ventilation
and decreases oxygen consumption

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor respirations on clients who are not receiving

mechanical ventilation.
● Monitor blood pressure and SaO2.
● Use cautiously in conjunction with opioid narcotics.

General anesthesia

EXAMPLES: Propofol

ACTIONS
● Induces and maintains anesthesia
● Sedates clients for mechanical ventilation

NURSING ACTIONS
● Contraindicated for clients who have hyperlipidemia and

egg allergies.
● Administer only to clients who are intubated

and ventilated.
● Monitor ECG, blood pressure, and sedation levels.
● IV rate must be slowed to assess neurologic status.

(Follow facility protocol.)
● Monitor for hypotension.
● Titrate to desired sedation.
● No analgesic actions. Monitor pain, and administer

analgesics as prescribed

Corticosteroids

EXAMPLES
● Cortisone acetate
● Methylprednisolone sodium succinate
● Dexamethasone sodium phosphate

ACTIONS: Reduces WBC migration and decreases
inflammation

NURSING ACTIONS
● Discontinue medication gradually.
● Administer with an antiulcer medication to prevent

peptic ulcer formation.
● Monitor weight and blood pressure.
● Monitor glucose and electrolytes.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Take oral doses with food and avoid
stopping the medication suddenly.

Opioid analgesics

EXAMPLES
● Morphine sulfate
● Fentanyl

ACTIONS: Provides pain management

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor respirations for clients who are not receiving

mechanical ventilation.
● Monitor blood pressure, heart rate, and SaO2.
● Monitor ABGs. (Hypercapnia can result from

depressed respirations.)
● Use cautiously in conjunction with hypnotic sedatives.
● Assess pain level and response to medication.
● Have naloxone and resuscitation equipment available

for severe respiratory depression in clients who are not
receiving mechanical ventilation.

Neuromuscular blocking agents

EXAMPLES: Vecuronium, atracurium, rocuronium

ACTIONS
● Facilitates ventilation and decreases oxygen consumption
● Often used with painful ventilatory modes (inverse ratio

ventilation and PEEP)

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer only to clients who are intubated

and ventilated.
● Monitor ECG, blood pressure, and muscle strength.
● Give pain medication and sedatives with neuromuscular

blocking agents.
● Neuromuscular blocking agents do not sedate or relieve

pain. (Clients can be awake and frightened.)
● Have neostigmine and atropine available to reverse the

effects of the neuromuscular blocking agent.
● Have resuscitation equipment available.
● Explain all procedures.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Paralysis is medication‑induced.

164 CHAPTER 26 REsPIRAtORY FAILURE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Antibiotics sensitive to cultured organism(s)

EXAMPLES: Vancomycin

ACTIONS: Treats identified organisms

NURSING ACTIONS
● Culture sputum prior to administration of first dose.
● Monitor for a hypersensitivity reaction.
● Give IV doses slowly (over at least 60 min) to avoid red

man syndrome.
● Monitor the IV site for infiltration.
● Do not give with other medications.
● Monitor coagulopathy and renal function.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Take oral doses with food and finish
the prescribed dose.

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
Respiratory therapy

● The respiratory therapist typically manages the
ventilator, adjusts the settings, and provides
chest physiotherapy to improve ventilation and
chest expansion.

● The respiratory therapist also can suction the
endotracheal tube and administer inhalation
medications, such as bronchodilators.

Physical therapy for extended ventilatory support and
rehabilitation

Nutritional therapy
● Enteral or parenteral feeding
● Nutritional support following extubation

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs

Intubation and mechanical ventilation

Artificial airway insertion with mechanical ventilation

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor ECG, SaO2, lung sounds, and color.
● Sedate as needed.
● Provide reassurance to calm the client.
● Have suction equipment, manual resuscitation bag, and

face mask available at all times.
● Suction secretions as needed.
● PREINTUBATION

◯ Oxygenate with 100% oxygen.
◯ Assist ventilation with manual resuscitation bag and
face mask.

◯ Have emergency resuscitation equipment
readily available.

● POSTINTUBATION
◯ Assess end‑tidal carbon dioxide levels, bilateral lung
sounds, symmetrical chest movement, and chest
x‑ray findings to confirm placement of the
endotracheal tube.

◯ Secure the endotracheal tube per facility guidelines.
◯ Assess the balloon cuff for air leaks periodically.

● PEEP
◯ Positive pressure is applied at the end of expiration to

keep the alveoli expanded.
◯ PEEP is added to the ventilator setting to increase
oxygenation and improve lung expansion.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Alternate methods of communication
will be provided because speaking is not possible while
the endotracheal tube is in place.

Kinetic therapy

A kinetic bed that rotates laterally alters client positioning
to reduce atelectasis and improve ventilation.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Begin slowly and gradually to increase the degree of

rotation as tolerated.
● Monitor ECG, SaO2, breath sounds, and blood pressure.
● Stop rotation if the client becomes distressed.
● Provide routine skin care to prevent breakdown.
● Sedate as needed.

COMPLICATIONS

ENDOtRAChEAL tUBE

Trauma
● Trauma during intubation or long‑term intubation can

cause damage to trachea and vocal cords.
● A tracheostomy might be required for

long‑term ventilation.

Altered position of endotracheal tube

NURSING ACTIONS
● Check tube positioning every 1 to 2 hr and as needed.
● Assess lung sounds, SaO2, and chest movement each

time the client is moved, transferred, or turned.
● Secure endotracheal tube per facility guidelines to

maintain tube placement.

Aspiration pneumonia

NURSING ACTIONS
● Check the cuff on the endotracheal tube for leaks.
● Assess suction contents for gastric secretions.
● Verify NG tube placement.

Infection

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prevent infection by using proper hand hygiene and

suctioning technique.
● Assess color, amount, and consistency of secretions.

Blocked endotracheal tube

Indicated by high‑pressure alarm on ventilator

NURSING ACTIONS: Suction secretions to relieve a mucous
plug or insert an oral airway to prevent biting on the tube.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 26 REsPIRAtORY FAILURE 165

mEChANICAL vENtILAtION

Increased intrathoracic pressure
● PEEP increases intrathoracic pressure, which can cause

a decreased blood return to the heart, decreased cardiac
output, and/or hypotension.

● Decreased cardiac output can activate the
renin‑angiotensin‑aldosterone system, leading to fluid
retention and/or decreased urine output.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor input and output, weight,
and hydration status.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Avoid using the Valsalva maneuver
(straining with bowel movement), because it can further
increase intrathoracic pressure.

Barotrauma

Ventilation with positive pressure causes damage to the
lungs (pneumothorax, subcutaneous emphysema).

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor oxygenation status and chest x‑ray.
● Assess for subcutaneous emphysema (crackles and/or air

movement felt under skin).
● Monitor for a high‑pressure ventilator alarm, which can

indicate pneumothorax.

Immobilization

Can result in muscle atrophy, pneumonia, and
pressure injury

NURSING ACTIONS
● Reposition and suction every 2 hr and as needed.
● Provide routine skin care.
● Implement range‑of‑motion exercises to prevent

muscle atrophy.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is reviewing the plan of care for a client who has
acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDs). What should
be included in the plan of care? Use the AtI Active Learning
template: system Disorder to complete this item.

RISK FACTORS: Describe three conditions related to ARDs.

NURSING CARE: Describe three nursing
actions to maintain oxygenation.

COMPLICATIONS: Identify two complications of ARDs.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse in the emergency department is assessing
a client who was in a motor vehicle crash. Findings
include absent breath sounds in the left lower lobe
with dyspnea, blood pressure 118/68 mm hg, heart
rate 124/min, respirations 38/min, temperature
38.6° C (101.4° F), and saO2 92% on room air. Which
of the following actions should the nurse take first?

A. Obtain a chest x‑ray.

B. Prepare for chest tube insertion.

C. Administer oxygen via a high‑flow mask.

D. Initiate Iv access.

2. A nurse is orienting a newly licensed nurse on the
purpose of administering vecuronium to a client who
has acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDs). Which
of the following statements by the newly licensed
nurse indicates understanding of the teaching?

A. “this medication is given to treat infection.”

B. “this medication is given to facilitate ventilation.”

C. “this medication is given to
decrease inflammation.”

D. “this medication is given to reduce anxiety.”

3. A nurse is reviewing the health records of
five clients. Which of the following clients
are at risk for developing acute respiratory
distress syndrome? (select all that apply.)

A. A client who experienced a near‑drowning incident

B. A client following coronary artery
bypass graft surgery

C. A client who has a hemoglobin of 15.1 mg/dL

D. A client who has dysphagia

E. A client who experienced acute drug toxicity

4. A nurse is planning care for a client who has
severe acute respiratory distress system
(sARs). Which of the following actions should
the nurse include? (select all that apply.)

A. Administer antibiotics.

B. Provide supplemental oxygen.

C. Administer antiviral medications.

D. Administer of bronchodilators.

E. maintain ventilatory support.

5. A nurse is caring for a client who is receiving
vecuronium during mechanical ventilation.
Which of the following medications should
the nurse anticipate administering with this
medication? (select all that apply.)

A. Fentanyl

B. Furosemide

C. midazolam

D. Famotidine

E. Dexamethasone

166 CHAPTER 26 REsPIRAtORY FAILURE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. Obtaining a chest x‑ray to determine the level
of injury to the lungs is important, but is not
the priority action at this time.

B. Preparing the client for chest tube insertion is important
to facilitate lung expansion and restore normal intrapleural
pressure, but is not the priority action at this time.

C. CORRECT: According to the airway, breathing, and
circulation to client care, the nurse should place the
priority on administering oxygen via high‑flow mask
to restore optimal breathing because the client is
experiencing dyspnea and has decreased lung sounds.

D. Initiating Iv access to administer medications is
important, but is not the priority action at this time.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

2. A. Antibiotics are given to treat infection.
B. CORRECT: vecuronium is a neuromuscular

blocking agent given to facilitate ventilation
and decrease oxygen consumption.

C. Corticosteroids are given to treat inflammation.
D. Benzodiazepines are given to treat anxiety.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Expected Actions/Outcomes

3. A. CORRECT: A client who experienced a near‑drowning
incident is at risk for developing ARDs due to
trauma to the lungs and cerebral edema.

B. CORRECT: A client following coronary artery
bypass graft surgery is at risk for developing
ARDs due to trauma to the chest.

C. hemoglobin of 15.1 mg/dL is within the
expected reference range. A client who has a low
hemoglobin is at risk for developing ARDs.

D. CORRECT: A client who has dysphagia is at risk for developing
ARDs due to difficulty swallowing and risk for aspiration.

E. CORRECT: A client who experienced acute drug
toxicity is at risk for developing ARDs due to
damage to the central nervous system.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

4. A. Antibiotics are given to treat bacterial infections.
this would not be indicated for sARs.

B. CORRECT: Providing supplemental oxygen should
be included in the plan of care for sARs. Oxygen
is administered to treat severe hypoxemia.

C. sARs is caused by the coronavirus. there are no
effective antiviral medications to treat this virus.

D. CORRECT: Administration of bronchodilators should be
included in the plan of care for sARs. Bronchodilators
are used to vasodilate the client’s airway.

E. CORRECT: maintaining ventilatory support should
be included in the plan of care for sARs. Intubation
can be required to maintain a patent airway.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

5. A. CORRECT: Fentanyl is a pain medication administered
to clients when a neuromuscular blocking agent,
such as vecuronium, is administered.

B. Furosemide is a diuretic used to release fluid from the body.
C. CORRECT: midazolam is a sedative medication

administered to clients when a neuromuscular blocking
agent, such as vecuronium, is administered.

D. Famotidine is an h2 receptor antagonist given
to treat upset stomach and heartburn.

E. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid used to treat
inflammation, such as arthritis or an immune disorder.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

RISK FACTORS
● Can result from localized lung
damage or from the effects
of other systemic problems

● Aspiration
● Pulmonary emboli
(fat, amniotic fluid)

● Pneumonia and other
pulmonary infections

● sepsis
● Near‑drowning accident
● trauma
● Damage to the central
nervous system

● smoke or toxic gas inhalation
● Drug ingestion/toxicity
(heroin, opioids, salicylates)

NURSING CARE
● maintain a patent airway and monitor respiratory
status every hour as needed.

● suction the client as needed.
● Assess lung sounds.
● Assess and document sputum color, amount, and consistency.
● Oxygenate before suctioning secretions
to prevent further hypoxemia.

● mechanical ventilation often is required. PEEP often is
used to prevent alveolar collapse during expiration.

● monitor for pneumothorax. (A high PEEP
can cause the lungs to collapse.)

● Obtain ABGs as prescribed and following
each ventilator setting adjustment.

● maintain continuous ECG monitoring for changes
that can indicate increased hypoxemia, especially
when repositioning and applying suction.

● Continually monitor vital signs, including saO2.
● Position the client to facilitate ventilation and perfusion.

COMPLICATIONS
● Endotracheal tube

◯ trauma during intubation or long‑term intubation
◯ Can cause damage to trachea and vocal cords
◯ Nursing Actions: Consider a tracheostomy
for long‑term ventilation.

● Aspiration pneumonia nursing actions
◯ Check the cuff on the endotracheal tube for leaks.
◯ Assess suction contents for gastric secretions.
◯ verify NG tube placement.

● Infection nursing actions
◯ Prevent infection by using proper hand
hygiene and suctioning technique.

◯ Assess color, amount, and consistency of secretions.
● Blocked endotracheal tube

◯ the high‑pressure alarm on the ventilator can
indicate a blocked endotracheal tube.

◯ Nursing Actions: suction secretions to relieve a mucous plug
or insert an oral airway to prevent biting on the tube.

● Altered position of endotracheal tube nursing actions
◯ Check tube positioning every 1 to 2 hr and as needed.
◯ Assess breath sounds, saO2, and chest movement.
◯ secure endotracheal tube per institution’s
guidelines to maintain tube placement.

● mechanical ventilation
◯ Increased intrathoracic pressure
◯ PEEP increases intrathoracic pressure, which can
cause a decreased blood return to the heart,
decreased cardiac output and/or hypotension.

◯ Decreased cardiac output can activate the
renin‑angiotensin‑aldosterone system, leading to
fluid retention and/or decreased urine output.

◯ Nursing Actions: monitor input and output,
weight, and hydration status.

◯ Client Education: Avoid using the valsalva maneuver
(straining with bowel movement), because it can
further increase intrathoracic pressure.

● Barotrauma: ventilation with positive pressure causes damage
to the lungs (pneumothorax, subcutaneous emphysema).

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

07/24/15 April 9, 2019 11:28 AM rm_rn_2019_ams_unit4

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING NCLEX® CONNECtIONs 167

NCLEX® Connections

When reviewing the following chapters, keep in mind the
relevant topics and tasks of the NCLEX outline, in particular:

Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
ADVERSE EFFECTS/CONTRAINDICATIONS/SIDE EFFECTS/
INTERACTIONS: Identify a contraindication to the
administration of a medication to the client.

CENTRAL VENOUS ACCESS DEVICES: Provide care
for client with a central venous access device.

PHARMACOLOGICAL PAIN MANAGEMENT: Assess client
need for administration of a PRN pain medication.

Reduction of Risk Potential
CHANGES/ABNORMALITIES IN VITAL SIGNS:
Evaluate invasive monitoring data.

DIAGNOSTIC TESTS
Apply knowledge of related nursing procedures and psychomotor
skills when caring for clients undergoing diagnostic testing.

Perform diagnostic testing.

POTENTIAL FOR COMPLICATIONS OF DIAGNOSTIC
TESTS/TREATMENTS/PROCEDURES: Apply and/
or maintain devices used to promote venous return.

SYSTEM SPECIFIC ASSESSMENTS: Assess the client for
abnormal peripheral pulses after a procedure or treatment.

07/24/15 April 9, 2019 11:28 AM rm_rn_2019_ams_unit4

168 NCLEX® CONNECtIONs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Physiological Adaptation
ALTERATIONS IN BODY SYSTEMS: Assist with invasive procedures.

HEMODYNAMICS
Identify cardiac rhythm strip abnormalities.

Apply knowledge of pathophysiology to interventions
in response to client abnormal hemodynamics.

Manage the are of a client with a pacing device.

ILLNESS MANAGEMENT: Educate client
regarding an acute or chronic condition.

UNEXPECTED RESPONSES TO THERAPIES: Assess the
client for unexpected adverse response to therapy.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs 169

UNIT 4 NURSING CARE OF CLIENTS WHO HAVE
CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 27 Cardiovascular
Diagnostic and
Therapeutic
Procedures

Cardiovascular diagnostic procedures evaluate
the functioning of the heart by monitoring
for enzymes in the blood; using ultrasound
to visualize the heart; determining the heart’s
response to exercise; and using catheters
to determine blood volume, perfusion, fluid
status, how the heart is pumping, and degree of
artery blockage.

Cardiovascular diagnostic procedures that nurses
should be familiar with include cardiac enzymes
and lipid profile, echocardiogram, stress testing,
hemodynamic monitoring, and angiography.
Cardiovascular therapeutic procedures include
central vascular Iv access placement and
percutaneous coronary interventions.

Cardiac enzymes
and lipid profile

Cardiac enzymes are released into the bloodstream when
the heart muscle suffers ischemia.

A lipid profile provides information regarding cholesterol
levels and is used for early detection of heart disease.
Cardiac enzymes are specific markers in diagnosing a
myocardial infarction (MI).

INDICATIONS
● Angina
● MI
● Heart disease
● Hyperlipidemia

CONSIDERATIONS
PREPROCEDURE: Fasting for 12 to 14 hr is recommended
prior to lipid profile sampling.

INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS

27.1 Cardiac enzymes

EXPECTED
REFERENCE
RANGE

ELEVATED LEVELS
FIRST DETECTABLE
FOLLOWING
MYOCARDIAL INJURY

EXPECTED
DURATION
OF ELEVATED
LEVELS

Creatine kinase MB isoenzyme
more sensitive to myocardium

0% of total CK
(30 to 170 units/L) 3 to 6 hr 2 to 3 days

Troponin T
Less than 0.1 ng/mL 2 to 3 hr 10 to 14 days

Troponin I
Less than
0.03 ng/mL 2 to 3 hr 7 to 10 days

Myoglobin
Less than 90 mcg/L 2 to 3 hr 24 hr

27.2 Cardiac tests
EXPECTED
REFERENCE RANGE PURPOSE

Cholesterol (total)
Less than 200 mg/dL screening for heart disease

LDL

Less than 130 mg/dL
“Bad” cholesterol
transports cholesterol to the
body’s cells from the liver

Triglycerides
MALES: 40 to 160 mg/dL
FEMALES: 35 to 135 mg/dL

Evaluates the client’s risk
for heart disease

HDL
FEMALES: greater
than 55 mg/dL
MALES: greater
than 45 mg/dL

“Good” cholesterol
Protects coronary arteries from heart
disease by transporting cholesterol
from the body’s cells to the liver

Transthoracic
echocardiography

A transthoracic echocardiogram is used to diagnose valve
disorders and cardiomyopathy; evaluate the size, shape,
and motion of the structure of the heart; and measure the
ejection fraction.

INDICATIONS
● Cardiomyopathy
● Heart failure
● Angina
● MI

CONSIDERATIONS
PREPROCEDURE: Explain that this is a noninvasive test
and takes up to 1 hr.
INTRAPROCEDURE: Instruct the client to lie on the left
side and remain still.
POSTPROCEDURE: Provider reviews test results and a plan
for follow‑up care with the client.

CHAPTER 27

170 CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Transesophageal
Echocardiography

Transesophageal echocardiography provides clearer
ultrasonic images, because the waves pass through less
tissue. A small transducer is passed through the mouth
and into the esophagus to provide images of the heart.

INDICATIONS
● Heart failure
● Valvular heart disease
● Atrial or ventricular thrombi
● Monitoring during valve replacement and coronary

artery bypass surgeries

CONSIDERATIONS
PREPROCEDURE: Ensure that informed consent has been
signed. Instruct the client to be NPO for 6 hr prior to the
procedure. Insert an IV access.

INTRAPROCEDURE: Monitor the client’s level of
consciousness, ECG, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory
rate, and oxygenation status, as moderate sedation is
needed for the procedure.

POSTPROCEDURE: Monitor the client’s vital signs,
oxygenation status, level of consciousness, and return
of gag reflex (topical anesthetics are used in the throat).
Maintain the head of the bed at 45º.

Stress testing
The client exercises the cardiac muscle by walking on a
treadmill, which is called exercise stress testing. This
provides information regarding the workload of the heart.
The test is discontinued once the heart rate reaches a
certain rate.

Fatigue or disability can prevent traditional exercise
testing or test completion. The provider can prescribe the
test to be done as a pharmacological (chemical) stress test.

INDICATIONS
● Angina
● Heart failure
● MI
● Dysrhythmia

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
● Assist the provider in obtaining a signed informed

consent form.
● Explain to the client that they will be walking on a

treadmill, and comfortable athletic shoes and clothing
are recommended.

◯ If pharmacological stress testing is prescribed, a
medication (dipyridamole, adenosine, regadenoson,
dobutamine) is given to stress the heart instead of
walking on the treadmill.

● Instruct the client to fast 2 to 4 hr before the procedure
according to facility policy and to avoid tobacco, alcohol,
and caffeine before the test.

● Instruct the client to get adequate rest the night before
the procedure.

INtRAPROCEDURE
● Apply a 12‑lead ECG to monitor heart rate during

the test. Monitor for dysrhythmias throughout
the procedure.

● Instruct the client to report any chest pain, shortness of
breath, or dizziness during the procedure.

POstPROCEDURE
● Monitor the client by 12‑lead ECG.
● Check blood pressure frequently until the client is stable.
● The provider reviews findings with the client.

Hemodynamic monitoring
Hemodynamic monitoring involves special indwelling
catheters, which provide information about blood volume and
perfusion, fluid status, and how well the heart is pumping.

● Hemodynamic status is assessed with several parameters.
◯ Central venous pressure (CVP)
◯ Pulmonary artery pressure (PAP)
◯ Pulmonary artery wedge pressure (PAWP)
◯ Cardiac output (CO)
◯ Intra‑arterial blood pressure

● Mixed venous oxygen saturation (SvO2) indicates
the balance between oxygen supply and demand. It
is measured by a pulmonary artery catheter with
fiber optics.

● A hemodynamic monitoring system is used to display a
client’s hemodynamic data.

◯ Pressure transducer
◯ Pressure tubing
◯ Monitor
◯ Pressure bag and flush device

Online Image: Hemodynamic Monitoring

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs 171

● Arterial lines are placed in the radial (most common),
brachial, or femoral artery.

◯ Arterial lines provide continuous information about
changes in blood pressure and permit the withdrawal
of samples of arterial blood. Intra‑arterial pressures
can differ from cuff pressures.

◯ The integrity of the arterial waveform should
be assessed to verify the accuracy of blood
pressure readings.

◯ Monitor circulation in the limb with the arterial line
(capillary refill, temperature, color).

◯ Arterial lines are not used for IV fluid administration.

Pulmonary artery (PA) catheters

The PA catheter is inserted into a large vein (internal
jugular, femoral, subclavian, brachial) and threaded
through the right atria and ventricle into a branch of the PA.

● PA catheters have multiple lumens, ports, and
components that allow for various hemodynamic
measurements, blood sampling, and infusion of IV fluids.

◯ The proximal lumen can be used to measure right
atrial pressure (CVP), infuse IV fluids, and obtain
venous blood samples.

◯ The distal lumen can be used to measure PAPs
(PA systolic, PA diastolic, mean PA pressure, and
PA wedge pressure). This lumen is not used for IV
fluid administration.

◯ The balloon inflation port is intermittently used for
PAWP measurements. When not in use, it should be
left deflated and in the locked position.

◯ The thermistor measures the temperature differences
between the right atrium and the PA in order to
determine CO.

◯ Additional infusion ports can be available, depending
on the brand.

INDICATIONS
● Serious or critical illness
● Heart failure
● Post coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) clients
● ARDS
● Acute kidney injury
● Burn injury
● Trauma injury

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE

Line insertion

NURSING ACTIONS
● Ensure the client’s understanding of the procedure prior

to obtaining signed informed consent form.
● Assemble the pressure monitoring system. Purge air

from the system and maintain sterility of connections.
● Place the client in supine or Trendelenburg position.
● Administer sedation and pain medications as prescribed.
● Level transducer with phlebostatic axis (4th intercostal

space, midaxillary line), which corresponds with the
right atrium.

● Zero system with atmospheric pressure, because the
hemodynamic pressure lines must be calibrated to read
zero atmospheric pressure.

● Obtain initial readings as prescribed. Compare arterial
blood pressure to noninvasive blood pressure (NIBP).

● Document the client’s response.

INtRAPROCEDURE
Monitor for manifestations of altered hemodynamics.

27.3 Manifestations of
altered hemodynamics

Preload Afterload
RIGHT HEART: CvP
LEFT HEART: PAWP

RIGHT HEART: pulmonary
vascular resistance
LEFT HEART: systemic
vascular resistance

ELEVATED DECREASED ELEVATED DECREASED
Crackles in lungs
Jugular vein
distention
hepatomegaly
Peripheral edema
taut skin turgor

Poor skin
turgor
Dry mucous
membranes

Cool
extremities
Weak
peripheral
pulses

Warm
extremities
Bounding
peripheral
pulses

POstPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Obtain chest x‑ray to confirm catheter placement.
● Continually monitor respiratory and cardiac status (vital

signs, heart rhythm, SaO2).
◯ Observe respiratory pattern and effort.
◯ Compare noninvasive blood pressure (NIBP) to arterial

blood pressure.
● Maintain line placement and integrity.

◯ Observe and document waveforms. Report changes
in waveforms to the provider, as this can indicate
catheter migration or displacement.

◯ Document catheter placement each shift and as
needed (after movement for transport).

◯ Monitor and secure connections between pressure
tubing, transducers, and catheter ports.

172 CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

● Obtain readings from hemodynamic catheter.
◯ Place the client in supine position prior to recording

hemodynamic values. Head of bed can be elevated
15° to 30°.

◯ Level the transducer at the phlebostatic axis before
readings and with all position changes.

◯ Zero system to atmospheric pressure.
◯ Compare hemodynamic findings to physical assessment.
◯ Monitor trends in values obtained over time.

INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS

27.4 Hemodynamic
monitoring

EXPECTED
REFERENCE
RANGES

CVP 2 to 6 mm hg
PULMONARY ARTERY SYSTOLIC 15 to 28 mm hg

PULMONARY ARTERY DIASTOLIC 5 to 16 mm hg
PAWP 6 to 15 mm hg

CO 3 to 6 L/min
SVO2 60% to 80%

The intravascular volume in older adult clients is often
reduced. The nurse should anticipate lower hemodynamic
values, particularly if dehydration is a complication.

COMPLICATIONS

Infection/Sepsis

Infection at insertion site can occur if aseptic technique
is not used.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Change dressings per facility protocol and as needed.
● Use surgical aseptic technique with dressing changes

(mask, sterile gloves, maintain sterile field).
● Monitor for evidence of infection (elevated WBC count

or temperature).
● Perform thorough hand hygiene.
● Collect specimens (blood cultures, catheter tip cultures)

and deliver to the laboratory.
● Administer antibiotic therapy as prescribed.
● Administer IV fluids for intravascular support.
● Administer vasopressors for vasodilation secondary

to sepsis.

Embolism

Plaque or a clot can become dislodged during the procedure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use 0.9% sodium chloride for flushing system. Flush can

include heparin and is based on facility protocol.
● Avoid introduction of air into flushing

system to prevent air embolism.
● Recognize the risk of pneumothorax

with insertion of the line.
● Recognize the risk of dysrhythmias with

insertion/movement of the line.

Angiography
Coronary angiography, also called a cardiac catheterization,
is an invasive diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the
presence and degree of coronary artery blockage.

● A renal or liver angiogram, cerebral angiogram, or
upper and lower extremity angiogram can be done to
determine blood flow and areas of possible blockage
of a vessel. Procedural care is the same for any type of
angiography or according to facility protocol.

● Coronary angiography involves the insertion of a catheter
into a femoral, brachial, or radial vessel and threading it
into the right or left side of the heart. Coronary artery
narrowings and/or occlusions are identified by the
injection of contrast media under fluoroscopy.

INDICATIONS
● Unstable angina and ECG changes (T wave inversion,

ST segment elevation, depression).
● Confirm and determine location and extent of

heart disease.

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Maintain NPO status for at least 8 hr due to the risk for
aspiration when lying flat for the procedure.

● Obtain vital signs, auscultate heart and lung sounds,
and assess peripheral pulses.

● Ensure that the consent form is signed.
● Ensure that the client and family understand the procedure.
● Assess for iodine/shellfish allergy (contrast media).
● Assess renal function prior to introduction of

contrast media.
● Administer premedications as prescribed

(methylprednisolone, diphenhydramine).
● If the client takes metformin, ask the provider about

withholding prior to and following the procedure (up to
48 hr). Metformin can cause hypoglycemia or acidosis
when receiving iodine media.

CLIENT EDUCATION:
● A mild sedative will be given to promote relaxation, and

local anesthetic.
● The groin is the most common site used for the

procedure; sensations of warmth or flushing might be
felt when the dye is injected.

● After the procedure, pressure will be held on the access
site. If a vascular closure device is not used, the
extremity must be kept straight for a prescribed amount
of time to prevent bleeding.

Online Image: Cardiac Catheter

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs 173

INtRAPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Administer sedatives and analgesia as prescribed.
● Continually monitor vital signs, heart rhythm, and

chest pain.
● Be prepared to intervene for dysrhythmias.
● Have resuscitation equipment and emergency

medications readily available.

POstPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Assess vital signs every 15 min × 4, every 30 min × 2,
every hour × 4, and then every 4 hr. (Follow
facility protocol.)

● Assess the affected extremity at the same intervals for:
◯ Bleeding and hematoma formation at the
insertion site.

◯ Thrombosis. (Document pedal pulse, extremity color,
and temperature.)

● Maintain bed rest in supine position with extremity
straight for prescribed time.

◯ A vascular closure device can be used to hasten
hemostasis following catheter removal.

◯ Older adult clients can have arthritis, which can make
lying in bed for 4 to 6 hr after the procedure painful.
The provider can prescribe medication.

● Conduct continuous cardiac monitoring for
dysrhythmias. (Reperfusion following angioplasty can
cause dysrhythmias.)

● Administer antiplatelet or thrombolytic agents as
prescribed to prevent clot formation and restenosis.

◯ Aspirin
◯ Clopidogrel (if having percutaneous coronary
intervention [PCI], other antiplatelet medication—
such as ticagrelor, prasugrel, or cangrelor—can be
administered)

◯ Heparin
◯ Low molecular weight heparin (enoxaparin)
◯ GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors, such as eptifibatide

● Administer anxiolytics and analgesics as needed.
● Monitor urine output and administer IV fluids
for hydration.

◯ Contrast media acts as an osmotic diuretic.
● Perform/assist with sheath removal from vessel.

◯ The catheter sheath is a short, hollow tube placed
inside the artery or vein at the insertion site. If
a percutaneous coronary angioplasty (PTCA) is
performed, the sheath is used as a guide for the
balloon catheter. After the PTCA, the catheter sheath
can be left in for access, if the PTCA would need to
be repeated.

◯ Apply pressure to arterial/venous sites for the
prescribed period of time (varies depending
upon the method used for vessel closure).

◯ Observe for vagal response (hypotension,
bradycardia) from compression of nerves.

◯ Apply pressure dressing.
◯ Withhold administration of metformin for 48 hr after
angiography to prevent lactic acidosis and possible
acute kidney injury.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Leave the dressing in place for the first 24 hr following

discharge.
● Avoid strenuous exercise for the prescribed period of time.
● Immediately report bleeding from the insertion site,

chest pain, shortness of breath, and changes in the color
or temperature of the extremity.

● Restrict lifting to less than 10 lb (4.5 kg), bending at the
waist, or straining for at least 24 hr or for the prescribed
period of time if the groin was used for access. Restrict
lifting to 5 lb or less if a vessel in the arm or wrist was
used for at least 48 hr or for the prescribed period of time.

● Resume metformin as prescribed.

If a having a stent placement
● Take antiplatelet therapy as prescribed, which can be for

up to 12 months.
◯ Take the medication at the same time each day.
◯ Have regular laboratory tests to determine
therapeutic levels.

◯ Avoid activities that could cause bleeding. (Use soft
toothbrush. Wear shoes when out of bed.)

● Follow lifestyle guidelines. (Manage weight. Consume
a low‑fat/low‑sodium diet. Exercise regularly. Stop
smoking. Decrease alcohol intake.)

COMPLICATIONS

Artery dissection
● Perforation of an artery by the catheter can cause

cardiac tamponade or require emergency coronary
artery bypass surgery.

● Findings include severe hypotension and tachycardia,
and might require extended occlusion or perforation
with a balloon catheter and reversal of anticoagulants.

27.5 Cardiac catheters

174 CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Cardiac tamponade

Cardiac tamponade can result from fluid accumulation in
the pericardial sac.

● Manifestations include hypotension, jugular venous
distention, muffled heart sounds, and paradoxical
pulse (variance of 10 mm Hg or more in systolic blood
pressure between expiration and inspiration).

● Hemodynamic monitoring reveals intracardiac and PAPs
are similar and elevated (plateau pressures).

NURSING ACTIONS
● Notify the provider immediately.
● Administer IV fluids to combat hypotension.
● Obtain a chest x‑ray or echocardiogram

to confirm diagnosis.
● Prepare the client for pericardiocentesis.

(Verify informed consent. Gather materials.
Administer medications as appropriate.)

● Monitor hemodynamic pressures.
● Monitor heart rhythm. Changes indicate

improper positioning of the needle.
● Monitor for reoccurrence of manifestations

after the procedure.
● Monitor for dyspnea, and provide oxygen as indicated.

Hematoma formation

Blood clots can form near the insertion site.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for sensation, color, capillary refill, and peripheral

pulses in the extremity distal to the insertion site.
● Assess the groin at prescribed intervals and as needed.
● Hold pressure for uncontrolled oozing/bleeding.
● Monitor peripheral circulation.
● Notify the provider.

Allergic reaction related to the contrast media

Manifestations can include chills, fever, rash, wheezing,
tachycardia, and bradycardia.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for an allergic reaction.
● Have resuscitation equipment readily available.
● Administer diphenhydramine or epinephrine if prescribed.

External bleeding at the insertion site

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor insertion site for bleeding or swelling.
● Apply pressure to site.
● Keep client’s leg or arm straight.

Embolism

Plaque or a clot can become dislodged.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for chest pain during and after the procedure.
● Monitor vital signs and SaO2.

Restenosis of treated vessel

Clot reformation in the coronary artery can occur
immediately or several weeks after procedure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess ECG patterns and for occurrence of chest pain.
● Notify the provider immediately.
● Prepare the client for return to the cardiac

catheterization laboratory.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Notify the provider of cardiac
manifestations, and take medications as prescribed.

Retroperitoneal bleeding

Bleeding into retroperitoneal space (abdominal cavity
behind the peritoneum) can occur due to femoral
artery puncture.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for flank pain and hypotension.
● Notify the provider immediately and hold firm pressure

at the puncture site.
● Administer IV fluids and blood products as prescribed.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Keep the leg straight.
● Report chest pain, shortness of breath, and

cardiac manifestations.

Acute kidney injury

Damage to the kidney can result from use of contrast
agent, which is nephrotoxic.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor urine output, BUN, and blood creatinine and

electrolyte levels.
● Promote adequate hydration (oral, IV).

Vascular access
The site and type of vascular access device (VAD) is
determined by the characteristics of the prescribed
therapy (medication type, pH and osmolality, length of
time for therapy). The goal is to minimize the number of
catheter insertions and the risk for adverse reactions.

Central intravenous therapy
● Central IV catheters are appropriate for any fluids due to

rapid hemodilution in the superior vena cava (SVC).
● Ensure x‑ray verification of tip placement prior to use.
● Central IV catheters are inserted using sterile technique

by a provider, physician assistant, or specifically trained
nurses. Insertion occurs in the OR, the client’s room, or
in an outpatient facility.

● Tunneled and implanted catheters require
surgical removal.

● Central IV catheter types include nontunneled
percutaneous central venous catheters, peripherally
inserted central catheters, tunneled central venous
catheters (Hickman, Groshong), and implanted ports.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs 175

Nontunneled percutaneous central venous catheter (CVC)
● Description: 18 to 25 cm (7 to 10 in) in length with one

to five lumens
● Length of use: short‑term use only
● Insertion location: subclavian vein, jugular vein; tip in

the distal third of the superior vena cava
● Indications: administration of blood, long‑term

administration of chemotherapeutic agents, antibiotics,
and total parenteral nutrition

Tunneled percutaneous central venous catheter
● For long‑term use.
● Insertion location: A portion of the catheter lies in a

subcutaneous tunnel separating the point where the
catheter enters the vein from where it enters the skin
with a cuff. Tissue granulates into the cuff to provide a
mechanical barrier to organisms and an anchoring for
the catheter.

● Indications: Frequent and long‑term need for
vascular access.

● No dressing is needed because entrance into skin and
vein are separate and tissue granulates into catheter
cuff, providing a barrier. Groshong catheters have
pressure‑sensitive valves to prevent blood reflux and do
not require a clamp.

Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC)
● Description: 45 to 74 cm (18 to 29 in) with single or

multiple lumens
● Length of use: up to 12 months
● Insertion location: basilic or cephalic vein at least one

fingerbreadth below or above the antecubital fossa. The
catheter should be advanced until the tip is positioned
in the lower one‑third of the SVC.

● Indications: administration of blood, long‑term
administration of chemotherapeutic agents, antibiotics,
and total parenteral nutrition

● When possible, insert a PICC early in the
course of therapy before veins are exposed to
repeated venipunctures.

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
● Ensure informed consent has been signed.
● Cleanse the site with chlorhexidine.
● Ensure sterility of equipment.
● Place a STOP sign on the door to the room to restrict

entry during the procedure.

POstPROCEDURE
● Confirm placement of the PICC with an x‑ray.
● Assess the site for redness, swelling, drainage,

tenderness, and condition of the dressing.
● Clean the insertion port with alcohol for 15 seconds and

allow it to dry completely prior to accessing it. Valve
disinfection caps which contain alcohol are available for
single use.

● Use transparent dressing to allow for visualization.
Follow facility protocol for dressing changes, usually
every 7 days and when indicated (wet, loose, soiled).

● Advise the client not to immerse the arm in water. To
shower, cover dressing site to avoid water exposure.

● Educate the client not to have venipuncture or blood
pressure taken in arm with PICC line.

● Follow the Infusion Nurses Society (INS) practice
recommendations for flushing.

◯ Use a 10 mL syringe for flushing the PICC line. Do not
apply force if resistance is met.

◯ Flush with 10 mL 0.9% sodium chloride before,
between, and after medications.

◯ Flush with 20 mL 0.9% sodium chloride after
drawing blood.

◯ Flush with 5 mL heparin (10 units/mL) when the
PICC is not actively in use. The frequency of the flush
depends on the type of PICC.

Implanted port
● Description: Port is comprised of a small reservoir

covered by a thick septum.
● Insertion location: Port is surgically implanted into

chest wall pocket. The catheter is inserted into the
subclavian vein with the tip in the SVC.

● Indications: Long‑term (1 year or more) need for
vascular access; commonly used for chemotherapy.

● Only specifically trained personnel wearing a mask and
aseptic technique should access implanted ports.

◯ Apply topical anesthetic cream to skin if indicated.
Palpate skin to locate the port body septum to ensure
proper insertion of the needle.

◯ Access with a noncoring (Huber) needle.
◯ Check for blood return prior to medication
administration to confirm patency and placement.

◯ Flush with 5 mL heparin 100 units/mL after every use
and at least once per month (INS recommendation).

COMPLICATIONS

Phlebitis

Phlebitis is a common complication of PICCs and can be
chemical (osmolarity or pH is different, veins too small
for substance), bacterial, or mechanical irritation (excess
IV manipulation).

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for findings.

◯ Erythema at the site (usual initial indication)
◯ Pain or burning at the site and the length of the vein
◯ Discomfort when the skin over the tip is palpated
◯ Warmth over the site
◯ Edema at the site
◯ Vein indurated (hard), red streak, and/or cordlike
◯ Slowing infusion rate
◯ Temperature elevation of 1° F or more
◯ Infection appearing 7 to 10 days after insertion

176 CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

● Take preventive measures.
◯ Practice hand hygiene before working with a CVC.
◯ Observe the site every 2 hr for infection or infiltration.
◯ Nontunneled catheters require an intact sterile
dressing (tunneled catheters do not).

◯ Clean the site with chlorhexidine for 30 seconds and
allow to air dry prior to insertion.

Occlusion

Occlusion is a blockage in the central IV catheter that
impedes flow. Thrombosis/emboli can coagulate and cause
an occlusion.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Flush the line according to INS recommendations or

facility policy.
● Do not force fluid if resistance is encountered (can

dislodge thrombosis).
● Use a 10 mL to avoid excess pressure per square inch

that could cause catheter fracture/rupture.

Mechanical complications

Implanted ports can have the catheter tip and port
become dislodged.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use only a noncoring (Huber) needle to avoid damaging

the mesh on implanted ports.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Manifestations of a dislodged port include swelling at

the port site, unrestricted movement of the port, and
inability to access the port. Report findings to the
provider immediately.

● Manifestations of a dislodged catheter tip include
gurgling or swishing sounds, and pain on the affected
side in the neck or ear. Report findings to the provider
immediately.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is orienting a newly licensed nurse on the care
of a client who is to have a line placed for hemodynamic
monitoring. Which of the following statements by
the newly licensed nurse indicates understanding?

A. “Air should be instilled into the monitoring
system prior to the procedure.”

B. “the client should be positioned on the
left side during the procedure.”

C. “the transducer should be level with the second
intercostal space after the line is placed.”

D. “A chest x‑ray is needed to verify
placement after the procedure.”

2. A nurse is assessing a client who is undergoing
hemodynamic monitoring. the client has a CvP of 7 mm
hg and a PAWP of 17 mm hg. Which of the following
findings should the nurse expect? (select all that apply.)

A. Poor skin turgor
B. Bilateral crackles in the lungs
C. Jugular vein distension
D. Dry mucous membranes
E. hepatomegaly

3. A nurse is teaching a client who is scheduled for
coronary angiography. Which of the following
statements should the nurse include?

A. “You should have nothing to eat or drink
for 4 hours prior to the procedure.”

B. “You will be given general anesthesia
during the procedure.”

C. “You should not have this procedure
done if you are allergic to eggs.”

D. “You will need to keep your affected leg
straight following the procedure.”

4. A nurse at a provider’s office is reviewing the laboratory
test results for a group of clients. the nurse should
identify that which of the following results indicates the
client is at risk for heart disease? (select all that apply.)

A. Cholesterol (total) 245 mg/dL
B. hDL 90 mg/dL
C. LDL 140 mg/dL
D. triglycerides 125 mg/dL
E. troponin I 0.02 ng/mL

5. A nurse is planning care for a client who has a PICC line
in the right arm. Which of the following interventions
should the nurse include? (select all that apply.)

A. Use a 10 mL syringe to flush the PICC line.
B. Apply gentle force if resistance

is met during injection.
C. Cleanse ports with alcohol for

15 seconds prior to use.
D. maintain a transparent dressing

over the insertion site.
E. Flush with 10 mL heparin before and

after medication administration.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is reviewing the plan of care for a client
who is scheduled for a cardiac exercise stress test.
What information should the nurse include in the
review? Use the AtI Active Learning template:
Diagnostic Procedure to complete this item.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROCEDURE

INDICATIONS: List at least two.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST)
● Describe at least four preprocedure actions.
● Describe at least two intraprocedure actions.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs 177

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Diagnostic Procedure

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROCEDURE: During a cardiac exercise
stress test, the cardiac muscle is exercised by walking on a treadmill.
this provides information regarding the workload of the heart.

INDICATIONS
● Angina
● heart failure
● myocardial infarction
● Dysrhythmia

NURSING ACTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST)

Preprocedure
● Ensure that a signed informed consent form is obtained.
● Explain to the client that they will walk on a treadmill.
Comfortable athletic shoes and clothing are recommended.

● Explain that a pharmacological stress test can be prescribed if
the client cannot walk on the treadmill and complete the test. A
medication (dipyridamole, adenosine, dobutamine) is administered
to stress the heart instead of walking on the treadmill.

● Instruct the client to fast 2 to 4 hr before the
procedure or according to facility policy and to avoid
tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine before the test.

● Instruct the client to get adequate rest the night before the test.

Intraprocedure
● monitor heart rate and rhythm with a 12‑lead ECG during the test.
● Instruct the client to report any chest pain, shortness
of breath, or dizziness during the test.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

Application Exercises Key

1. A. Purge air from, rather than instill air into,
the monitoring system.

B. Place the client in the supine or trendelenburg position.
C. For hemodynamic monitoring, place the

transducer level with the 4th intercostal space,
which is at the base of the right atrium.

D. CORRECT: Ensure that a chest x‑ray is obtained to confirm
proper placement of the lines following placement.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

2. A. the client’s CvP and PAWP are above the expected
reference range. Expect the client to have poor skin
turgor for a decreased CvP and PAWP.

B. CORRECT: Expect the client to have bilateral crackles
in the lungs for an increased CvP and PAWP.

C. CORRECT: Expect the client to have jugular vein
distension for an increased CvP and PAWP.

D. Expect the client to have dry mucous membranes
for a decreased CvP and PAWP.

E. CORRECT: Expect the client to have hepatomegaly
for an increased CvP and PAWP.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

3. A. Instruct the client to remain NPO for at least 8 hr prior
to the procedure to decrease the risk for aspiration
while lying flat during the angiography.

B. Instruct the client that they are awake and sedated
during the procedure and that a local anesthetic
is used at the catheter insertion site.

C. Assess the client for an allergy to iodine/shellfish
due to the use of contrast dye. An allergy to eggs
is not a contraindication to angiography.

D. CORRECT: Instruct the client of the need to remain
on bed rest in the supine position with the affected
leg straight for a prescribed amount of time. this
positioning decreases the client’s risk for bleeding and
hematoma formation at the catheter insertion site.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

4. A. CORRECT: A client who has a total cholesterol level greater
than 200 mg/dL is at increased risk for heart disease.

B. An hDL level greater than 55 mg/dL for a female
client or greater than 45 mg/dL for a male client
decreases the client’s risk for heart disease.

C. CORRECT: A client who has an LDL level greater than
130 mg/dL is at increased risk for heart disease.

D. A triglyceride level between 35 and 135 mg/dL for a
female client or 40 and 160 mg/dL for a male client
is within the expected reference range and does not
indicate an increased risk for heart disease.

E. troponin I level is monitored to detect cardiac injury
due to an mI rather than to identify a client’s risk for
heart disease. A troponin I level less than 0.03 ng/
mL is within the expected reference range.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Laboratory Values

5. A. CORRECT: Use a 10 mL syringe to flush the
PICC line to avoid excess pressure that could
cause catheter fracture/rupture.

B. Avoid the application of force if resistance
is met during injection.

C. CORRECT: Cleanse insertion ports with alcohol for 15
seconds and allow it to air dry prior to use. this action
decreases the risk for bacterial contamination.

D. CORRECT: maintain a transparent dressing over the
insertion site to decrease the risk for infection and
allow for visualization. Plan to change the dressing at
least every 7 days and when wet, loose, or soiled.

E. Flush the PICC line with 10 mL 0.9% sodium chloride
before, between, and after medications. A flush
of 5 mL heparin (10 units/mL) is recommended
when the PICC is not actively in use.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Hemodynamics

178 CHAPTER 27 CARDIOvAsCULAR DIAGNOstIC AND thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 28 ELECtROCARDIOGRAPhY AND DYsRhYthmIA mONItORING 179

UNIT 4 NURSING CARE OF CLIENTS WHO HAVE
CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 28 Electrocardiography
and Dysrhythmia
Monitoring

Cardiac electrical activity can be monitored
by using an electrocardiogram (ECG). the
heart’s electrical activity can be monitored by a
standard 12‑lead ECG (resting ECG), ambulatory
ECG (holter monitoring), continuous cardiac
monitoring, or by telemetry.

Cardiac monitoring is used to diagnose
dysrhythmias, chamber enlargement, myocardial
ischemia, injury, or infarction and to monitor
the effects of electrolyte imbalances or
medication administration.

Cardiac dysrhythmias are heartbeat
disturbances (beat formation, beat conduction,
or myocardial response to beat).

Nurses should be familiar with cardioversion and
defibrillation procedures for treating
dysrhythmias. (28.1)

Electrocardiography
Electrocardiography uses an electrocardiograph to
record the electrical activity of the heart over time. The
electrocardiograph is connected by wires (leads) to skin
electrodes placed on the chest and limbs of a client.

● Continuous cardiac monitoring requires the client to be
in close proximity to the monitoring system.

● Telemetry allows the client to ambulate while
maintaining proximity to the monitoring system.

● Inform clients receiving continuous ECG monitoring
that the monitoring will not detect shortness of breath,
chest pain, or other manifestations of acute coronary
syndrome. The client should be instructed to report new
or worsening manifestations.

CHAPTER 28

Online Image: ECG Strip

28.1 ECG strip

180 CHAPTER 28 ELECtROCARDIOGRAPhY AND DYsRhYthmIA mONItORING CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

INDICATIONS
Dysrhythmias

● Sinus bradycardia and tachycardia
● Atrioventricular (AV) blocks
● Atrial fibrillation
● Ventricular asystole
● Premature atrial complexes (PACs) and premature

ventricular complexes (PVCs)
● Supraventricular tachycardia
● Ventricular tachycardia
● Ventricular fibrillation

CLIENt PREsENtAtION
● Cardiovascular disease
● Myocardial infarction (MI)
● Hypoxia
● Acid‑base imbalances
● Electrolyte disturbances
● Kidney failure, liver, or lung disease
● Pericarditis
● Drug or alcohol use
● Hypovolemia
● Shock

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS
Prepare the client for a 12‑lead ECG, if prescribed. (28.2)

● Position the client in a supine position with
chest exposed.

● Wash the client’s skin to remove oils.
● If the area on which the electrode is to be placed has

hair on it, clip — do not shave — the area to provide
skin adherence and electrical conduction.

● Attach one electrode to each of the client’s extremities by
applying electrodes to flat surfaces above the wrists and
ankles and the other six electrodes to the chest, avoiding
chest hair. (Chest hair can be clipped if needed.)

INtRAPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for manifestations of
dysrhythmia (chest pain, decreased level of consciousness,
shortness of breath) and hypoxia.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Remain still and breathe normally
while the 12‑lead ECG is performed.

POstPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Remove leads from the client, print the ECG report, and
notify the provider.

● Apply a Holter monitor if the client is on a telemetry
unit and/or needs continuous cardiac monitoring.

● Continue to monitor the client for dysrhythmia.

● To conduct a rhythm analysis, perform the following steps.
◯ Determine the heart rate.
◯ Determine whether the heart rhythm is regular
or irregular.

◯ Analyze the P waves for regularity and shape.
◯ Measure the PR interval for consistency (0.12 to
0.20 seconds).

◯ Measure the QRS duration and for consistency
in appearance.

◯ Examine the ST segment. Depression or elevation
is unexpected.

◯ Assess the T wave.
◯ Measure the QT interval.

Dysrhythmias
● Dysrhythmias are classified by the following:

◯ Site of origin: sinoatrial (SA) node, atria,
atrioventricular (AV) node, or ventricle

■ Electrophysiological study is performed to
determine the area of the heart causing the
dysrhythmia. Ablation of the area is possible.

◯ Effect on the rate and rhythm of the heart:
bradycardia, tachycardia, heart block, premature beat,
flutter, fibrillation, or asystole

● Dysrhythmias can be benign or life‑threatening.
● The life‑threatening effects of dysrhythmias are

generally related to decreased cardiac output and
ineffective tissue perfusion.

● Cardiac dysrhythmias are a primary cause of death
in clients suffering acute MI and other sudden death
disorders.

● Rapid recognition and treatment of serious dysrhythmias is
essential to preserve life. Treatment is based on the cardiac
rhythm, which can require cardioversion, defibrillation or
pacemaker insertion, and/or medications. (28.4)

● Findings of a dysrhythmia in older adults might be
present only with increased activity.

Online Images: Atrial Fibrillation, Premature Atrial Complexes
(PACs), Premature Ventricular Complexes
(PVCs), Ventricular TachycardiaOnline Image: ECG Lead Placement

28.2 ECG lead placement

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 28 ELECtROCARDIOGRAPhY AND DYsRhYthmIA mONItORING 181

● Risks for heart disease, hypertension,
dysrhythmias, and atherosclerosis
increase with age.

● Treatment of dysrhythmias follows
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
evidence‑based protocols. See CHAPTER

2: EMERGENCY NURSING PRINCIPLES AND

MANAGEMENT for further
information.

Cardioversion and
defibrillation

Cardioversion is the delivery of a direct
countershock to the heart synchronized
to the QRS complex. Defibrillation is the
delivery of an unsynchronized, direct
countershock to the heart. Defibrillation
stops all electrical activity of the heart,
allowing the SA node to take over and
reestablish a perfusing rhythm.

INDICATIONS
Cardioversion: Elective treatment of
atrial dysrhythmias, supraventricular
tachycardia, and ventricular tachycardia
with a pulse. Cardioversion is the
treatment of choice for clients who are
symptomatic.

Defibrillation: Ventricular fibrillation or
pulseless ventricular tachycardia.

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
Clients who have atrial fibrillation
of unknown duration must receive
adequate anticoagulation for 4 to 6
weeks prior to cardioversion therapy to
prevent dislodgement of thrombi into the
bloodstream.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Explain the procedure to the client, and
obtain consent.

● Administer oxygen.
● Document preprocedure rhythm.
● Have emergency equipment available.
● Digoxin is held for 48 hr prior to
elective cardioversion.

INDICATIONS
Dysrhythmias

● Sinus bradycardia and tachycardia
● Atrioventricular (AV) blocks
● Atrial fibrillation
● Ventricular asystole
● Premature atrial complexes (PACs) and premature

ventricular complexes (PVCs)
● Supraventricular tachycardia
● Ventricular tachycardia
● Ventricular fibrillation

CLIENt PREsENtAtION
● Cardiovascular disease
● Myocardial infarction (MI)
● Hypoxia
● Acid‑base imbalances
● Electrolyte disturbances
● Kidney failure, liver, or lung disease
● Pericarditis
● Drug or alcohol use
● Hypovolemia
● Shock

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS
Prepare the client for a 12‑lead ECG, if prescribed. (28.2)

● Position the client in a supine position with
chest exposed.

● Wash the client’s skin to remove oils.
● If the area on which the electrode is to be placed has

hair on it, clip — do not shave — the area to provide
skin adherence and electrical conduction.

● Attach one electrode to each of the client’s extremities by
applying electrodes to flat surfaces above the wrists and
ankles and the other six electrodes to the chest, avoiding
chest hair. (Chest hair can be clipped if needed.)

INtRAPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for manifestations of
dysrhythmia (chest pain, decreased level of consciousness,
shortness of breath) and hypoxia.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Remain still and breathe normally
while the 12‑lead ECG is performed.

POstPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Remove leads from the client, print the ECG report, and
notify the provider.

● Apply a Holter monitor if the client is on a telemetry
unit and/or needs continuous cardiac monitoring.

● Continue to monitor the client for dysrhythmia.

Online Images: Atrial Fibrillation, Premature Atrial Complexes
(PACs), Premature Ventricular Complexes
(PVCs), Ventricular TachycardiaOnline Image: ECG Lead Placement

28.3 Dysrhythmias

ATRIAL FIBRILLATION

PREMATURE ATRIAL COMPLEXES

PREMATURE VENTRICULAR COMPLEXES

VENTRICULAR TACHYCARDIA

28.4 Dysrhythmia treatments

MEDICATION
ELECTRICAL
MANAGEMENT

Bradycardia
(any rhythm less than 60/min)

treat if the client is symptomatic

Atropine;
dopamine or
epinephrine
infusion if
unresponsive
to atropine

Pacemaker

Atrial fibrillation
Supraventricular tachycardia

Ventricular tachycardia with pulse

Amiodarone,
adenosine,
and verapamil

synchronized
cardioversion

Ventricular tachycardia without
pulse or ventricular fibrillation

Amiodarone,
lidocaine, and
epinephrine

Defibrillation

182 CHAPTER 28 ELECtROCARDIOGRAPhY AND DYsRhYthmIA mONItORING CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

INtRAPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Administer sedation as prescribed.
● Ensure proper placement of leads and machine settings,

including joules to be delivered.
● Monitor the client in a lead that provides an upright

QRS complex.
● All staff must stand clear of the client, equipment

connected to the client, and the bed when a shock
is delivered.

● Cardioversion requires activation of the synchronizer
button in addition to charging the machine. This allows
the shock to be in sync with the client’s underlying
rhythm. Failure to synchronize can lead to development
of a lethal dysrhythmia, such as ventricular fibrillation.

● Perform CPR for cardiac asystole or other
pulseless rhythms.

● Defibrillate the client immediately for
ventricular fibrillation.

● Administer a prescribed antidysrhythmic agent or other
prescribed medications.

● Monitor the client for pulmonary or systemic emboli
following cardioversion.

POstPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● After cardioversion or defibrillation, monitor vital signs,
assess airway patency, and obtain an ECG.

● Provide the client/family with reassurance and
emotional support.

● Document the following:
◯ Postprocedure rhythm
◯ Number of defibrillation or cardioversion attempts,
energy settings, time, and response

◯ The client’s condition and state of consciousness
following the procedure

◯ Skin condition under the electrodes

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Follow instructions on checking your pulse.
● Report palpitations or irregularities.

COMPLICATIONS

Embolism

Cardioversion can dislodge blood clots, potentially causing:
● A pulmonary embolism (evidenced by dyspnea, chest

pain, air hunger, and decreasing SaO2).

● A cerebrovascular accident (evidenced by decreased level
of consciousness, slurred speech, and muscle weakness/
paralysis)

● An MI (evidenced by chest pain and ST segment
depression or elevation)

NURSING ACTIONS: Provide therapeutic anticoagulation
for clients who have dysrhythmias.

Decreased cardiac output and heart failure

Cardioversion might damage heart tissue and impair
heart function.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for manifestations of decreased cardiac

output (hypotension, syncope, increased heart rate)
and heart failure (dyspnea, productive cough, edema,
venous distention).

● Provide medications to increase output (inotropic
agents) and to decrease cardiac workload.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 28 ELECtROCARDIOGRAPhY AND DYsRhYthmIA mONItORING 183

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse educator is reviewing electrocardiography with
a group of nurses. What information should be included
in this discussion? Use the AtI Active Learning template:
therapeutic Procedure to complete this item.

DESCRIPTION OF PROCEDURE: Describe
electrocardiography and describe the difference between
continuous cardiac monitoring and telemetry.

INDICATIONS: List four dysrhythmias that can be identified.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA,
POST): Identify at least two preprocedure, one
intraprocedure, and two postprocedure.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse on a cardiac unit is caring for a group of
clients. the nurse should recognize which of the
following clients as being at risk for the development
of a dysrhythmia? (select all that apply.)

A. A client who has metabolic alkalosis

B. A client who has a blood potassium
level of 4.3 mEq/L

C. A client who has an saO2 of 96%

D. A client who has COPD

E. A client who underwent stent
placement in a coronary artery

2. A nurse is reviewing the medical record of a
client who is to undergo a scheduled electrical
cardioversion. For which of the following findings
should the nurse notify the provider? (Review the
data below for additional client information.)

MAR

Ferrous sulfate 200 mg PO 0800 and 2000

Diazepam 2 mg PO 0800 and 2000

Isosorbide 2.5 mg PO 4 times a day AC and hs

VITAL SIGNS

0800

t 99° F (37.2° C)

Blood pressure 142/86 mm hg

heart rate 88/min and irregular

Respirations 20/min

HISTORY AND PHYSICAL

Bariatric surgery 10 years ago

Dyspnea with exertion for 3 years

Atrial fibrillation began 3 years ago

Client reports taking the following medications
for the past 6 weeks: iron supplement,
multivitamin, antilipemic, and nitroglycerin

A. Respiratory history

B. vital signs

C. medication history

D. medications to be administered

3. A nurse is caring for a client who experienced
defibrillation. Which of the following should
be included in the documentation of this
procedure? (select all that apply.)

A. Follow‑up ECG

B. Energy settings used

C. Iv fluid intake

D. Urinary output

E. skin condition under electrodes

4. A nurse on a cardiac unit is caring for a client who is on
telemetry. the nurse recognizes the client’s heart rate is
46/min and notifies the provider. Which of the following
prescriptions might be appropriate for this client?

A. Defibrillation

B. Pacemaker insertion

C. synchronized cardioversion

D. Administration of Iv lidocaine

5. A newly licensed nurse is observing a cardioversion
procedure and hears the team leader call out,
“stand clear.” this statement indicates which
of the following events is occurring?

A. the cardioverter is being charged
to the appropriate setting.

B. the team should initiate CPR due to
pulseless electrical activity.

C. team members cannot be in contact with
equipment connected to the client.

D. A time‑out is being called to
verify correct protocols.

184 CHAPTER 28 ELECtROCARDIOGRAPhY AND DYsRhYthmIA mONItORING CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: A client who has an acid‑base imbalance such
as metabolic alkalosis is at risk for a dysrhythmia.

B. A blood potassium of 4.3 mEq/L is within
the expected reference range and does not
increase the risk of a dysrhythmia.

C. saO2 of 96% is within the expected reference range
and does not increase the risk of a dysrhythmia.

D. CORRECT: A client who has lung disease, such
as COPD, is at risk for a dysrhythmia.

E. CORRECT: A client who has cardiac disease and underwent
a stent placement is at risk for a dysrhythmia.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

2. A. Client who have a dysrhythmia often have a
history of lung disease, which can make them
candidates for cardioversion.

B. Client who have a dysrhythmia might have an irregular pulse,
which can make them candidates for cardioversion.

C. CORRECT: Because the client has a history of atrial
fibrillation, it is recommended the client take anticoagulant
therapy for 4 to 6 weeks prior to cardioversion to
prevent clot dislodgement. the nurse should contact
the provider regarding this safety concern.

D. Client who have a dysrhythmia often have a
history of cardiac disease and angina, which can
make them candidates for cardioversion.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

3. A. CORRECT: the client’s ECG rhythm is
documented following the procedure.

B. CORRECT: Energy settings used during
the procedure are documented.

C. Iv fluid intake is not documented during defibrillation.
D. Urinary output is not documented during defibrillation.
E. CORRECT: the condition of the client’s skin where

electrodes were placed is documented.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

4. A. Defibrillation is used when a client has ventricular
fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia.

B. CORRECT: A client who has bradycardia is a candidate
for a pacemaker to increase his heart rate.

C. synchronized cardioversion is used when a client has a
dysrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation, supraventricular
tachycardia (svt), or ventricular tachycardia with pulse.

D. the administration of Iv lidocaine is used in clients
who have a pulseless ventricular dysrhythmia
to stimulate cardiac electrical function.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Hemodynamics

5. A. the cardioverter is charged prior to the delivery
of the shock during cardioversion.

B. the team leader calls out “Initiate CPR” when
members of the team are to begin CPR.

C. CORRECT: A safety concern for personnel performing
cardioversion is to “stand clear” of the client and
equipment connected to the client when a shock is
delivered to prevent them from also receiving a shock.

D. A “time‑out” is called by personnel during a procedure
to verify that proper protocols are being followed.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Hemodynamics

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: Therapeutic Procedure

DESCRIPTION OF PROCEDURE
● Electrocardiography is the use of an electrocardiograph to record
the electrical activity of the heart over time by connecting wires
(leads) to skin electrodes placed on the chest and limbs of the client.

● Continuous monitoring requires the client to be in close proximity
to the monitoring system. telemetry allows the client to ambulate.

INDICATIONS
● sinus bradycardia and tachycardia
● Atrioventricular (Av) blocks
● Atrial fibrillation
● supraventricular tachycardia
● ventricular fibrillation
● ventricular asystole
● Premature ventricular complexes (PvCs)
● Premature atrial complexes (PACs)

NURSING INTERVENTIONS (PRE, INTRA, POST)

Preprocedure
● Position the client in a supine position with chest exposed.
● Wash the skin to remove oils.
● Attach one electrode to each of the client’s extremities by
applying electrodes to flat surfaces above the wrists and
ankles and the other six electrodes to the chest, avoiding
chest hair, which can be clipped on male clients.

Intraprocedure
● Instruct the client to remain still and breathe normally.
● monitor for manifestations of dysrhythmia (chest pain, decreased
level of consciousness, shortness of breath) and hypoxia.

Postprocedure
● Remove leads, print ECG report, and notify the provider.
● Apply holter monitor if the client is on the telemetry
unit and/or needs continuous monitoring.

● Continue monitoring for manifestations of dysrhythmia and hypoxia.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 29 PACEmAKERs AND ImPLANtABLE CARDIOvERtER/DEFIBRILLAtORs 185

UNIT 4 NURSING CARE OF CLIENTS WHO HAVE
CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 29 Pacemakers
and Implantable
Cardioverter/
Defibrillators

An artificial pacemaker is a battery‑operated
device that electrically stimulates the heart when
the natural pacemaker of the heart fails to
maintain an acceptable rhythm.

Pacemakers can be temporary or permanent
and are composed of two parts. the pulse
generator houses the energy source (battery)
and the control center. the electrodes are wires
that attach to the myocardial muscle on one side
and connect to the pulse generator on the other.

Nurses should be familiar with the various types
of pacemakers, how they function, and the care
involved with their placement/insertion.

Conduction of electrical impulses through the
sinoatrial (sA) node can be slowed with aging,
causing bradycardia and conduction defects.

When a pacing stimulus is delivered to the
heart, a pacer spike (or pacemaker artifact) will
be seen on a cardiac monitor or ECG strip. the
pacer spike, a vertical line, should be followed
by a P wave (atrial pacing) or QRs complex
(ventricular pacing).

An implantable cardioverter/defibrillator (ICD)
monitors for life‑threatening changes in cardiac
rhythm and automatically delivers an electrical
shock directly to the heart in an attempt
to restore a normal rhythm. An ICD can be
programmed to deliver a shock and has pacing
capabilities.

Types of pacemakers
tEmPORARY PACEmAKERs
The energy source is provided by an external battery pack.

External (transcutaneous)
● Pacing energy is delivered transcutaneously through

the thoracic musculature to the heart via two electrode
patches placed on the skin.

● It requires large amounts of electricity, which can be
painful for a client.

● Transcutaneous pacing is used when a symptomatic
bradycardia is unresponsive to atropine or other
medications used to increase heart rate.

Epicardial
● Pacemaker leads are attached directly to the heart

during open‑heart surgery. Wires run externally
through the chest incision and can be attached to an
external impulse generator if needed.

● It is commonly used during and immediately following
open‑heart surgery.

Endocardial (transvenous)

Pacing wires are threaded through a large central vein
(subclavian, jugular, or cephalic) and lodged into the wall
of the right ventricle (ventricular pacing), right atrium
(atrial pacing), or both chambers (dual chamber pacing).

CHAPTER 29

Online Image: Pacemaker

29.1 Pacemaker/implantable
cardioverter/defibrillator

186 CHAPTER 29 PACEmAKERs AND ImPLANtABLE CARDIOvERtER/DEFIBRILLAtORs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

PERmANENt PACEmAKERs
● Contain an internal pacing unit
● Indicated for chronic or recurrent dysrhythmias due to

sinus or atrioventricular (AV) node malfunction
● Can be programmed to pace the atrial (A) or

ventricular (V) chamber, or both (AV)

PACEMAKER MODES
● Fixed rate (asynchronous): Fires at a constant rate

without regard for the heart’s electrical activity.
● Demand mode (synchronous): Detects the heart’s

electrical impulses and fires at a preset rate only if the
heart’s intrinsic rate is below a certain level. Pacemaker
response modes include the following:

◯ Inhibited: Pacemaker activity is inhibited/
does not fire.

◯ Triggered: Pacemaker activity is triggered/fires when
intrinsic activity is sensed.

● Tachydysrhythmia function: Can overpace a
tachydysrhythmia and/or deliver an electrical shock.

29.2 Five‑letter system to identify
pacemaker function

CHAMBER PACED CHAMBER SENSED RESPONSE MODE
O: None
A: Atria
v: ventricle
D: Dual (Av)

O: None
A: Atria
v: ventricle
D: Dual (Av)

O: None
t: triggered
I: Inhibited
D: Dual (Av)

PROGRAMMABLE
FUNCTIONS

TACHYDYSRHYTHMIC
FUNCTIONS

O: None
R: Rate modulation

O: None
P: Pacing (anti‑tachydysrhythmia)
s: shock
D: Dual (P + s)

Often, the first three letters are used to describe the
pacemaker function:

Example: vvI mode

Function: ventricular paced, ventricular
sensed, inhibited. If no QRs detected
within desired time, pacemaker fires. If QRs
detected, pacemaker does not fire.

Implantable cardioverter/
defibrillators

● Contains an internal generator
● Indicated for survivors of sudden cardiac death

syndrome, risk for sudden cardiac death, and
spontaneous or symptomatic ventricular dysrhythmias.

Pacemaker/ICD placement
INDICATIONS

POtENtIAL DIAGNOsEs
Pacemaker

● Symptomatic bradycardia
● Complete heart block
● Sick sinus syndrome
● Sinus arrest
● Asystole
● Atrial tachydysrhythmias

ICD
● Ventricular tachydysrhythmias
● MI with left ventricular dysfunction

CLIENt PREsENtAtION
SUBJECTIVE DATA

● Dizziness
● Palpitations (racing heart)
● Chest pain or pressure
● Anxiety
● Fatigue
● Nausea
● Breathing difficulties

OBJECTIVE DATA
● Bradycardia or tachycardia
● Abnormal ECG
● Dyspnea, tachypnea
● Restlessness
● Jugular venous distention
● Vomiting
● Hypotension
● Diaphoresis
● Decreased cardiac output

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Assess the client’s knowledge of the procedure and need
for pacemaker/ICD (if nonemergent situation).

● Obtain signed informed consent form from the client.
● Prepare skin (clean with soap and water; trim excess

hair). Do not shave, rub, or apply alcohol to the skin.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Understand the type of pacemaker or ICD that is to be

inserted and information about the procedure.

Temporary pacemaker
● Wires and a pacemaker box will be on the client’s chest

after the procedure.
● Dot not to touch the dials on the pacemaker box.
● The wires and box need to be kept dry. Do not shower.
● If transcutaneous pacing is required, large ECG pacing

pads will be placed on the chest and back. Alert clients
should receive sedation and analgesia when being
paced transcutaneously.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 29 PACEmAKERs AND ImPLANtABLE CARDIOvERtER/DEFIBRILLAtORs 187

Permanent pacemaker/ICD
● A small incision is made in the pectoral region using a

local anesthetic and IV sedation.
● The device can be reprogrammed externally after

the procedure.
● The pacemaker battery will last about 10 years. The

pacemaker pulse generator must be replaced when
this occurs.

● The lithium ICD battery can last for about 9 years and
requires replacement of the generator.

POstPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Document the time and date of insertion, model,
settings, rhythm strip, presence of adequate pulse and
blood pressure, and client response.

● Continually monitor heart rate and rhythm. Compare
ECG rhythm to prescribed pacemaker settings. Notify
provider of any discrepancies.

● Obtain chest x‑ray to assess lead placement and for
pneumothorax, hemothorax, or pleural effusion.

● Provide analgesia as prescribed.
● Minimize shoulder movement initially to allow leads to

anchor, and provide a sling (if prescribed).
● Monitor the incision site for bleeding, hematoma

formation, or infection.
● Following pacemaker insertion, assess for hiccups, which

can indicate that the generator is pacing the diaphragm.
● Following transcutaneous pacing, inspect the skin under

the electrodes for thermal burns. Clients who are older,
dehydrated, or have had external pacing for an extended
period of time are most at risk for thermal burns.

● For a permanent pacemaker/ICD: Provide the client with
an identification card including the manufacturer’s
name, model number, mode of function, rate
parameters, and expected battery life.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Temporary pacemakers are used only in a controlled

facility with telemetry for continuous ECG monitoring.
If needed, a permanent pacemaker is inserted before
discharge to home.

● Permanent pacemaker/ICD discharge teaching
◯ Carry a device identification card at all times.
◯ Prevent wire dislodgement. (Wear sling when out of

bed. Do not raise arm above shoulder for 1 to 2 weeks.)
◯ Take pulse daily at the same time for those with

pacemakers or combination devices. Notify the
provider if heart rate is less than the pacemaker rate.

◯ Report dizziness, fainting, fatigue, weakness, chest
pain, hiccuping, palpitations, difficulty breathing, or
weight gain.

◯ If the ICD device delivers a shock, anyone touching
the client will feel a slight electrical impulse, but the
impulse is not harmful.

◯ Follow activity restrictions as prescribed, including no
contact sports or heavy lifting for 2 months.

◯ Loss of consciousness can occur prior to ICD
shock delivery.

◯ An ICD shock can feel like a blow to the chest.
◯ Avoid direct blows or injury to the generator site.

◯ Resume sexual activity as desired, avoiding positions
that put stress on the incision site.

◯ Never place items that generate a magnetic field directly
over the pacemaker generator. These items can affect
function and settings. This includes garage door
openers, burglar alarms, strong magnets, generators
and other power transmitters, and large stereo speakers.
The use of household items is not prohibited.

◯ Inform providers and dentists about the pacemaker/
ICD. Some tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging
and therapeutic diathermy (heat therapy), can
be contraindicated.

◯ Inform airport security personnel about the presence
of a pacemaker/ICD, because it will set off airport
security detectors. The airport security device should
not affect pacemaker functioning. Airport security
personnel should not place wand detection devices
directly over the pacemaker or ICD.

COMPLICATIONS

Infection or hematoma at insertion site

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess the incision site for redness, pain, drainage,

or swelling.
● Administer antibiotics as prescribed.
● Monitor PT, PTT, and CBC.

Pneumothorax or hemothorax

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess breath sounds and chest movement.
● Monitor oxygen saturation.
● Obtain a chest x‑ray after the procedure.

PACEmAKER
● Complications relate to improper sensing or pacing

electrical charge being outside the heart. Causes include
insufficient pacemaker settings, lead wire placement
and function, battery function, myocardial damage, and
electrolyte imbalance.

● Complications often are detectable by ECG.
◯ Monitor ECG to ensure heart rate is within programmed

parameters. Pacer spikes should be adequate in number
and occur directly before P or QRS complexes.

◯ Pacer spikes that occur on the T wave can cause
life‑threatening arrhythmias.

● Treatment of complications is related to identifying
the cause.

● Pacemaker settings should be manipulated only
as prescribed.

Arrhythmias

Related to ventricular irritation from pacemaker electrode

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor ECG and blood pressure.
● Administer antiarrhythmics as prescribed.
● Have emergency resuscitation equipment and

medications readily available.

188 CHAPTER 29 PACEmAKERs AND ImPLANtABLE CARDIOvERtER/DEFIBRILLAtORs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

ICD
● Complications include delivery of inappropriate shocks.

This can be identified through device interrogation and
requires reprogramming of the device.

● The primary complication is risk of infection from the
surgical procedure. This risk is increased during battery
or lead replacement procedures.

Active Learning Scenario

A coronary care nurse is orienting a newly hired nurse
and discussing care of a client who has complications
related to pacemaker insertion. What should be included
in the discussion? Use the AtI Active Learning template:
therapeutic Procedure to complete this item.

POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS: Describe two. Describe
at least two nursing actions for each complication.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is admitting a client who has complete heart
block as demonstrated by ECG. the client’s heart rate is
34/min and blood pressure is 83/48 mm hg. the client
is lethargic and unable to complete sentences. Which
of the following actions should the nurse perform first?

A. transport the client to the
cardiovascular laboratory.

B. Prepare the client for insertion of
a permanent pacemaker.

C. Obtain a signed informed consent
form for a pacemaker.

D. Apply transcutaneous pacemaker pads.

2. A nurse is caring for a client following the insertion
of a temporary venous pacemaker via the femoral
artery that is set as a vvI pacemaker rate of 70/min.
Which of the following findings should the nurse
report to the provider? (select all that apply.)

A. Cool and clammy foot with
capillary refill of 5 seconds

B. Observed pacing spike followed by a QRs complex

C. Persistent hiccups

D. heart rate 84/min

E. Blood pressure 104/62 mm hg

3. A nurse is completing discharge teaching
with a client who has a permanent pacemaker.
Which of the following statements by the client
indicates understanding of the teaching?

A. “I will notify the airport screeners
about my pacemaker.”

B. “I will expect to have occasional hiccups.”

C. “I will have to disconnect my garage door opener.”

D. “I will take my pulse every 2 to 3 days.”

4. A cardiac nurse educator is reviewing the use of the
fixed rate mode pacemaker with a group of newly hired
nurses. Which of the following statements by a newly
hired nurse indicates understanding of the review?

A. “this means the pacemaker fires in
an asynchronous pattern.”

B. “this means the pacemaker fires only when
the heart rate is below a certain rate.”

C. “the pacemaker can automatically adjust
to a client’s increased activity level.”

D. “the pacemaker activity is triggered
by heart muscle activity.”

5. A nurse is completing discharge teaching
with a client following placement of an ICD.
Which of the following information should
the nurse include? (select all that apply.)

A. Avoid large magnetic fields.

B. Caution family members that they can receive
harmful unexpected shocks from the ICD.

C. take body temperature at the same time each day.

D. Wear tight clothing to hold the device in place.

E. Perform arm stretching exercises to
strengthen muscles surrounding the ICD.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 29 PACEmAKERs AND ImPLANtABLE CARDIOvERtER/DEFIBRILLAtORs 189

Application Exercises Key

1. A. Plan to transport the client to the cardiovascular
laboratory for placement of a permanent pacemaker
to control the client’s heart; however, there is
another action the nurse should take first.

B. Plan to prepare the client for insertion of a permanent
pacemaker by cleansing the skin and clipping excess hair;
however, there is another action the nurse should take first.

C. Obtain informed consent for placement of a permanent
pacemaker if an individual with authority to make decisions
for the client is present; however, there is another action
the nurse should take first. Emergency procedures can be
performed without consent if the client is not coherent.

D. CORRECT: the greatest risk to this client is injury or death
from inadequate tissue perfusion; therefore, the first
action the nurse should take is to apply transcutaneous
pacemaker pads and begin external pacing of the heart
until a permanent pacemaker can be placed.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Hemodynamics

2. A. CORRECT: A cool, clammy foot can be an indication
of a femoral hematoma secondary to insertion of
the lead wires and should be reported.

B. A pacing spike followed by a QRs complex
is an expected finding.

C. CORRECT: Persistent hiccups can indicate
lead wire perforation and stimulation of the
diaphragm and should be reported.

D. A heart rate of 84/min is an expected finding.
E. A blood pressure of 104/62 mm hg is an expected finding.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Unexpected Response to Therapies

3. A. CORRECT: the client should notify airport
screening personnel about a pacemaker.

B. the client should report hiccups to the provider because
they can indicate improper lead placement.

C. the use of household appliances, such as microwaves and
garage door openers, does not affect pacemaker function.

D. the client should check their pulse at the same
time every day to ensure the pacemaker is
maintaining the prescribed heart rate.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

4. A. CORRECT: Fixed rate mode is asynchronous,
meaning the pacemaker fires without regard
for electrical activity in the heart.

B. Demand mode detects an electrical impulse,
and the pacemaker will then fire only if this
impulse remains below a certain level.

C. Fixed rate pacemaker mode means the rate does
not change in relation to activity level.

D. Fixed rate mode means the pacemaker fires without
regard for electrical activity in the heart.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

5. A. CORRECT: Large magnetic fields can deactivate the device,
causing it to be ineffective for dysrhythmias.

B. Family members can feel the shock of an ICD if in contact
with the client, but the shock is not harmful.

C. CORRECT: the client should take their temperature at
the same time each day and report any increase to the
provider. this is done to monitor for infection.

D. the client should avoid wearing tight clothing, as
this can cause friction over the insertion site.

E. the client should restrict arm movement until
healing of the incision occurs. the client should
not raise arms above the head for 2 weeks.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using ATI Active Learning Template: Therapeutic Procedure

POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS

Infection or hematoma
● Assess incision site for redness, pain, drainage, or swelling.
● Administer antibiotics as prescribed.
● monitor Pt, Ptt, and CBC.

Pneumothorax or hemothorax
● monitor breath sounds and chest movement.
● monitor oxygen saturation.
● Obtain a chest x‑ray following the procedure.

Arrhythmias
● monitor ECG and blood pressure.
● Administer antiarrhythmics as prescribed.
● have emergency resuscitation equipment
and medications readily available.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

190 CHAPTER 29 PACEmAKERs AND ImPLANtABLE CARDIOvERtER/DEFIBRILLAtORs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 30 INvAsIvE CARDIOvAsCULAR PROCEDUREs 191

UNIT 4 CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: DIAGNOSTIC AND THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES

CHAPTER 30 Invasive
Cardiovascular
Procedures

Cardiovascular procedures include invasive
methods used to improve blood flow for
occluded arteries and veins.

Invasive cardiovascular procedures are indicated
after noninvasive interventions have been tried,
such as diet, exercise, and medications.

Invasive cardiovascular procedures that nurses
should be knowledgeable about include
percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI),
coronary artery bypass grafts (CABG), and
peripheral bypass grafts.

Percutaneous coronary
intervention

PCI is a nonsurgical procedure performed to open coronary
arteries through one of the following means:

● Atherectomy: Used to break up and remove plaques
within cardiac vessels.

● Stent: Placement of a mesh‑wire device that contains no
medication to hold an artery open and prevent restenosis.

● Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty: Also
referred to simply as angioplasty, this involves inflating
a balloon to dilate the arterial lumen and the adhering
plaque, thus widening the arterial lumen. This can
include stent placement.

INDICATIONS
● Can be performed on an elective basis to treat coronary

artery disease when there is occlusion of one to two
coronary arteries. The area of occlusion is confined, not
scattered, and easy to access (proximal).

● Might reduce ischemia during the occurrence of an
acute myocardial infarction (MI) by opening coronary
arteries and restoring perfusion. It is usually performed
within 4 to 6 hr of the onset of manifestations if having
a non‑ST‑elevation (NSTEMI) or myocardial infarction
(MI), or within 60 to 90 min for a ST‑elevation
myocardial infarction (STEMI).

● Might be used as an alternative to coronary artery
bypass graft.

● Angioplasty might be used with stent placement to prevent
artery reocclusion and to dilate the coronary artery.

CLIENt PREsENtAtION
SUBJECTIVE DATA: Chest pain might occur with or without
exertion. Pain might radiate to the jaw, left arm, through
the back, or to the shoulder. Manifestations might increase
in cold weather or with exercise. Other manifestations
might include dyspnea, nausea, fatigue, and diaphoresis.

OBJECTIVE DATA: ECG changes might include ST elevation,
depression, or nonspecific ST changes. Other findings might
include bradycardia, tachycardia, hypotension, elevated
blood pressure, vomiting, and mental disorientation.

CONSIDERATIONS
Refer to CHAPTER 27 CARDIOVASCULAR DIAGNOSTIC AND

THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES under angiography.

COMPLICATIONS

Artery dissection
● Perforation of an artery by the catheter might cause

cardiac tamponade or require emergency bypass surgery.
● Artery dissection findings include severe hypotension

and tachycardia, and might require extended occlusion
of perforation with a balloon catheter and reversal
of anticoagulants.

Cardiac tamponade

Cardiac tamponade can result from fluid accumulation in
the pericardial sac.

● Findings include hypotension, jugular venous distention,
muffled heart sounds, and paradoxical pulse (variance
of 10 mm Hg or more in systolic blood pressure between
expiration and inspiration).

● Hemodynamic monitoring reveals that intracardiac and
pulmonary artery pressures are similar and elevated
(plateau pressures) and that cardiac output is decreased.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Notify the provider immediately.
● Administer IV fluids to manage hypotension.
● Obtain a chest x‑ray or echocardiogram to

confirm findings.
● Prepare the client for pericardiocentesis or return to

surgical suite (informed consent, gather materials,
administer medications as appropriate).

◯ Monitor hemodynamic pressures and heart rhythm
for reoccurrence of findings after the procedure.

Hematoma formation near insertion site

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for sensation, color, capillary refill, and peripheral

pulses in the extremity distal to the insertion site.
● Assess insertion site for development of a hematoma at

prescribed intervals and as needed.
● Hold pressure for uncontrolled oozing/bleeding.
● Notify the provider.

CHAPTER 30 Online Video: Stent Placement

192 CHAPTER 30 INvAsIvE CARDIOvAsCULAR PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Allergic reaction related to the contrast dye

Manifestations can include chills, fever, rash, wheezing,
tachycardia, and bradycardia.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for an allergic reaction.
● Have resuscitation equipment readily available.
● Administer diphenhydramine or epinephrine

if prescribed.

External bleeding at the insertion site

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor insertion site for bleeding or swelling.
● Apply pressure to site.
● Keep client’s leg or arm straight.

Embolism

Plaque or a clot can become dislodged.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for chest pain during and after the procedure.
● Monitor vital signs and SaO2.

Retroperitoneal bleeding

Bleeding in the retroperitoneal space (abdominal cavity
behind the peritoneum) can occur due to femoral
artery puncture.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for flank pain and hypotension.
● Notify the provider immediately.
● Administer IV fluids and blood products.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Pressure will be applied to the insertion site.
● Keep leg straight.
● Report chest pain, shortness of breath, and

cardiac manifestations.

Restenosis of treated vessel

Clot formation can occur in the coronary vessel
immediately or several days after the procedure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess ECG patterns and for report of chest pain.
● Notify the provider immediately.
● Prepare the client for return to the cardiac

catheterization laboratory.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Notify the provider of cardiac
manifestations.

Acute kidney injury

Damage to the kidney can result from use of contrast
agent, which is nephrotoxic.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor urine output, BUN, creatinine, and electrolytes.
● Promote adequate hydration (oral and IV).

Coronary artery
bypass grafts

● CABG is an invasive surgical procedure that aims to
restore vascularization of the myocardium.

◯ Performed to bypass an obstruction in one or more
of the coronary arteries, CABG does not alter the
atherosclerotic process but improves the quality
of life for clients restricted by painful coronary
artery disease.

◯ The procedure is most effective when a client has
sufficient ventricular function (ejection fraction
greater than 50%).

◯ Older adult clients are more likely to experience
transient neurologic changes, toxic effects from
cardiac medications, and dysrhythmias.

● Less invasive revascularization procedures have been
developed to reduce risk and improve client outcomes
(off‑pump coronary artery bypass, robotic heart surgery,
minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass).
These procedures have characteristics similar to
traditional CABG.

INDICATIONS

POtENtIAL DIAGNOsEs
● More than 50% blockage of left main coronary artery

with anginal episodes (blockage inaccessible to
angioplasty and stenting)

● Significant two‑vessel disease with unstable angina
● Triple‑vessel disease with or without angina
● Persistent ischemia or likely MI following coronary

angiography, PCI, or stent placement
● Heart failure or cardiogenic shock with acute MI or

ischemia (might not be reasonable for clients who have
poor ejection fractions)

● Coronary arteries that are unable to be accessed or
treated by angioplasty and stent placement (narrow
or calcified)

● Coronary artery disease nonresponsive to medical
management

● Heart valve disease

CLIENt PREsENtAtION
SUBJECTIVE DATA: Chest pain can occur with or without
exertion. Pain can radiate to jaw, left arm, through the
back, or to the shoulder. Effects can increase in cold
weather or with exercise. Other findings can include
dyspnea, nausea, fatigue, and diaphoresis.

OBJECTIVE DATA: ECG changes can include ST elevation,
depression, or nonspecific ST changes. Other findings can
include bradycardia, tachycardia, hypotension, elevated
blood pressure, vomiting, and mental disorientation.

Online Image: Bypass Graft

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 30 INvAsIvE CARDIOvAsCULAR PROCEDUREs 193

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● A CABG can be an elective procedure or done as an
emergency. When planned, preparation begins before
the client comes to the facility for the procedure.

● Verify that the client has signed the informed
consent form.

● Confirm that recent chest x‑ray, ECG, and laboratory
reports are available if needed.

● Complete a baseline assessment of the client’s cognitive
status, identify any health issues that can complicate
postoperative recovery (diabetes, hypertension, stroke)
and the client’s support system.

● Administer preoperative medications.
◯ Anxiolytics, such as lorazepam and diazepam
◯ Prophylactic antibiotics
◯ Anticholinergics, such as scopolamine, to
reduce secretions

● Provide safe transport of the client to the operating
suite. Monitor heart rate and rhythm, oxygenation, and
other vital indicators.

● Ensure the client understands the procedure and
postsurgical environment.

● Assess client and family anxiety levels surrounding the
procedure.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Understand the importance of coughing and deep

breathing after the procedure to prevent complications.
● Splint the incision when coughing and deep breathing.

Provide a return demonstration to the nurse when
being instructed.

● Perform arm and leg exercises to prevent complications.
● Report pain to the nursing staff. The majority of pain

stems from the harvest site for the vein.
● Expect the following postoperatively.

◯ Endotracheal tube and mechanical ventilator
for airway management for several hours
following surgery

◯ Inability to talk while endotracheal tube
is in place

◯ Sternal incision and possible leg incision
◯ Early ambulation to prevent complications
◯ Administration of analgesics for pain control
◯ One or two mediastinal chest tubes
◯ Indwelling urinary catheter
◯ Pacemaker wires
◯ Hemodynamic monitoring devices (pulmonary
artery catheter, arterial line)

● Alter or discontinue regular medications
as prescribed.

◯ Medications frequently discontinued for CABG
■ Diuretics 2 to 3 days before surgery
■ Aspirin and other anticoagulants 1 week
before surgery

◯ Medications often continued for CABG
■ Potassium supplements
■ Scheduled antidysrhythmics, such as
amiodarone

■ Scheduled antihypertensives (metoprolol, a
beta‑blocker; diltiazem, a calcium‑channel blocker)

■ Insulin (clients who have diabetes mellitus and
are insulin‑dependent usually receive half the
regular insulin dose)

◯ Verbalize any feelings with family and the nurse.

INtRAPROCEDURE
● An extracardiac vein (saphenous vein), artery (usually

the radial or mammary artery), or synthetic graft can
be used to bypass an obstruction in one or more of the
coronary arteries.

● Most often, a median sternotomy incision is made to
visualize the heart and the great vessels.

● The client is placed on cardiopulmonary bypass, and the
client’s core temperature can be lowered to decrease the
rate of metabolism and demand for oxygen. A normal core
temperature can be maintained during cardiopulmonary
bypass to improve postoperative myocardial function and
reduce postoperative complications.

● A cardioplegic solution is used to stop the heart.
This prevents myocardial ischemia and allows for a
motionless operative field.

● The artery or vein to be used is harvested.
● The harvested vessel is anastomosed from the aorta

to the affected coronary artery distal to the occlusion.
When the mammary artery is used as a graft, the
proximal end remains intact, and the distal end is
grafted just past the coronary artery occlusion.

● Once the bypass is complete, the hypothermic client is
rewarmed by heat exchanges on the bypass machine.
Grafts are monitored for patency and leakage as the
client is weaned from the bypass machine and blood is
redirected through coronary vasculature.

● Lastly, pacemaker wires can be sutured into the
myocardium, and chest tubes are placed. The incision is
closed with wire sutures, and the client is transported
to the intensive care unit.

30.1 Bypass graft

194 CHAPTER 30 INvAsIvE CARDIOvAsCULAR PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

NURSING ACTIONS
● Provide padding to bony prominences to provide

comfort and prevent skin breakdown.
● Communicate surgical progress to family members,

if appropriate.
● Assist in monitoring urine output and blood loss.
● Document appropriate surgical events.
● Assist in arranging intensive care unit placement and

communicate the client’s postoperative needs.

POstPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Maintain patent airway and adequate ventilation.
◯ Monitor respiratory rate and effort.
◯ Auscultate breath sounds. Report crackles.
◯ Monitor SaO2.
◯ Document ventilator settings.
◯ Suction as needed.
◯ Assist with extubation.

● Dangle the client’s legs and turn the client from side to
side as tolerated within 2 hr following extubation. Assist
the client to a chair within 24 hr. Ambulate the client 25
to 100 ft three times a day by first postoperative day.

● Consult respiratory services to aid in recovery and
client education.

● Consult case management services to initiate discharge
planning: need for home oxygen therapy, transfer to
tertiary care facility.

● Continually monitor heart rate and rhythm. Treat
dysrhythmias per protocol.

● Maintain an adequate circulating blood volume.
◯ Monitor blood pressure.

■ Hypotension can result in graft collapse.
■ Hypertension can result in bleeding from grafts
and sutures.

■ Titrate IV drips (dopamine, dobutamine, milrinone,
sodium nitroprusside) per protocol to control blood
pressure and/or increase cardiac output.

◯ Monitor hemodynamic pressures and catheter
placement. Observe waveforms and markings on
the catheter.

◯ Monitor level of consciousness. Assess neurologic
status every 30 to 60 min until the client awakens
from anesthesia, then every 2 to 4 hr, or per
facility policy.

◯ Notify the surgeon of significant changes in values.
● Monitor chest tube patency and drainage.

◯ Measure drainage at least once an hour.
◯ Volume exceeding 150 mL/hr could be a manifestation
of hemorrhage and should be reported to the surgeon.

◯ Avoid dependent loops in tubing to facilitate drainage.
● Assess and control pain.

◯ Determine source of pain (angina, incisional pain).
■ Anginal pain often radiates and is unaffected

by breathing.
■ Incisional pain is localized, sharp, aching, burning,
and often worsens with deep breathing.

● Administer analgesics (morphine, fentanyl).
◯ Pain will stimulate the sympathetic nervous system,
resulting in increased heart rate and systemic
vascular resistance.

◯ Provide frequent and adequate doses to control pain.
Maintain around‑the‑clock administration.

● Monitor fluid and electrolyte status.
◯ Fluid administration is determined by blood pressure,

pulmonary artery wedge pressure, right atrial
pressure, cardiac output and index, systemic vascular
resistance, blood loss, and urine output.

◯ Follow provider or unit‑specific orders for
fluid administration.

◯ Monitor for electrolyte imbalances, especially for
hypokalemia and hyperkalemia.

● Prevent and monitor for infection.
◯ Practice proper hand hygiene.
◯ Use surgical aseptic technique during procedures such
as dressing changes and suctioning.

◯ Administer antibiotics.
◯ Monitor WBC counts, incisional redness and drainage,
and fever.

◯ Monitor temperature and provide warming measures
if indicated.

● Encourage physical activity. Consult the cardiac
rehabilitation program or a physical therapist to devise
a specific program.

● Discuss home environment and social supports. Consult
case management to assist with home planning needs.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Splint the incision while deep breathing and coughing.
● Monitor and report manifestations of infection (fever,

incisional drainage, redness).
● Treat angina.

◯ Maintain a fresh supply of sublingual nitroglycerin.
◯ Store nitroglycerin in a light‑resistant container.
◯ Discontinue activity and rest with the onset of pain.
Follow directions for treating anginal pain.

◯ Older female clients might show milder
manifestations (dyspnea, indigestion).

● Adhere to the pharmacological regimen.
● Those who have diabetes mellitus should closely

monitor blood glucose levels.
● Consume a heart‑healthy diet (low fat, low cholesterol,

high fiber, low salt).
● Quit smoking if applicable. Use resources on smoking

cessation provided by nurse.
● Remain home during the first week after surgery and

resume normal activities slowly.
◯ Week 2: possible return to work part time, increase in
social activities

◯ Week 3: lifting of up to 15 lb (avoid heavier lifting for
6 to 8 weeks)

● Resume sexual activity based on provider advice.
◯ Walking one block or climbing two flights of stairs
without shortness of breath or manifestations of
angina generally indicates that it is safe for the client
to resume normal sexual activity.

● Verbalize feelings.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 30 INvAsIvE CARDIOvAsCULAR PROCEDUREs 195

COMPLICATIONS

Pulmonary complications

These include the primary complication of atelectasis, as
well as pneumonia and pulmonary edema.

NURSING ACTIONS
● While the client is intubated, suction every 1 to 2 hr and

as needed.
● Turn the client every 2 hr, and advance them out of bed

as soon as possible.
● Monitor breath sounds, SaO2, ABGs, pulmonary artery

pressures, cardiac output, and urine output and obtain a
chest x‑ray as indicated.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Engage in coughing, deep breathing,
and use of an incentive spirometer. Increasing activity
reduces postoperative complications.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia can cause vasoconstriction, metabolic
acidosis, and hypertension.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor temperature and provide warming measures

(warm blankets, heat lamps).
● Monitor blood pressure.
● Administer vasodilators if prescribed.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Shivering is common
following surgery.

Decreased cardiac output

Decreased cardiac output can result from dysrhythmias,
cardiac tamponade, hypovolemia, left ventricular
failure, or MI.

Cardiac tamponade results from bleeding while chest
tubes are occluded, causing fluid to build up in the
pericardium. Increased pericardial fluid compresses heart
chambers and inhibits effective pumping.

● Indications include a sudden decrease/cessation
of chest‑tube drainage following heavy drainage,
jugular‑venous distention with clear lung sounds, and
equal pulmonary artery wedge pressure and central
venous pressure values.

Hypovolemia can be the result of bleeding, decreased
intravascular volume, or vasodilation; hypotension and
decreased urine output are the results.

Left ventricular heart failure can occur with an MI
or fluid overload.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor ECG, blood pressure, pulmonary artery

pressures, cardiac output, urine output, and bleeding
through the chest tube.

● Administer inotropic medications and fluid and
blood products.

● Treat dysrhythmias.
◯ Use pacemaker wires if heart block is present.

● Treatment of cardiac tamponade involves volume
expansion (fluid administration) and an emergency
sternotomy with drainage. Pericardiocentesis is avoided
because blood can have clotted.

Electrolyte disturbances

Potassium and magnesium depletion is common.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Always dilute potassium in adequate fluid (20 to 40 mEq

in 100 mL of IV solution).
● Administer via infusion pump to control the rate of

delivery. The administration rate is 10 mEq/hr.
● Monitor ECG and electrolytes.

Neurologic deficits

Transient hypertension, hypotension, or a blood clot
might cause an intraoperative cerebrovascular accident.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess neurologic status, including pupils, level of

consciousness, and sensory and motor function.
● Maintain the client’s blood pressure within

prescribed parameters.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Understand the procedures.
● Memory loss and neurologic deficits can be temporary.

Peripheral bypass grafts
Peripheral bypass graft surgery aims to restore
adequate blood flow to the areas affected by peripheral
artery disease.

● A peripheral bypass graft involves suturing graft
material or autogenous saphenous veins proximal and
distal to occluded area of an artery. This procedure
improves blood supply to the area normally served by
the blocked artery.

● If bypass surgery fails to restore circulation, the client
might need to undergo amputation of the limb.

INDICATIONS
● Acute circulatory compromise in limb
● Severe pain at rest that interferes with the

ability to work

CLIENt PREsENtAtION
SUBJECTIVE DATA

● Numbness or burning pain to the lower extremity with
exercise; can stop with rest (intermittent claudication)

● Numbness or burning pain to the lower extremity at
rest; can wake the client at night; pain can be relieved
by lowering the extremity below the level of the heart

196 CHAPTER 30 INvAsIvE CARDIOvAsCULAR PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

OBJECTIVE DATA
● Decreased or absent pulses to feet.
● Dry, hairless, shiny skin on calves.
● Muscles can atrophy with advanced disease.
● Skin can be cold and darkened.
● Feet and toes can be mottled and dusky, and toenails

might be thick.
● Skin can become reddened (rubor) when extremity is

dropped to a dependent position.
● Ulcers or lesions can be noted on toes (arterial ulcers) or

ankles (venous ulcers).

CONSIDERATIONS

PREPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Assess client and family understanding of the procedure.
● Verify that the client has signed the informed

consent form.
● Assess for allergies.
● Document baseline vital signs and peripheral pulses.
● Administer prophylactic antibiotic therapy.
● Understand information about postoperative

pain management and deep breathing/incentive
spirometer exercises.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Maintain NPO status for at least 8 hr prior to surgery.
● Do not to cross legs.
● An arterial line might be inserted for blood and blood

pressure.
● Pedal pulses will be checked frequently.

INtRAPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Provide padding to bony prominences to provide
comfort and to prevent skin breakdown.

● Communicate surgical progress to family members,
if appropriate.

● Assist in monitoring urine output and blood loss.
● Document appropriate surgical events.
● Communicate the client’s postoperative needs to the

postanesthesia care unit.

POstPROCEDURE
NURSING ACTIONS

● Assess vital signs every 15 min for 1 hr and then hourly
after the first hour (or per facility policy).

● Follow standing orders to maintain blood pressure
within the prescribed range. Hypotension might
reduce blood flow to graft, and hypertension might
cause bleeding.

● Assess the operative limb every 15 min for 1 hr and
then hourly after that, paying particular attention to
the following.

◯ Incision site for bleeding.
◯ Peripheral pulses, capillary refill, skin color/
temperature, and sensory and motor function for
indications of bypass graft occlusion. In clients who
have dark skin, assess nail beds and soles of feet to
detect early cyanosis.

◯ Site is marked with an indelible marker.
● Administer IV fluids.
● Assess the type of pain experienced by the client.

◯ Throbbing pain is experienced due to an increase in
blood flow to extremity.

◯ Ischemic pain is often difficult to relieve with
opioid administration.

● Administer analgesics, such as morphine sulfate
and fentanyl.

● Administer antibiotics.
● Use surgical aseptic technique for dressing changes.
● Monitor incision sites for evidence of infection

(erythema, tenderness, drainage).
● Administer anticoagulant therapy (warfarin, heparin,

enoxaparin) to prevent reocclusion.
● Administer antiplatelet therapy (clopidogrel, aspirin).
Alternate medications are tirofiban and eptifibatide.

● Help the client turn, cough, and deep breathe every 2 hr.
● Maintain bed rest for 18 to 24 hr. The leg should be kept

straight during this time.
● Assist the client to get out of bed and ambulate.

Encourage the use of a walker initially.
● Discourage the client from sitting for long

periods of time.
● Apply antiembolic stockings to promote venous return.
● Set up a progressive exercise program that includes

walking. Consider a physical therapy consult.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Completely abstain from smoking. Consider a

smoking‑cessation program suggested by the nurse.
● Follow activity restrictions.
● Avoid crossing legs.
● Avoid elevating legs above heart level.
● Reduce risk factors for atherosclerosis (smoking,

sedentary lifestyle, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus).
● Learn techniques of foot inspection and care from

the nurse.
◯ Keep feet dry and clean.
◯ Avoid extreme temperatures.
◯ Use lotion.
◯ Avoid socks with tight cuffs.
◯ Wear clean white cotton socks and always wear shoes.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 30 INvAsIvE CARDIOvAsCULAR PROCEDUREs 197

COMPLICATIONS

Graft occlusion

The graft might occlude due to reduced blood flow and
clot formation. Occurs primarily in first 24 hr after
the procedure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Notify the provider immediately for changes in pedal

pulse, extremity color, or temperature.
● Prepare the client for thrombectomy or

thrombolytic therapy.
● Monitor for bleeding with thrombolytics.
● Monitor coagulation studies.
● Monitor for anaphylaxis.

Compartment syndrome

Pressure from tissue swelling or bleeding within a
compartment or a restricted space causes reduced blood
flow to the area. Untreated, the affected tissue will
become necrotic and die.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for worsening pain, swelling, and tense or

taut skin.
● Report unusual findings to the provider immediately.
● Prepare the client for a fasciotomy to relieve

compartmental pressure.

Infection

Infection of the surgical site might result in the loss of the
graft and increased ischemia.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess the wound for increased redness, swelling,

and drainage.
● Monitor WBC count and temperature.
● Collect specimens (wound or blood cultures).
● Administer antibiotic therapy.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Notify the provider of decreased
sensation, increased ischemic pain, redness, or swelling at
the incisional site or in the affected limb.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who is 4 hr postoperative
following coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)
surgery. the client is able to inspire 200 mL with
the incentive spirometer, then declines to try to
cough because of fatigue and pain. Which of
the following actions should the nurse take?

A. Allow the client to rest, and return in 1 hr.

B. Administer Iv bolus analgesic, and return in 15 min.

C. Document the 200 mL as an
appropriate inspired volume.

D. tell the client coughing after incentive
spirometry is required.

2. A nurse is caring for a client following peripheral
bypass graft surgery of the left lower extremity.
Which of the following findings pose an
immediate concern? (select all that apply.)

A. trace of bloody drainage on dressing

B. Capillary refill of affected limb of 6 seconds

C. mottled appearance of the limb

D. throbbing pain of affected limb that is
decreased following Iv bolus analgesic

E. Pulse of 2+ in the affected limb

3. A nurse educator is reviewing the use of
cardiopulmonary bypass during surgery for coronary
artery bypass grafting with a group of nurses.
Which of the following statements should the nurse
include in the discussion? (select all that apply.)

A. “the client’s demand for oxygen is lowered.”

B. “motion of the heart ceases.”

C. “Rewarming of the client takes place.”

D. “the client’s metabolic rate is increased.”

E. “Blood flow to the heart is stopped.”

4. A nurse is caring for a client following an angioplasty
that was inserted through the femoral artery.
While turning the client, the nurse discovers blood
underneath the client’s lower back. Which of the
following findings should the nurse suspect?

A. Retroperitoneal bleeding

B. Cardiac tamponade

C. Bleeding from the incisional site

D. heart failure

5. A nurse is completing the admission assessment
of a client who will undergo peripheral bypass
graft surgery on the left leg. Which of the
following findings should the nurse expect?

A. Rubor of the affected leg when elevated

B. 3+ dorsal pedal pulse in left foot

C. thin, peeling toenails of left foot

D. Report of intermittent claudication
in the affected leg

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is developing the plan of care for a client who is
returning to the unit following angioplasty. What should be
included in the plan of care? Use the AtI Active Learning
template: therapeutic Procedure to complete this item.

NURSING INTERVENTIONS: Describe five
postprocedure nursing actions.

POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS:
● Describe at least two.
● Describe at least two actions related to
each of these complications.

198 CHAPTER 30 INvAsIvE CARDIOvAsCULAR PROCEDUREs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. turning, coughing, and deep breathing should be performed
every 2 hr to promote oxygenation and circulation.

B. CORRECT: Providing adequate analgesia and returning in
15 min will reduce pain and improve coughing effectiveness.

C. this is not an adequate inspired air volume
to promote effective oxygenation.

D. this intervention is non‑therapeutic communication.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Pharmacological Pain Management

2. A. A trace of bloody drainage on the dressing is an expected
finding and does not require immediate concern.

B. CORRECT: Capillary refill greater than 3 seconds
is outside the expected reference range and
should be reported to the provider.

C. CORRECT: mottled appearance of the affected extremity is an
unexpected finding and should be reported to the provider.

D. Pain that is decreased following Iv bolus analgesia is an
expected finding and does not require immediate concern.

E. Pulse of 2+ in the affected extremity is an expected
finding and does not require immediate concern.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

3. A. CORRECT: the use of cardiopulmonary bypass reduces
the client’s demand for oxygen, which reduces the risk
of inadequate oxygenation of vital organs.

B. CORRECT: motion of the heart ceases during
cardiopulmonary bypass to allow for placement of
the graft near the affected coronary artery.

C. CORRECT: the core body temperature is lowered for
the procedure, and rewarming then occurs through heat
exchanges on the cardiopulmonary bypass machine.

D. the use of cardiopulmonary bypass
decreases the rate of metabolism.

E. Blood flow to the heart is maintained by the action
of the cardiopulmonary bypass machine.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

4. A. Retroperitoneal bleeding is internal bleeding.
B. Cardiac tamponade includes manifestations of

bleeding in the pericardial sac, which is internal.
C. CORRECT: Bleeding is occurring from the incision site

and then draining under the client. the nurse should
assess the incision for hematoma, apply pressure,
monitor the client, and notify the provider.

D. heart failure does not including findings of blood
underneath the client’s lower back.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

5. A. Reddening (rubor) of a leg affected by peripheral artery
disease occurs when it is placed in a dependent position.

B. Pulses are decreased or absent in the feet in
cases of peripheral artery disease.

C. toenails are thickened in cases of peripheral artery disease.
D. CORRECT: A client who has peripheral artery disease

might report that numbness or burning pain in the
extremity ceases with rest (intermittent claudication).

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using ATI Active Learning Template: Therapeutic Procedure

NURSING INTERVENTIONS
● Assess vital signs every 15 min × 4, every 30 min × 2, every
hour × 4, and then every 4 hr (or per facility protocol).

● Assess the groin site with vital signs.
● maintain bed rest in supine position with
leg straight for prescribed time.

● Conduct continuous cardiac monitoring for dysrhythmia.
● Administer antiplatelet or thrombolytic agents.
● Administer anxiolytics and analgesics.
● monitor urine output and administer Iv fluids for hydration.
● Assist with sheath removal from insertion site.

POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS
● Cardiac tamponade: Notify the provider; administer
Iv fluids to manage hypotension; obtain chest x‑ray or
echocardiogram; prepare for pericardiocentesis.

● hematoma formation: monitor sensation, color, capillary refill,
and pulse in extremity distal to insertion site; hold pressure
for uncontrolled oozing/bleeding; notify the provider.

● Allergic reaction: monitor the client; have resuscitation equipment
available; administer diphenhydramine or epinephrine as needed.

● External bleeding: monitor insertion site for bleeding or swelling;
apply pressure to insertion site; keep client’s leg straight.

● Embolism: monitor for chest pain; monitor vital signs and saO2.
● Retroperitoneal bleeding: Assess for flank pain and hypotension;
notify the provider; administer Iv fluids and blood products.

● Restenosis of vessel: Assess ECG pattern and for
report of chest pain; notify the provider; prepare for
return to cardiac catheterization laboratory.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Alterations in
Body Systems

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 31 ANGINA AND mYOCARDIAL INFARCtION 199

UNIT 4 CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: CARDIAC DISORDERS

CHAPTER 31 Angina and
Myocardial
Infarction

the continuum from angina to myocardial infarction
(mI) is acute coronary syndrome. manifestations of
acute coronary syndrome are due to an imbalance
between myocardial oxygen supply and demand.

When blood flow to the heart is compromised,
ischemia causes chest pain. Anginal pain is often
described as a tight squeezing, heavy pressure,
or constricting feeling in the chest. the pain can
radiate to the jaw, neck, or arm. Pain unrelieved
by rest or nitroglycerin and lasting for more than
15 min differentiates an mI from angina. Females
and older adults do not always experience
manifestations typically associated with
angina or mI.

the area of infarction in clients experiencing a
myocardial infarction (mI) develops over minutes
to hours. Early recognition and treatment of an
acute mI is essential to prevent death.

Research shows improved outcomes following an
mI in clients treated with aspirin, beta‑blockers,
and angiotensin‑converting
enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin
receptor blockers.

An abrupt interruption of oxygen to the heart
muscle produces myocardial ischemia. Ischemia
can lead to tissue necrosis (infarction) if blood
supply and oxygen are not restored. Ischemia
is reversible. An infarction results in permanent
damage. When the cardiac muscle suffers
ischemic injury, cardiac enzymes are released into
the bloodstream, providing specific markers of mI.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Maintain an exercise routine to remain physically
active. Consult with a provider before starting any
exercise regimen.

● Have cholesterol level and blood pressure checked regularly.
● Consume a diet low in saturated fats and sodium.

Consult with a provider regarding diet restrictions.
● Promote smoking cessation.

ASSESSMENT

Types of angina

Stable (exertional) angina occurs with exercise or
emotional stress and is relieved by rest or nitroglycerin.

Unstable (preinfarction) angina occurs with exercise or
at rest, but increases in occurrence, severity, and duration
over time.

Variant (Prinzmetal’s) angina is due to a coronary artery
spasm, often occurring during periods of rest.

CHAPTER 31

Online Image: Myocardial Infarction

31.1 Myocardial infarction

200 CHAPTER 31 ANGINA AND mYOCARDIAL INFARCtION CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

RIsK FACtORs
● Male sex or postmenopausal clients
● Ethnic background
● Sedentary lifestyle
● Hypertension
● Tobacco use
● Hyperlipidemia
● Obesity
● Excessive alcohol consumption
● Metabolic disorders (diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism)
● Methamphetamine or cocaine use
● Stress (with ineffective coping skills)
● An increased risk of coronary artery disease exists for

older adult clients who are physically inactive, have one
or more chronic diseases (hypertension, heart failure,
and diabetes mellitus), or have lifestyle habits (smoking
and diet) that contribute to atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerotic changes related to aging predispose the
heart to poor blood perfusion and oxygen delivery.

● Incidence of cardiac disease increases with age,
especially in the presence of hypertension, diabetes
mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, elevated homocysteine,
and highly sensitive C‑reactive protein (hs‑CRP).

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Anxiety, feeling of impending doom
● Chest pain: substernal or precordial

◯ Can radiate down the shoulder or arm, or present
as jaw pain

◯ Can be described as a crushing or aching pressure
● Nausea
● Dizziness
● Females can experience atypical angina, which is

characterized by pain between the shoulders, ache in
the jaw, or sensation of choking with exertion.

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Pallor, and cool, clammy skin
● Tachycardia and heart palpitations
● Tachypnea and shortness of breath
● Diaphoresis
● Vomiting
● Decreased level of consciousness

LABORAtORY tEsts
Cardiac enzymes released with cardiac muscle injury:

● Myoglobin: Earliest marker of injury to cardiac or
skeletal muscle. Levels no longer evident after 24 hr.

● Creatine kinase‑MB: Peaks around 24 hr after onset of
chest pain. Levels no longer evident after 3 days.

● Troponin I or T: Any positive value indicates damage to
cardiac tissue and should be reported.

◯ Troponin I: Levels no longer evident after 7 to 10 days.
◯ Troponin T: Levels no longer evident after 10 to 14 days.

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs
Refer to CHAPTER 27: CARDIOVASCULAR DIAGNOSTIC AND

THERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Recording of electrical activity of the heart over time

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for changes on serial ECGs.
● Angina: ST depression and/or T‑wave inversion indicates

presence of ischemia.
● MI: T‑wave inversion indicates ischemia; ST‑segment

elevation indicates injury; abnormal Q‑wave
indicates necrosis.

Stress test

Also known as exercise electrocardiography. Client
tolerance of activity is tested using a treadmill, bicycle, or
medication to evaluate response to increased heart rate.

Thallium scan

Assesses for ischemia or necrosis. Radioisotopes cannot
reach areas with decreased or absent perfusion, and the
areas appear as “cold spots.”

CLIENT EDUCATION: Avoid smoking and consuming
caffeinated beverages 4 hr prior to the procedure. These
can affect the test.

31.3 Assessment

Stable angina
Precipitated by
exertion or stress
Relieved by rest or
nitroglycerin
manifestations last
less than 15 min
Not associated with nausea,
epigastric distress, dyspnea,
anxiety, diaphoresis

Myocardial
infarction
Can occur without
cause, often in the
morning after rest
Relieved only by opioids
manifestations last
more than 30 min
Associated with nausea,
epigastric distress, dyspnea,
anxiety, diaphoresis

31.2 Anginal pain

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 31 ANGINA AND mYOCARDIAL INFARCtION 201

Cardiac catheterization
● A coronary angiogram, also called a cardiac

catheterization, is an invasive diagnostic procedure
used to evaluate the presence and degree of coronary
artery blockage.

● Angiography involves the insertion of a catheter into a
femoral (sometimes a brachial) vessel and threading it
into the right or left side of the heart. Coronary artery
narrowing and occlusions are identified by the injection
of contrast media under fluoroscopy.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Ensure the client understands the procedure prior to

signing informed consent.
● Ensure that the client remains NPO 8 hr prior

to procedure.
● Assess for iodine/shellfish allergy (contrast media).

mI CLAssIFICAtION
MIs are classified based on:

● Affected area of the heart: anterior, lateral, inferior,
or posterior

● ECG changes produced: ST elevation myocardial
infarction (STEMI) vs. non‑ST elevation myocardial
infarction (NSTEMI)

● The time frame within the progression of the infarction:
acute, evolving, old

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Monitor the following.

◯ Vital signs every 5 min until stable, then every hour
◯ Serial ECG, continuous cardiac monitoring
◯ Location, precipitating factors, severity, quality, and
duration of pain

◯ Hourly urine output: greater than 30 mL/hr indicates
renal perfusion

◯ Laboratory data: cardiac enzymes, electrolytes, ABGs
● Administer oxygen: 2 to 4 L/min.
● Obtain and maintain IV access.
● Promote energy conservation. Cluster

nursing interventions.

mEDICAtIONs

Vasodilators

Nitroglycerin prevents coronary artery vasospasm and
reduces preload and afterload, decreasing myocardial
oxygen demand.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use to treat angina and help control blood pressure.
● Use cautiously with other antihypertensive medications.
● Monitor for orthostatic hypotension.
● Ensure the client has not taken a phosphodiesterase

inhibitor for erectile dysfunction within 24 to 48 hr, as
severe hypotension can result.

CLIENT EDUCATION FOR CHEST PAIN
● Stop activity and rest.
● Place a nitroglycerin tablet under the tongue to dissolve

(quick absorption).
● If pain is unrelieved in 5 min, call 911 or be driven to an

emergency department.
● Up to two more doses of nitroglycerin can be taken at
5‑min intervals.

● Headache is a common adverse effect of this medication.
● Change positions slowly.

Analgesics

Morphine sulfate is an opioid analgesic used to treat
moderate to severe pain. Analgesics act on the mu and
kappa receptors that help alleviate pain. Activation of
these receptors produces analgesia (pain relief), respiratory
depression, euphoria, sedation, and decreases in myocardial
oxygen consumption and gastrointestinal (GI) motility.

! Use cautiously with clients who have asthma or
emphysema due to the risk of respiratory depression.

NURSING ACTIONS
● For the client having chest pain, assess pain every
5 to 15 min.

● Watch for manifestations of respiratory depression,
especially in older adults. If respirations are less than
12/min, stop medication, and notify the provider
immediately.

● Monitor vital signs for hypotension and
decreased respirations.

● Assess for nausea and vomiting.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● If nausea and vomiting persist, notify a nurse.
● If a PCA pump is prescribed, the client is the only

person who should push the medication administration
button. The safety lockout mechanism on the PCA pump
prevents overdosing of the medication.

Beta‑blockers
● Metoprolol has antidysrhythmic and antihypertensive

properties that decrease the imbalance between
myocardial oxygen supply and demand by reducing
afterload and slowing heart rate.

● In an acute MI, beta‑blockers decrease infarct size and
improve short‑ and long‑term survival rates.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Beta‑blockers can cause bradycardia and hypotension.

Hold the medication if the apical pulse rate is less than
60/min, and notify the provider.

● Avoid giving to clients who have asthma. Cardioselective
beta blockers (which affect only beta1 receptors), such
as metoprolol, are preferred because they minimize the
effects on the respiratory system.

● Use with caution in clients who have heart failure.
● Monitor for decreased level of consciousness, crackles in

the lungs, and chest discomfort.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Change positions slowly.
● Notify the provider immediately of shortness of breath,

edema, weight gain, or cough.

202 CHAPTER 31 ANGINA AND mYOCARDIAL INFARCtION CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Thrombolytic agents
● Alteplase and reteplase are used to break up blood clots.
● Thrombolytic agents have similar adverse effects and

contraindications as anticoagulants.
● For best results, give within 6 hr of infarction.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for contraindications (active bleeding, peptic

ulcer disease, history of stroke, recent trauma).
● Monitor for effects of bleeding (mental status changes,

hematuria).
● Monitor bleeding times: PT, aPTT, INR, fibrinogen

levels, and CBC.
● Monitor for the same adverse effects as anticoagulants

(thrombocytopenia, anemia, hemorrhage).
● Administer streptokinase slowly to prevent hypotension.

CLIENT EDUCATION: There is a risk for bruising and
bleeding while on this medication.

Antiplatelet agents
● Aspirin and clopidogrel prevent platelets from forming

together, which can produce arterial clotting.
● Aspirin prevents vasoconstriction. Due to this and

antiplatelet effects, it should be administered with
nitroglycerin at the onset of chest pain.

● Antiplatelet agents can cause GI upset.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use cautiously with clients who have a history of

GI ulcers.
● Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can be a manifestation of

aspirin toxicity.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● There is risk for bruising and bleeding while on

this medication.
● If aspirin is prescribed, choose the enteric‑coated form

and take with food to minimize GI upset.
● Report ringing in the ears.

Anticoagulants

Heparin and enoxaparin are used to prevent clots from
becoming larger or other clots from forming.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for contraindications (active bleeding, peptic

ulcer disease, history of stroke, recent trauma).
● Monitor platelet levels and bleeding times: PT, aPTT,

INR, and CBC.
● Monitor for adverse effects of anticoagulants

(thrombocytopenia, anemia, hemorrhage).

CLIENT EDUCATION: There is risk for bruising and
bleeding while on this medication.

Glycoprotein IIB/IIIA inhibitors

Eptifibatide is used to prevent binding of fibrinogen to
platelets, in turn blocking platelet aggregation.

● In combination with aspirin therapy, IIB/IIIA inhibitors
are standard therapy.

● This medication can cause active bleeding.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor platelet levels.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Report evidence of bleeding during
medication therapy.

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
● Pain management services can be consulted if pain

persists or is uncontrolled.
● Cardiac rehabilitation care can be consulted if the client

has prolonged weakness and needs assistance with
increasing level of activity.

● Nutritional services can be consulted for diet modification
to promote food choices low in sodium and saturated fat.

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs
● Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA)
● Bypass graft (also known as CABG)

CLIENt EDUCAtION
● Cardiac rehabilitation should be consulted for a specific

exercise program related to the heart.
● Nutritional services, such as a dietitian, can be

consulted for diet modification or weight management.
● Monitor and report findings of infection (fever,

incisional drainage, redness).
● Avoid straining, strenuous exercise, or emotional stress

when possible.
● Regarding response to chest pain: follow instructions on

use of sublingual nitroglycerin.
● Consider smoking cessation, if applicable.
● Remain active and to exercise regularly.

COMPLICATIONS

Acute MI

A complication of angina not relieved by rest or nitroglycerin

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer oxygen.
● Notify the provider immediately.

Heart failure/cardiogenic shock

Injury to the left ventricle can lead to decreased cardiac
output and heart failure. Progressive heart failure can lead
to cardiogenic shock.

● This is a serious complication of pump failure,
commonly following an MI of 40% blockage.

● Manifestations include tachycardia; hypotension;
inadequate urinary output; altered level of consciousness;
respiratory distress (crackles and tachypnea); cool,
clammy skin; decreased peripheral pulses; and chest pain.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 31 ANGINA AND mYOCARDIAL INFARCtION 203

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer oxygen. Intubation and ventilation can be

required.
● Administer IV morphine, diuretics, and/or nitroglycerin

to decrease preload. Administer IV vasopressors and/
or positive inotropes to increase cardiac output and
maintain organ perfusion.

● Maintain continuous hemodynamic monitoring.

Ischemic mitral regurgitation

Evidenced by development of a new cardiac murmur

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer oxygen.
● Notify the provider immediately.

Ventricular aneurysms/rupture

Can be due to necrosis from MI. Can present as sudden
chest pain, dysrhythmias, and severe hypotension

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer oxygen.
● Notify the provider immediately.

Dysrhythmias
● An inferior wall MI can lead to an injury to the AV

node, resulting in bradycardia and second‑degree
AV heart block.

● An anterior wall MI can lead to an injury to the ventricle,
resulting in premature ventricular contractions, bundle
branch block, or complete heart block.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor ECG and vital signs.
● Administer oxygen.
● Administer antidysrhythmic medications.
● Prepare for cardiac pacemaker or implantable

cardioverter defibrillator if needed.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is teaching a client who has new diagnosis of angina
about coronary syndrome. What information should the
nurse include in the teaching? Use the AtI Active Learning
template: system Disorder to complete this item.

RISK FACTORS: Describe five.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Describe at least two
teaching points the nurse can use to help the
client decrease risk of having angina or an mI.

EXPECTED FINDINGS

LIST FIVE SUBJECTIVE FINDINGS.

DESCRIBE FOUR PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is admitting a client who has a suspected
myocardial infarction (mI) and a history of angina.
Which of the following findings will help the
nurse distinguish stable angina from an mI?

A. stable angina can be relieved
with rest and nitroglycerin.

B. the pain of an mI resolves in less than 15 min.

C. the type of activity that causes
an mI can be identified.

D. stable angina can occur for longer than 30 min.

2. A nurse on a cardiac unit is reviewing the laboratory
findings of a client who has a diagnosis of myocardial
infarction (mI) and reports that his dyspnea began
2 weeks ago. Which of the following cardiac enzymes
would confirm the mI occurred 14 days ago?

A. CK‑mB

B. troponin I

C. troponin t

D. myoglobin

3. A nurse is caring for a client who asks why the
provider prescribed a daily aspirin. Which of the
following responses should the nurse make?

A. “Aspirin reduces the formation of blood
clots that could cause a heart attack.”

B. “Aspirin relieves the pain due to
myocardial ischemia.”

C. “Aspirin dissolves clots that are forming
in your coronary arteries.”

D. “Aspirin relieves headaches that are
caused by other medications.”

4. A nurse is teaching a client who has angina
about a new prescription for metoprolol.
Which of the following statements by the client
indicates understanding of the teaching?

A. “I should place the tablet under my tongue.”

B. “I should have my clotting time checked weekly.”

C. “I will report any ringing in my ears.”

D. “I will call my doctor if my pulse
rate is less than 60.”

5. A nurse is presenting a community education program
on recommended lifestyle changes to prevent angina
and myocardial infarction. Which of the following
changes should the nurse recommend be made first?

A. Diet modification

B. Relaxation exercises

C. smoking cessation

D. taking omega‑3 capsules

204 CHAPTER 31 ANGINA AND mYOCARDIAL INFARCtION CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. CORRECT: stable angina can be relieved
by rest and nitroglycerin.

B. Pain associated with an mI usually lasts longer than
30 min and requires opioid analgesics for relief.

C. there is no specific type of activity that causes
an mI. It can occur following rest.

D. the pain of stable angina usually occurs for 15 min or less.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Hemodynamics

2. A. the creatinine kinase mB levels are no
longer evident after 3 days.

B. troponin I levels are no longer evident after 7 to 10 days.
C. CORRECT: the troponin t level will still be

evident 10 to 14 days following an mI.
D. myoglobin levels are no longer evident after 24 hr.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Laboratory Values

3. A. CORRECT: Aspirin decreases platelet aggregation
that can cause a myocardial infarction.

B. One aspirin per day is not sufficient
to alleviate ischemic pain.

C. Aspirin does not dissolve clots.
D. Other medications can cause headaches, but one

aspirin per day is not administered as an analgesic.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

4. A. metoprolol is administered orally, not sublingually.
B. metoprolol does not affect bleeding or

clotting time. the client should have CBC and
blood glucose checked periodically.

C. Ringing in the ears is not an adverse effect of the medication.
Dry mouth and mucous membranes can occur.

D. CORRECT: the client is advised to notify the provider
if bradycardia (pulse rate less than 60) occurs.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies,
Medication Administration

5. A. Recommend changing the diet to decrease consumption
of sodium and saturated fat; however, there is another
change the clients should plan to make first.

B. Recommend using relaxation exercise to cope
with stress; however, there is another change
the clients should plan to make first.

C. CORRECT: According to the airway, breathing, and
circulation (ABC) priority‑setting framework, the first
step is to recommend the clients to stop smoking.
Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, elevates blood
pressure, and narrows coronary arteries.

D. Recommend taking omega‑3 capsules to increase
consumption of good cholesterol; however, there is
another change the clients should plan to make first.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

RISK FACTORS
● male sex or postmenopausal clients
● sedentary lifestyle
● hypertension
● substance use (tobacco, cocaine,
methamphetamine, excessive alcohol)

● hyperlipidemia
● metabolic disorders (diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism)
● stress (with ineffective coping skills)

CLIENT EDUCATION
● have routine cholesterol, blood pressure,
and blood sugar screenings.

● Participate in regular physical activity for
exercise and stress reduction.

EXPECTED FINDINGS
● subjective findings: Feeling of impending doom;
chest pain, pressure, or crushing radiating to the
arm or jaw; nausea; dizziness; anxiety

● Physical assessment findings: Pale, cool, clammy
skin; tachycardia; tachypnea; diaphoresis

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 32 hEARt FAILURE AND PULmONARY EDEmA 205

UNIT 4 CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: CARDIAC DISORDERS

CHAPTER 32 Heart Failure and
Pulmonary Edema

heart failure occurs when the heart muscle
is unable to pump effectively, resulting
in inadequate cardiac output, myocardial
hypertrophy, and pulmonary/systemic
congestion. the heart is unable to maintain
adequate circulation to meet tissue needs.

heart failure is the result of an acute or
chronic cardiopulmonary problem, such as
systemic hypertension, myocardial infarction
(mI), pulmonary hypertension, dysrhythmias,
valvular heart disease, pericarditis, or
cardiomyopathy. (32.1)

Pulmonary edema is a severe, life‑threatening
accumulation of fluid in the alveoli and
interstitial spaces of the lung that can result from
severe heart failure.

Heart failure
New York Heart Association’s
functional classification scale

The severity of heart failure is graded on the
New York Heart Association’s (NYHA) functional
classification scale indicating the level of activity it
takes to induce manifestations of impaired function
(chest pain, shortness of breath).

CLASS I: Client exhibits no manifestations
with activity.

CLASS II: Client has manifestations with
ordinary exertion.

CLASS III: Client displays manifestations with
minimal exertion.

CLASS IV: Client has manifestations at rest.

American College of Cardiology and American
Heart Association staging heart failure

American College of Cardiology and American Heart
Association developed evidence‑based guidelines for
staging and managing heart failure in comparison with
the NYHA system.

A: High risk for developing heart failure

B: Cardiac structural abnormalities or remodeling but no
manifestations of heart failure

C: Current or prior manifestations of heart failure

D: Refractory end‑stage heart failure

Low‑output heart failure

Low‑output heart failure can initially occur on either the
left or right side of the heart.

● Left‑sided heart (ventricular) failure results in
inadequate left ventricle (cardiac) output and
consequently in inadequate tissue perfusion.

◯ Systolic heart (ventricular) failure (ejection fraction
below 40%, pulmonary and systemic congestion)

◯ Diastolic heart (ventricular) failure (inadequate
relaxation or “stiffening” prevents ventricular filling)

● Right‑sided heart (ventricular) failure results in
inadequate right ventricle output and systemic venous
congestion (peripheral edema).

High‑output heart failure

An uncommon form of heart failure is high‑output failure,
in which cardiac output is normal or above normal.

CHAPTER 32

32.1 Cardiomyopathy

206 CHAPTER 32 hEARt FAILURE AND PULmONARY EDEmA CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Maintain an exercise routine to remain physically
active, and consult with the provider before starting any
exercise regimen.

● Consume a diet low in sodium, along with fluid
restrictions, and consult with the provider regarding
diet specifications.

● Refrain from smoking.
● Follow medication regimen, and follow up with the

provider as needed.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
Older adults have an increased risk for heart failure and
can have worse manifestations due to increased systolic
blood pressure and some medications.

Left‑sided heart (ventricular) failure
● Hypertension
● Coronary artery disease, angina, MI
● Valvular disease (mitral and aortic)

Right‑sided heart (ventricular) failure
● Left‑sided heart (ventricular) failure
● Right ventricular MI
● Pulmonary problems (COPD, pulmonary fibrosis)

High‑output heart failure
● Increased metabolic needs
● Septicemia (fever)
● Anemia
● Hyperthyroidism

Cardiomyopathy (leading to heart failure)
● Coronary artery disease
● Infection or inflammation of the heart muscle
● Various cancer treatments
● Prolonged alcohol use
● Heredity

EXPECtED FINDINGs
The presence of other chronic illnesses (lung disease,
kidney failure) can mask the presence of heart failure in
older adult clients.

Left‑sided failure
● Dyspnea, orthopnea (shortness of breath while lying

down), nocturnal dyspnea
● Fatigue
● Displaced apical pulse (hypertrophy)
● S3 heart sound (gallop)
● Pulmonary congestion (dyspnea, cough, bibasilar crackles)
● Frothy sputum (can be blood‑tinged)

● Altered mental status
● Manifestations of organ failure, such as oliguria

(decrease in urine output)
● Nocturia

Right‑sided failure
● Jugular vein distention
● Ascending dependent edema (legs, ankles, sacrum)
● Abdominal distention, ascites
● Fatigue, weakness
● Nausea and anorexia
● Polyuria at rest (nocturnal)
● Liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) and tenderness
● Weight gain

Cardiomyopathy (leading to heart failure)

Blood circulation to the lungs is impaired when the
cardiac pump is compromised. (32.1)

FOUR TYPES
● Dilated (most common)
● Hypertrophic
● Arrhythmogenic right ventricular
● Restrictive

MANIFESTATIONS
● Fatigue, weakness
● Heart failure (left with dilated type, right with

restrictive type)
● Dysrhythmias (heart block)
● S3 gallop
● Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart), more severe with

dilated type
● Angina (hypertrophic type)

LABORAtORY tEsts

Human B‑type natriuretic peptides (hBNP)

In clients who have dyspnea, elevated hBNP confirms
a diagnosis of heart failure rather than a problem
originating in the respiratory system. hBNP levels direct
the aggressiveness of treatment interventions.

● Less than 100 pg/mL indicates no heart failure.
● 100 to 300 pg/mL suggests heart failure is present.
● Greater than 300 pg/mL indicates mild heart failure.
● Greater than 600 pg/mL indicates moderate heart failure.
● Greater than 900 pg/mL indicates severe heart failure.

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Hemodynamic monitoring
● Heart failure generally results in increased central

venous pressure (CVP), increased pulmonary wedge
pressure (PAWP), increased pulmonary artery pressure
(PAP), and decreased cardiac output (CO). See CHAPTER 30:

INVASIVE CARDIOVASCULAR PROCEDURES for detailed
information related to hemodynamic monitoring.

● Mixed venous oxygen saturation (SvO2) is directly
related to cardiac output. A drop in SvO2 indicates
worsening cardiac function.

View Image: Cardiomyopathy

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 32 hEARt FAILURE AND PULmONARY EDEmA 207

Ultrasound

Two‑dimensional or three‑dimensional ultrasound (also
called cardiac ultrasound or echocardiogram) is used to
measure the systolic and diastolic functioning of the heart.

Left ventricular ejection fraction: The volume of blood
pumped from the left ventricle into the arteries upon each
beat. Expected reference range is 55% to 70%.

Right ventricular ejection fraction: The volume of blood
pumped from the right ventricle to the lungs upon each
beat. Expected reference range is 45% to 60%.

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)

Uses a transducer placed in the esophagus behind the
heart to obtain a detailed view of cardiac structures. The
nurse prepares the client for a TEE in the same manner as
for an upper endoscopy.

Chest x‑ray

A chest x‑ray can reveal cardiomegaly and pleural effusions.

ECG, cardiac enzymes, electrolytes, and ABGs

Used to assess factors contributing to heart failure and/or
the impact of heart failure. Monitor potassium level
closely if the client is taking antibiotics.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Monitor daily weight and I&O.
● Assess for shortness of breath and dyspnea on exertion.
● Administer oxygen as prescribed.
● Monitor vital signs and hemodynamic pressures.
● Position the client to maximize ventilation

(high‑Fowler’s).
● Monitor diagnostic results to track progress.
● Assess for manifestations of medication toxicity

(digoxin toxicity).
● Encourage bed rest until the client is stable.
● Encourage energy conservation by assisting with

care and ADLs.
● Maintain dietary restrictions as prescribed (restricted

fluid intake, restricted sodium intake).
● Provide emotional support to the client and family.

mEDICAtIONs
Herbal medications and supplements can interact with
medications taken for disorders of the cardiovascular
system. Obtain a list of herbal supplements the client takes,
and advise the client of potential contraindications.

Diuretics

Diuretics are used to decrease preload.

Loop diuretics , such as furosemide and bumetanide

Thiazide diuretics , such as hydrochlorothiazide

Potassium‑sparing diuretics , such as spironolactone

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer furosemide IV no faster than 20 mg/min.
● Loop and thiazide diuretics can cause hypokalemia, and

potassium supplementation can be required.

CLIENT EDUCATION: If taking loop or thiazide diuretics,
ingest foods and beverages that are high in potassium to
counter the effects of hypokalemia. If taking potassium‑
sparing diuretics, watch for hidden sources of potassium,
such as salt substitutes.

Afterload‑reducing agents

Afterload‑reducing agents help the heart pump more
easily by altering the resistance to contraction. These are
contraindicated for clients who have renal deficiency.

Angiotensin‑converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors , such as
enalapril and captopril

Angiotensin receptor II blockers , such as losartan

Calcium channel blockers , such as diltiazem
and nifedipine

Phosphodiesterase‑3 inhibitors , such as milrinone

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor clients taking ACE inhibitors for hypotension

following the initial dose.
● ACE inhibitors can cause angioedema (swelling of

the tongue and throat), decreased sense of taste, or
skin rash.

● Monitor for increased levels of potassium.

CLIENT EDUCATION: ACE INHIBITORS
● This medication can cause a dry cough.
● Notify the provider if a rash or decreased sense of

taste occurs.
● Notify the provider if swelling of the face or

extremities occurs.
● Blood pressure needs to be monitored for 2 hr after the

initial dose to detect hypotension.

Inotropic agents

Inotropic agents (digoxin, dopamine, dobutamine,
milrinone, levosimendan) are used to increase
contractility and thereby improve cardiac output.

NURSING ACTIONS
● For a client taking digoxin, take the apical heart rate

for 1 min. Hold the medication if apical pulse is less
than 60/min, and notify the provider. For some clients,
the provider might allow the heart rate to be as low
as 50/min.

● Observe the client for nausea and vomiting.
● Dopamine, dobutamine, and milrinone are administered

via IV. The ECG, blood pressure, and urine output must
be closely monitored.

208 CHAPTER 32 hEARt FAILURE AND PULmONARY EDEmA CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CLIENT EDUCATION
If self‑administering digoxin, be sure to:

● Count pulse for 1 min before taking the medication. If
the pulse rate is irregular or the pulse rate is outside of
the limitations set by the provider (usually less than
60/min or greater than 100/min), hold the dose and
contact the provider.

● Take the digoxin dose at the same time each day.
● Do not take digoxin at the same time as antacids.

Separate the two medications by at least 2 hr.
● Report manifestations of toxicity, including fatigue,

muscle weakness, confusion, and loss of appetite.
● Have blood digoxin and potassium levels

checked regularly.

Beta adrenergic blockers (beta blockers)

Medications such as carvedilol and metoprolol can be
used to improve the condition of the client who has
sustained increased levels of sympathetic stimulation and
catecholamines. This includes clients who have chronic
heart failure.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor blood pressure, pulse, activity tolerance,

and orthopnea.
● Check orthostatic blood pressure readings.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Weigh daily.
● Check blood pressure daily.
● Follow the provider’s instructions for increasing

medication dosage.

Vasodilators

Nitroglycerin and isosorbide mononitrate prevent coronary
artery vasospasm and reduce preload and afterload,
decreasing myocardial oxygen demand.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Vasodilators are given to treat angina and help control

blood pressure.
● Use cautiously with other antihypertensive mediations.
● Vasodilators can cause orthostatic hypotension.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● A headache is a common adverse effect of

this medication.
● Change positions down slowly.

Hyperpolarization‑activated cyclic nucleotide‑
gated channel blocker (HCN channel blocker)

● Slows heart rate by inhibiting sinus node channel
● Used for clients who can not take beta blockers or are

receiving the maximum dose

Human B‑type natriuretic peptides

hBNPs, such as nesiritide, are used to treat acute heart
failure by causing natriuresis (loss of sodium and
vasodilation). They are administered IV.

NURSING ACTIONS
● hBNPs can cause hypotension, as well as a number

of cardiac effects, including ventricular tachycardia
and bradycardia.

● BNP levels will increase while on this medication.
● Monitor ECG, blood pressure, and other parameters.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● This medication can decrease the blood pressure,

sometimes without warning.
● Sit and lie down slowly.

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants, such as warfarin, can be prescribed if the
client has a history of thrombus formation.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Assess for contraindications: active bleeding, peptic

ulcer disease, history of cerebrovascular accident, and
recent trauma.

● Monitor bleeding times: PT, aPTT, INR, and CBC.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Remember the risk for bruising and bleeding while on

this medication.
● Have blood monitored routinely to check bleeding times.

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
Cardiology and pulmonary services should be consulted
to manage heart failure.

Respiratory services should be consulted for inhalers,
breathing treatments, and suctioning for airway
management.

Cardiac rehabilitation services can be consulted if the
client has prolonged weakness and needs assistance with
increasing level of activity.

Nutritional services can be consulted for diet modification
to promote low‑sodium and low‑saturated fat food choices.

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs

Ventricular assist device (VAD)

A VAD is a mechanical pump that assists a heart that is
too weak to pump blood through the body. It is used in
clients who are awaiting heart transplants or who have
severe end‑stage heart failure and are not candidates for
heart transplants.

● Heart transplantation is the treatment of choice for
clients who have severe dilated cardiomyopathy.

● Contraindications to VAD surgery include severe
chronic lung disease, end‑stage kidney disease,
clotting disorders, and infections unresponsive to
antibiotic therapy.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prepare the client for the procedure (NPO status and

informed consent).
● Monitor postoperatively: vital signs, SaO2, incision

drainage, and pain management.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 32 hEARt FAILURE AND PULmONARY EDEmA 209

Heart transplantation
● Heart transplantation is a possible option for clients who

have end‑stage heart failure. Immunosuppressant therapy
is required post‑transplantation to prevent rejection.

● Eligibility for transplantation depends on several factors,
including life expectancy, age, psychosocial status, and
absence of substance use disorders.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prepare the client for the procedure (NPO status and

informed consent).
● Monitor postoperatively: vital signs, SaO2, incision

drainage, and pain management.
● Monitor for complications. Organ transplant recipients

are at risk for infection, thrombosis, and rejection. See
CHAPTER 58: KIDNEY TRANSPLANT for details related to
these complications.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Take diuretics in the early morning and early afternoon.
● Restrict fluid and sodium as instructed. Regulate

potassium intake as instructed to prevent high
or low potassium levels. A dietitian can help with
menu planning.

● Check weight daily at the same time, and notify the
provider for a weight gain of 2 lb in 24 hr or 5 lb in 1 week.

● Schedule regular follow‑up visits with the provider.
● Obtain the pneumococcal and yearly influenza vaccines.

COMPLICATIONS

Acute pulmonary edema

Acute pulmonary edema is a life‑threatening
medical emergency. Effective intervention should result
in diuresis (carefully monitor output), reduction in
respiratory distress, improved lung sounds, and adequate
oxygenation.

EXPECTED FINDINGS: Anxiety, tachycardia, acute
respiratory distress, dyspnea at rest, change in level of
consciousness, and an ascending fluid level within the lungs
(crackles, cough productive of frothy, blood‑tinged sputum).

NURSING ACTIONS
● Prompt response to this emergency includes the following.

◯ Positioning the client in high‑Fowler’s position
◯ Administration of oxygen, positive airway pressure,
intubation and mechanical ventilation

◯ IV morphine (to decrease anxiety, respiratory distress,
and decrease venous return)

● IV administration of rapid‑acting loop diuretics, such
as furosemide. Administer prescribed medications to
improve cardiac output.

● Teach the client about measures to improve tolerance
to activity, such as alternating periods of activity with
periods of rest.

Cardiogenic shock

This is a serious complication of pump failure that occurs
commonly following an MI with injury to greater than
40% of the left ventricle.

EXPECTED FINDINGS: Tachycardia, hypotension,
inadequate urinary output, altered level of consciousness,
respiratory distress (crackles, tachypnea), cool, clammy
skin, decreased peripheral pulses, chest pain

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor breath sounds. Assess for crackles or wheezing.
● Monitor heart sounds.
● Administration of oxygen, intubation, and ventilation

can be required.
● Administer IV morphine, diuretics, and/or nitroglycerin

to decrease preload. Administer IV vasopressors
and/or positive inotropes to increase cardiac output and
maintain organ perfusion.

● Provide continuous hemodynamic monitoring.

Pericardial tamponade

Cardiac tamponade can result from fluid accumulation in
the pericardial sac.

EXPECTED FINDINGS: Hypotension, jugular venous
distention, muffled heart sounds, and paradoxical pulse
(variance of 10 mm Hg or more in systolic blood pressure
between expiration and inspiration)

DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES: Hemodynamic monitoring
will reveal intracardiac and pulmonary artery pressures
similar and elevated (plateau pressures).

NURSING ACTIONS
● Notify the provider immediately.
● Administer IV fluids to combat hypotension while

monitoring for fluid overload.
● Obtain a chest x‑ray or echocardiogram to

confirm diagnosis.
● Prepare the client for pericardiocentesis (informed

consent, gather materials, administer medications
as appropriate).

● Monitor hemodynamic pressures to ensure
they normalize.

● Monitor heart rhythm; changes can indicate improper
positioning of the needle.

● Monitor for reoccurrence of findings after the procedure.

Pulmonary edema
Cardiogenic factors are the most common cause of
pulmonary edema. It is a complication of various heart and
lung diseases and usually occurs from increased pulmonary
vascular pressure secondary to severe cardiac dysfunction.

Noncardiac pulmonary edema can occur due to
barbiturate or opiate toxicity, inhalation of irritating
gases, rapid administration of IV fluids, and after a
pneumonectomy evacuation of pleural effusion.

Neurogenic pulmonary edema develops following a
head injury.

210 CHAPTER 32 hEARt FAILURE AND PULmONARY EDEmA CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

OLDER ADULTS: Increased risk for pulmonary edema
related to decreased cardiac output and heart failure

● Increased risk for fluid and electrolyte imbalances
occurs when the older adult client receives treatment
with diuretics.

● IV infusions must be administered at a slower rate to
prevent circulatory overload.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Remain physically active, but consult with the provider
before starting any exercise regimen.

● Consume a diet low in sodium; some clients require
fluid restrictions. (Consult with the provider regarding
diet specifications.)

● Refrain from tobacco use.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
● Acute MI
● Fluid volume overload
● Hypertension
● Valvular heart disease
● Postpneumonectomy
● Postevacuation of pleural effusion
● Acute respiratory failure
● Left‑sided heart failure
● High altitude exposure or deep‑sea diving
● Trauma
● Sepsis
● Medication toxicity

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Anxiety
● Inability to sleep
● Persistent cough with pink, frothy sputum (key finding)
● Tachypnea, dyspnea, and orthopnea
● Hypoxemia
● Cyanosis (later stage)
● Crackles
● Tachycardia
● Reduced urine output
● Confusion, stupor
● S3 heart sound (gallop)
● Increased pulmonary artery occlusion pressure

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Position the client in high‑Fowler’s position with feet

and legs dependent or sitting on the side of the bed to
decrease preload.

● Administer high‑flow oxygen using a face mask or
non‑rebreather mask. Bilevel positive airway pressure
or intubation/ventilation can become necessary. Be
prepared to intervene quickly.

● Monitor vital signs every 15 min until stable.
● Monitor intake and output.
● Monitor hemodynamic status (pulmonary wedge

pressures, cardiac output).
● Check ABGs, electrolytes (especially potassium if on

diuretics), SaO2, and chest x‑ray findings.
● Maintain a patent airway. Suction as needed.
● Restrict fluid intake (slow or discontinue infusing

IV fluids).
● Monitor hourly urine output. Watch for intake greater

than output or hourly urine less than 30 mL/hr.
● Provide emotional support for the client and family.

mEDICAtIONs
Rapid‑acting diuretics , such as furosemide and
bumetanide, promote fluid excretion.

Morphine decreases sympathetic nervous system response
and anxiety and promotes mild vasodilation.

Vasodilators (nitroglycerin, sodium nitroprusside)
decrease preload and afterload.

Inotropic agents , such as digoxin and dobutamine,
improve cardiac output.

Antihypertensives , such as ACE inhibitors and
beta‑blockers, decrease afterload.

CLIENt EDUCAtION
● Use techniques to promote effective

breathing techniques.
● Understand prescribed medications and how to

administer them.
● Continue to take medications even if feeling better.
● Follow instructions for reasons to contact the provider.
● Remain on a low‑sodium diet and restrict fluids

as prescribed.
● Measure weight daily at the same time. Notify the

provider of a gain of more than 2 lb in 1 day or 5 lb
in 1 week.

● Report swelling of feet or ankles or any shortness of
breath or angina.

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 32 hEARt FAILURE AND PULmONARY EDEmA 211

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse in a cardiac rehabilitation program is teaching a
class on heart failure to a group of clients. What should
the nurse include in this presentation? Use the AtI Active
Learning template: system Disorder to complete this item.

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS): Describe the
difference between left‑ and right‑sided heart failure.

LABORATORY TESTS: Describe one and its importance.

DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES: Describe two.

MEDICATIONS: Describe two groups of medications
and an example of one medication for each group.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who has heart failure
and reports increased shortness of breath. Which of
the following actions should the nurse take first?

A. Obtain the client’s weight.

B. Assist the client into high‑Fowler’s position.

C. Auscultate lungs sounds.

D. Check oxygen saturation with pulse oximeter.

2. A nurse is teaching a client who heart failure and
new prescriptions for furosemide and digoxin.
Which of the following information should
the nurse include? (select all that apply).

A. Weigh daily, first thing each morning.

B. Decrease intake of potassium.

C. Expect muscle weakness while taking digoxin.

D. hold digoxin if heart rate is less than 70/min.

E. Decrease sodium intake.

3. A nurse is completing the admission assessment
of a client who has suspected pulmonary edema.
Which of the following manifestations are
expected findings? (select all that apply.)

A. tachypnea

B. Persistent cough

C. Increased urinary output

D. thick, yellow sputum

E. Orthopnea

4. A nurse is talking with a client who has class
I heart failure and asks about obtaining a
ventricular assist device (vAD). Which of the
following statement should the nurse make?

A. ”vADs are only implanted during
heart transplantation.”

B. “A vAD helps to pace the heart.”

C. “vADs are used when heart failure is
not responsive to medications.”

D. “A vAD is useful for clients who also
have a chronic lung issue.”

5. A nurse is providing discharge teaching for a client
who has heart failure and is on a fluid restriction
of 2,000 mL/day. the client asks the nurse how to
determine the appropriate amount of fluids they
are allowed. Which of the following statements
is an appropriate response by the nurse?

A. “Pour the amount of fluid you drink into an empty
2‑liter bottle to keep track of how much you drink.”

B. “Each glass contains 8 ounces. there are
30 milliliters per ounce, so you can have a
total of 8 glasses or cups of fluid each day.”

C. “this is the same as 2 quarts, or about
the same as two pots of coffee.”

D. “take sips of water or ice chips so you
will not take in too much fluid.”

212 CHAPTER 32 hEARt FAILURE AND PULmONARY EDEmA CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. Check the client’s weight to monitor for weight gain.
however, another action is the priority.

B. CORRECT: Using the airway, breathing, and circulation
(ABC) priority approach to client care, the first action
to take is to assist the client into high‑Fowler’s
position. this will decrease venous return to the heart
(preload) and help relieve lung congestion.

C. Auscultate lung sounds to monitor for adventitious sounds,
such as crackles. however, another action is the priority.

D. Check the client’s oxygen saturation to monitor for a
decrease. however, another action is the priority.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Medical Emergencies

2. A. CORRECT: Weighing daily when first getting out of bed
will assist the client in tracking fluid loss and gain.

B. Increase intake of potassium to prevent
hypokalemia while taking furosemide, which
increases the risk for digoxin toxicity.

C. Report muscle weakness while taking digoxin
as an indication of possible toxicity.

D. hold digoxin if heart rate less than 50 to 60/min. the
provider will prescribe the parameters for the client.

E. CORRECT: Decrease sodium intake to prevent fluid retention,
which could worsen heart failure manifestations.

NCLEX® Connection: Basic Care and Comfort,
Nutrition and Oral Hydration

3. A. CORRECT: tachypnea is an expected finding in
a client who has pulmonary edema.

B. CORRECT: A persistent cough with pink, frothy sputum is an
expected finding in a client who has pulmonary edema.

C. Decreased urinary output is an expected finding
in a client who has pulmonary edema.

D. Pink, frothy sputum is an expected finding in
a client who has pulmonary edema.

E. CORRECT: Orthopnea is an expected finding
in a client who has pulmonary edema.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

4. A. A vAD is often placed for clients awaiting heart
transplant, to maintain adequate circulation.

B. A vAD is a pump that promotes blood
circulation throughout the body.

C. CORRECT: One use for a vAD is to prolong life for clients who
have become unresponsive to heart failure medications.

D. Implantation of a vAD is contraindicated for
clients who also have a chronic lung issue.

NCLEX® Connection: Basic Care and Comfort,
Nutrition and Oral Hydration

5. A. CORRECT: Pouring the amount of fluid consumed into an
empty 2 L bottle provides a visual guide for the client as to
the amount consumed and how to plan daily intake.

B. Glasses and cups vary in size and can
contain more than 8 oz.

C. Offering a vague frame of reference does not
assist with accurate fluid measurement.

D. suggesting that the client take sips of water or ice chips
does not assist with accurate fluid measurement.

NCLEX® Connection: Basic Care and Comfort,
Nutrition and Oral Hydration

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS): Left‑sided heart failure results
in inadequate output from the left ventricle, leading to poor tissue
perfusion. systolic failure includes an ejection fraction below 40%
with pulmonary and systemic congestion. Diastolic failure includes
stiffening or inadequate relaxation of the ventricle. Right‑sided
heart failure results in inadequate output from the right ventricle,
leading to systemic venous congestion and peripheral edema.

LABORATORY TESTS: human B‑type natriuretic
peptides (hBNP) confirms a diagnosis of heart failure, and
findings direct the aggressiveness of the treatment.

DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES
● hemodynamic monitoring
● Ultrasound
● Chest x‑ray
● Electrocardiogram

MEDICATIONS
● Diuretics: furosemide, bumetanide,
hydrochlorothiazide, spironolactone

● Afterload‑reducing agents: enalapril, captopril,
losartan, diltiazem, nifedipine, milrinone

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Alterations in
Body Systems

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 33 vALvULAR hEARt DIsEAsE 213

UNIT 4 CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: CARDIAC DISORDERS

CHAPTER 33 Valvular Heart
Disease

valvular heart disease describes an abnormality
or dysfunction of any of the heart’s four valves:
the mitral and aortic valves (left side), the
tricuspid, and pulmonic valves (right side).
tricuspid valve dysfunction occurs secondary to
endocarditis or Iv illicit drug use, and is rare.

valve dysfunction affects the efficiency of the
heart as a pump and reduces stroke volume.
Over time, there might be remodeling of the
heart itself (hypertrophy) and heart failure.

With age, fibrotic thickening occurs in the
mitral and aortic valves. the aorta is stiffer in
older adult clients, increasing systolic blood
pressure and stress on the mitral valve. (33.1)

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Prevent and treat bacterial infections.
● Encourage clients to consume a diet
low in sodium and to follow fluid
restrictions prescribed by the provider
to prevent heart failure.

● Control chronic illnesses
(diabetes mellitus, hypertension,
hypercholesterolemia).

● Encourage increased activity and
exercise to boost high‑density
lipoprotein (HDL) levels.

ASSESSMENT
● Valvular heart disease is classified as:

◯ Stenosis: Narrowed opening impedes blood
moving forward.

◯ Insufficiency/Improper closure: Some blood flows
backward (regurgitation).

● Valvular heart disease can have congenital or
acquired causes.

◯ Congenital valvular heart disease can affect all four
valves and cause either stenosis or insufficiency.

◯ Acquired valvular heart disease is classified as one of
three types:

■ Degenerative disease: Due to damage over time
from mechanical stress, atherosclerosis, and
hypertension. Most common in developed countries.

■ Rheumatic disease: Gradual fibrotic changes,
calcification of valve cusps. Most common in
developing countries.

■ Infective endocarditis: Infectious organisms
destroy the valve. Streptococcal infections are a
common cause.

RIsK FACtORs
● Hypertension
● Rheumatic fever (mitral stenosis and insufficiency)
● Infective endocarditis
● Congenital malformations
● Marfan syndrome (connective tissue disorder that

affects the heart and other areas of the body)
● In older adult clients, the predominant causes of

valvular heart disease are degenerative calcification and
atherosclerosis, papillary muscle dysfunction, and
infective endocarditis.

CHAPTER 33

33.1 Heart valve blood flow comparison

214 CHAPTER 33 vALvULAR hEARt DIsEAsE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Clients who have valvular heart disease often do not

have manifestations until late in the progression of
the disease.

● A murmur is heard with turbulent blood flow. The
location of the murmur and timing (diastolic
versus systolic) help determine the valve involved.
Murmurs are graded on a scale of I (very faint) to VI
(extremely loud).

● Left‑sided valve damage causes increased pulmonary
artery pressure, left ventricular hypertrophy, and
decreased cardiac output, resulting in orthopnea,
paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (PND), and fatigue. (33.2)

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs
Chest x‑ray shows chamber enlargement (with stenosis
and insufficiencies) and pulmonary congestion (with
aortic stenosis).

12‑lead electrocardiogram (ECG) shows chamber
hypertrophy.

Echocardiogram shows chamber size, hypertrophy,
specific valve dysfunction, ejection function, and amount
of regurgitant flow.

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) provides
visualization of the mitral and aortic valves; can be used
intraoperatively during valve replacement and repair.

Exercise tolerance testing/stress echocardiography is
used to assess the impact of the valve problem on cardiac
functioning during stress.

Radionuclide studies determine ejection fraction during
activity and rest.

Angiography is used to evaluate the coronary arteries
and the degree of atherosclerosis. Cardiac catheterization
might be used as a diagnostic tool in valvular disease.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Monitor current weight and note recent changes.
● Assess heart rhythm (can be irregular or bradycardic,

assess for murmur).
● Administer oxygen and medications.
● Assess hemodynamic monitoring. Maintain fluid and

sodium restrictions.
● Assist the client to conserve energy.

mEDICAtIONs

Diuretics

Diuretics are used to treat heart failure by removing
excessive extracellular fluid.

● Loop diuretics, such as furosemide
● Thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide
● Potassium‑sparing diuretics, such as spironolactone

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer furosemide IV slowly over 1 to 2 minutes.
● Monitor for hypokalemia with loop and thiazide diuretics,

and administer potassium supplements as indicated.

CLIENT EDUCATION: If taking loop or thiazide diuretics,
ingest foods (dried fruits, nuts, spinach, citrus fruits,
bananas and potatoes) and beverages that are high in
potassium to decrease the risk of developing
hypokalemia.

Afterload‑reducing agents

Afterload‑reducing agents help the heart pump more
easily by altering the resistance to contraction.

● Angiotensin‑converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
(enalapril , captopril, lisinopril)

● Angiotensin‑receptor blockers (losartan, valsartan)

33.2 Left‑sided valve damage

Mitral stenosis
Apical diastolic murmur
Dyspnea on exertion
Orthopnea
Atrial fibrillation
Palpitations
Fatigue
Jugular venous distention
Pitting edema
hemoptysis
Dry cough
PND
hepatomegaly

Mitral insufficiency
systolic murmur at the apex
s3 sounds
Fatigue and weakness
Atrial fibrillation
Dyspnea on exertion
Orthopnea
Atypical chest pain
Palpitations
Jugular venous distention
Pitting edema
Possible diminished
lung sounds
PND
hepatomegaly

Aortic stenosis
systolic murmur
Dyspnea on exertion
s4 sounds
Angina
syncope on exertion
Fatigue
Orthopnea
PND
Narrowed pulse pressure

Aortic insufficiency
Diastolic murmur
sinus tachycardia
Exertional dyspnea
Orthopnea
Palpitations
Fatigue
Nocturnal angina
with diaphoresis
Widened pulse pressure
Bounding arterial pulse on
palpation (Corrigan’s pulse)
Elevated systolic and
diminished diastolic pressures
PND

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 33 vALvULAR hEARt DIsEAsE 215

● Beta‑blockers, metoprolol, carvedilol
● Calcium‑channel blockers (felodipine,

nifedipine, amlodipine)
● Vasodilators, such as hydralazine

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor clients taking ACE inhibitors
for initial dose hypotension.

Inotropic agents

Inotropic agents, such as digoxin, are used to increase
contractility and thereby improve cardiac output.

CLIENT EDUCATION
If self‑administering digoxin:

● Count pulse for 1 min before taking the medication. If
the pulse rate is irregular or the pulse rate is outside
of the limitations set by the provider (usually less than
60/min or greater than 100/min), the hold the dose and
contact the provider.

● Take the dose of digoxin at the same time every day.
● Do not take digoxin at the same time as antacids.

Separate the two medications by at least 2 hr
● Report manifestations of toxicity, including fatigue,

muscle weakness, confusion, visual changes, and loss
of appetite.

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulation therapy is used for clients who have a
mechanical valve replacement, atrial fibrillation, or severe
left ventricle dysfunction.

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs
NURSING ACTIONS: Postsurgery care is similar to coronary
artery bypass surgery (care for sternal incision, activity
limited for 6 weeks, report fever).

Percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty

This procedure can open aortic or mitral valves affected
by stenosis. A catheter is inserted through the femoral
artery and advanced to the heart. A balloon is inflated at
the stenotic lesion to open the fused commissures and
improve leaflet mobility.

Valve replacement

This procedure replaces damaged heart valves with
mechanical, xenografts (from other species), allografts
(from cadavers), or autografts (formed from the client’s
pulmonic valve and a portion of the pulmonary artery).
It is often done with an open‑heart approach, although
minimally invasive surgery is also performed in
some instances.

● Mechanical valves require lifelong
anticoagulant therapy.

● Tissue valves need to be replaced every 7 to 10 years.

Miscellaneous surgical management
● Other surgeries used in the treatment of valvular

disorders include chordae tendineae reconstruction,
commissurotomy (relieve stenosis on leaflets),
annuloplasty ring insertion (correct dilatation of valve
annulus by narrowing the opening), and leaflet repair.

● Medical management is appropriate for many older
adult clients; surgery is indicated when manifestations
interfere with daily activities. The goal of surgery can
be to improve the quality of life rather than to
prolong life.

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
● Respiratory services should be consulted for

inhalers, breathing treatments, and suctioning for
airway management.

● Cardiology can be consulted for cardiac management.
● Nutritional services can be contacted for weight loss or

gain related to medications or diagnosis.
● Rehabilitative care might need to be consulted if the

client has prolonged weakness and needs assistance
with increasing level of activity.

CLIENt EDUCAtION
● Prophylactic antibiotic use is important before any

invasive dental or respiratory procedure.
● Weigh daily and notify the provider of 3 lb (1.4 kg) gain

in 1 day or 5 lb (2.3 kg) gain in 1 week.
● Coordinate activities with planned rest periods.
● Follow the prescribed exercise program.
● Adhere to dietary restrictions, including avoidance of

caffeine and alcohol; consider nutritional consultation.
● Perform energy conservation.
● Open wounds need to be cleaned carefully and antibiotic

ointment should be used.
● Read labels of over‑the‑counter medication to avoid

those which include alcohol, ephedrine, or epinephrine
(might cause dysrhythmias).

● Report manifestations of heart failure, fever, or
petechial rash to the provider immediately.

COMPLICATIONS

Heart failure

Heart failure is the inability of the heart to maintain
adequate circulation to meet tissue needs for oxygen and
nutrients. Ineffective valves result in heart failure.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitoring the client’s heart failure
class (I to IV) is often the gauge for surgical intervention
for valvular problems.

216 CHAPTER 33 vALvULAR hEARt DIsEAsE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse educator is preparing a poster on valvular heart
disease to be displayed at a health fair. What content should
be included on the poster? Use the AtI Active Learning
template: system Disorder to complete this item.

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS)
● Describe the difference between valve
stenosis and insufficiency.

● Describe the difference between acquired
and congenital valvular heart disease.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Describe two
actions to prevent valvular disease.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is completing discharge teaching with a
client who had a surgical placement of a mechanical
heart valve. Which of the following statements by
the client indicates understanding of the teaching?

A. “I will be glad to get back to my
exercise routine right away.”

B. “I will have my prothrombin time
checked on a regular basis.”

C. “I will talk to my dentist about no longer
needing antibiotics before dental exams.”

D. “I will continue to limit my intake of
foods containing potassium.”

2. A nurse is completing the admission physical
assessment of a client who has mitral
valve insufficiency. Which of the following
findings should the nurse expect?

A. s4 heart sound

B. Petechiae

C. Neck vein distention

D. splenomegaly

3. A nurse is reviewing the health record of a client who
is being evaluated for possible valvular heart disease.
the nurse should recognize which of the following data
as risk factors for this condition? (select all that apply.)

A. surgical repair of an atrial septal defect at age 2

B. measles infection during childhood

C. hypertension for 5 years

D. Weight gain of 10 lb in past year

E. Diastolic murmur present

4. A nurse is caring for an older adult client who is to
undergo a percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty. the
client’s family member asks the nurse to explain
the expected outcome of this procedure. Which of
the following responses should the nurse give?

A. “this will improve blood flow of
the coronary arteries.”

B. “this will assist with the ability to
perform activities of daily living.”

C. “this will prolong the life span of
living with this valve disorder.”

D. “this will reverse the effects to the damaged area.”

5. A nurse educator is reviewing expected findings
in a client who has right‑sided valvular heart
disease with a group of nurses. Which of the
following findings should the nurse include
in the discussion? (select all that apply.)

A. Dyspnea

B. Client report of fatigue

C. Bradycardia

D. Pleural friction rub

E. Peripheral edema

RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 33 vALvULAR hEARt DIsEAsE 217

Application Exercises Key

1. A. the client will be on activity limitation for 6 weeks
following surgery for a heart valve replacement.

B. CORRECT: Anticoagulant therapy with warfarin is
necessary for the client following placement of a
mechanical heart valve; the client’s prothrombin
time will be checked on a regular basis.

C. Antibiotic therapy is recommended prior to dental
work following placement of a heart valve.

D. Dietary recommendations include limiting
foods containing sodium.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Alterations in Body Systems

2. A. An s3 heart sound is an expected finding in a client who
has mitral valve insufficiency. An s4 heart sound is an
expected finding for a client who has aortic stenosis.

B. Petechiae is an expected finding in a client
who has infective endocarditis.

C. CORRECT: Neck vein distention is an expected
finding in a client who has pulmonary congestion
due to mitral valve insufficiency.

D. hepatomegaly, not splenomegaly, is an expected finding
in a client who has left‑sided heart valve damage.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

3. A. CORRECT: A history of congenital malformations
is a risk factor for valvular heart disease.

B. having a streptococcal infection or rheumatic fever during
childhood is a risk factor for valvular heart disease.

C. CORRECT: hypertension places a client
at risk for valvular heart disease.

D. A sudden weight gain of 10 lb could indicate fluid
collection related to left‑sided valvular heart disease.

E. CORRECT: A murmur indicates turbulent blood flow,
which is often due to valvular heart disease.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

4. A. A valvuloplasty improves blood flow through a
heart valve by opening the fused commissures and
allowing valve leaflets greater mobility. It does not
improve blood flow in the coronary arteries.

B. CORRECT: surgery is indicated for older adult clients when
manifestations interfere with activities of daily living.

C. surgical interventions can improve the client’s quality
of life, but they will not necessarily prolong life.

D. A valvuloplasty improves blood flow through a heart
valve by opening the fused commissures and allowing
valve leaflets greater mobility. It does not reverse the
damage that has already occurred to the valve.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Therapeutic Procedures

5. A. CORRECT: Dyspnea is a manifestation of
right‑sided valvular heart disease.

B. CORRECT: A client’s report of fatigue is a manifestation
of right‑sided valvular heart disease.

C. A normal or rapid pulse and an irregular rhythm are
manifestations of right‑sided valvular heart disease.

D. A pleural friction rub is a manifestation
of pleurisy or pneumonia.

E. CORRECT: Peripheral edema is a manifestation
of right‑sided valvular heart disease.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS)
● stenosis is the narrowed opening of a heart valve, which
prevents blood from moving forward. Insufficiency is the
improper closure of a valve resulting in blood flowing
backward (regurgitation) through the valve.

● Congenital valvular heart disease can affect all four valves and
can cause either stenosis or insufficiency. Acquired valvular heart
disease occurs due to degenerative changes from mechanical
stress over time; rheumatic disease, which causes calcifications
and fibrotic changes, often to the mitral valve; and infective
endocarditis, in which infectious organisms destroy the valve.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Prevent and manage hypertension.
● Prevent and seek early treatment of bacterial infections.
● Consume a low‑sodium diet.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

218 CHAPTER 33 vALvULAR hEARt DIsEAsE CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 34 INFLAmmAtORY DIsORDERs 219

UNIT 4 CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: CARDIAC DISORDERS

CHAPTER 34 Inflammatory
Disorders

Inflammation related to the heart is an extended
inflammatory response that often leads to the
destruction of healthy tissue. this primarily
includes the layers of the heart.

Inflammatory disorders related to the
cardiovascular system that nurses should be
familiar with include pericarditis, myocarditis,
rheumatic endocarditis, and infective endocarditis.

HEALTH PROMOTION AND
DISEASE PREVENTION

● Early treatment of streptococcal infections can prevent
rheumatic fever.

● Prophylactic treatments (including antibiotics
for clients who have cardiac defects) can prevent
infective endocarditis.

● Influenza and pneumonia immunizations are important
for all clients (especially older adults) in order to
decrease the incidence of myocarditis.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
● Congenital heart defect/cardiac anomalies
● Intravenous substance use
● Heart valve replacement
● Immunosuppression
● Rheumatic fever and other infections
● School‑age children who have a long duration of

streptococcus infection
● Malnutrition
● Overcrowding
● Lower socioeconomic status

EXPECtED FINDINGs
Pericarditis: Inflammation of the pericardium

● Commonly follows a respiratory infection.
● Can be due to a myocardial infarction.
● Can be due to acute exacerbation of a systemic

connective tissue disease.
● Findings include chest pressure/pain aggravated

by breathing (mainly inspiration), coughing, and
swallowing; pericardial friction rub auscultated at left
lower sternal border; shortness of breath; and relief of
pain when sitting and leaning forward.

Myocarditis: Inflammation of the myocardium
● Can be due to a viral, fungal, or bacterial infection, or a

systemic inflammatory disease (Crohn’s disease).
● Findings include tachycardia, murmur, friction rub

auscultated in the lungs, cardiomegaly, chest pain,
and dysrhythmias.

Rheumatic endocarditis: An infection of the endocardium
due to a complication of rheumatic fever.

● Preceded by group A beta‑hemolytic streptococcal
pharyngitis

● Produces lesions in the heart
● Findings include fever, chest pain, joint pain,

tachycardia, shortness of breath, rash on trunk and
extremities, friction rub, murmur, muscle spasms

Infective endocarditis: Infection of the endocardium
due to staphylococci, streptococci, fungi or other
infectious organisms

● Most common in clients who have structural cardiac
malformations, cardiac devices (pacemaker), prosthetic
heart valves, or IV substance use disorder.

● Invasive procedures (dental procedures, body piercing,
tattooing) can cause bacteremia, which can lead to
infective endocarditis in at‑risk clients.

● Findings include fever, flu‑like manifestations, murmur,
petechiae (on the trunk and mucous membranes),
positive blood cultures, and splinter hemorrhages (red
streaks under the nail beds).

LABORAtORY tEsts
● Blood cultures can detect a bacterial infection.
● An elevated WBC count can be indicative of a

bacterial infection.
● Cardiac enzymes can be elevated with pericarditis.
● Elevated ESR and CRP indicate inflammation in the body.
● Throat cultures can detect a streptococcal infection,

which can lead to rheumatic fever.

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Electrocardiography (ECG)

Can detect a heart block, which is associated with
rheumatic fever or demonstrate ST segment elevation in
almost all leads in the case of pericarditis

Echocardiography

Can reveal inflamed heart layers or pericardial effusion

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Auscultate heart sounds. (Listen for murmur or

friction rub.)
● Review ABGs, SaO2, and chest x‑ray results.
● Administer oxygen.
● Monitor vital signs. (Watch for fever.)
● Monitor ECG, and notify the provider of changes.
● Monitor for cardiac tamponade and heart failure.

CHAPTER 34

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220 CHAPTER 34 INFLAmmAtORY DIsORDERs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

● Obtain throat cultures to identify bacteria to be treated
by antibiotic therapy.

● Administer antibiotics.
● Administer antipyretics.
● Assess onset, quality, duration, and severity of pain.
● Administer pain medication.
● Encourage bed rest.
● Provide emotional support to the client and family, and

encourage verbalization of feelings regarding the illness.

mEDICAtIONs

Penicillin

Antibiotic given to treat infection

NURSING ACTIONS
● Monitor for skin rash and hives.
● Monitor electrolyte and kidney levels.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Report skin rash or hives.
● The medication can cause gastrointestinal (GI) distress.

Ibuprofen

NSAIDs are given to treat fever and inflammation
associated with pericarditis. No longer used for treatment
of pain and inflammation with myocarditis.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Do not use with clients who have peptic ulcer disease.
● Watch for indications of GI distress.
● Monitor platelets, and liver and kidney function levels.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● The medication can cause GI distress. Taking with food

reduces the risk.
● Avoid alcohol consumption while taking the medication.

Prednisone

Glucocorticosteroid given to treat inflammation

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use in low doses.
● Monitor blood pressure.
● Monitor electrolytes and blood sugar levels.
● Monitor for impaired healing in clients taking

this medication.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Take the medication with food.
● Avoid stopping the medication abruptly.
● Report unexpected weight gain.

Amphotericin B

Antifungal given to treat fungal infection

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor liver and kidney
function levels.

CLIENT EDUCATION: The medication can cause GI distress.

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE
● Cardiology services are consulted to manage

cardiac dysfunction.
● Infectious disease services can be consulted to

manage infection.
● Physical therapy can be consulted to increase the

client’s level of activity once prescribed.

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs

Pericarditis

Pericardiocentesis is the insertion of a needle into the
pericardium to aspirate pericardial fluid. This can be done
in the emergency department or a procedure room.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Pericardial fluid can be sent to the laboratory for culture

and sensitivity.
● Monitor for reoccurrence of cardiac tamponade.

Infective endocarditis

Valve debridement, draining of abscess, and repairing
congenital shunts are procedures involved with infective
endocarditis.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for indications of bleeding,
infection, and alteration in cardiac output.

CLIENt EDUCAtION
● Take rest periods as needed.
● Wash hands to prevent infection.
● Avoid crowded areas to reduce the risk of infection.
● Good oral hygiene and the prevention of infection

is important.
● Taking medications as prescribed is important.
● Demonstrate the administration of intravenous

antibiotics and management before discharge.
● Participate in cessation of tobacco use if applicable.
● Understand the illness, and express any feelings.
● Advise all providers, including dentists, of history of

endocarditis so that antibiotic prophylaxis is prescribed
if needed.

CARE AFTER DISCHARGE
● Home health services can be indicated if the client

had surgery.
● Intravenous antibiotic therapy can be given by the home

health service.
● Pharmaceutical services can be indicated for IV supplies

and medications.
● Rehabilitation services can be indicated to help the

client increase the level of activity.

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 34 INFLAmmAtORY DIsORDERs 221

COMPLICATIONS

Cardiac tamponade

Cardiac tamponade, considered a medical emergency, can
result from fluid accumulation in the pericardial sac.

● Manifestations include dyspnea, dizziness, report of
“tightness” in the chest, increasing restlessness, pulsus
paradoxus (a decrease of 10 mm Hg or more in systolic
blood pressure during inspiration), tachycardia, muffled
heart sounds, and jugular venous distention.

● Hemodynamic monitoring reveals intracardiac and
pulmonary artery pressures similar and elevated
(plateau pressures).

NURSING ACTIONS
● Notify the provider immediately.
● Administer IV fluids to combat hypotension.
● Obtain a chest x‑ray or echocardiogram to confirm

the diagnosis.
● Prepare the client for pericardiocentesis (informed consent,

gather materials, administer medications as prescribed).
◯ Monitor hemodynamic pressures to ensure
they normalize.

◯ Monitor heart rhythm as changes indicate improper
positioning of the needle.

◯ Monitor for reoccurrence of manifestations after the
procedure.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is reviewing discharge teaching with a client
who has myocarditis. What should the nurse include in
the teaching? Use the AtI Active Learning template:
system Disorder to complete this item.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Identify at least two referral facilities and
the services they can provide.

● Describe at least four actions the client
should take when at home.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who has pericarditis. Which
of the following findings should the nurse expect?

A. Petechiae

B. murmur

C. Rash

D. Friction rub

2. A nurse is caring for four clients. Which of the
following clients should the nurse identify as being
at risk of developing rheumatic endocarditis?

A. Older adult who has chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease

B. Child who has streptococcal pharyngitis

C. middle‑aged adult who has lupus erythematosus

D. Young adult who recently received a body tattoo

3. A nurse in a clinic is caring for a client who has
been on long‑term NsAID therapy to treat
pericarditis. Which of the following laboratory
findings should the nurse report to the provider?

A. Platelets 100,000/mm3

B. serum glucose 110 mg/dL

C. serum creatinine 0.7 mg/dL

D. Amino alanine transferase (ALt) 30 IU/L

4. A nurse is assessing a client who has splinter
hemorrhages of the nail beds and reports a
fever. the nurse should identify these findings as
manifestations of which of the following disorders?

A. Infective endocarditis

B. Pericarditis

C. myocarditis

D. Rheumatic endocarditis

5. A nurse is admitting a client who has suspected
rheumatic endocarditis. the nurse should expect
a prescription for which of the following laboratory
tests to assist in confirmation of this diagnosis?

A. Arterial blood gases

B. serum albumin

C. Liver enzymes

D. throat culture

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222 CHAPTER 34 INFLAmmAtORY DIsORDERs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

Application Exercises Key

1. A. Petechiae are an expected finding in a
client who has endocarditis.

B. A murmur is an expected finding in a client
who has myocarditis and endocarditis.

C. Rash is an expected finding in a client who
has rheumatic endocarditis.

D. CORRECT: A friction rub can be heard during
auscultation of a client who has pericarditis.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

2. A. An older adult who has chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease is not at risk for rheumatic endocarditis
unless they develop rheumatic fever.

B. CORRECT: A child who has streptococcal pharyngitis
is at risk for developing rheumatic fever, which
could result in rheumatic endocarditis.

C. A middle‑age adult who has lupus erythematosus
is not at risk for rheumatic endocarditis unless
they develop rheumatic fever.

D. A young adult who receives a body tattoo is at increased
risk for infective endocarditis but is not at risk for rheumatic
endocarditis unless they develop rheumatic fever.

NCLEX® Connection: Health Promotion and Maintenance,
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

3. A. CORRECT: Long‑term NsAID therapy can lower platelets.
this finding is outside the expected reference range
and should be reported to the provider.

B. Blood glucose is not affected by long‑term NsAID therapy.
this finding is within the expected reference range.

C. Kidney function, which is monitored by blood creatinine
level, is affected by long‑term NsAID therapy. this
finding is within the expected reference range.

D. Liver function, which is monitored by the ALt level,
is affected by long‑term NsAID therapy. this finding
is within the expected reference range.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Laboratory Values

4. A. CORRECT: splinter hemorrhages in nail beds and a report of
fever are findings associated with infective endocarditis.

B. A client who has pericarditis would report chest pain.
C. A client who has myocarditis would report a rapid heart rate.
D. A client who has rheumatic endocarditis

would report joint pain.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

5. A. Arterial blood gases are used to monitor the respiratory
status of a client who has suspected rheumatic endocarditis,
but they do not confirm the diagnosis.

B. Blood albumin monitors the nutrition status of a
client who has a suspected inflammatory disorder,
but it does not confirm the diagnosis.

C. Liver enzymes monitor a client’s response to antibiotic
therapy, which is used to treat rheumatic endocarditis,
but they do not confirm the diagnosis.

D. CORRECT: A throat culture can reveal the
presence of streptococcus, which is the leading
cause of rheumatic endocarditis.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential,
Laboratory Values

Active Learning Scenario Key

Using the ATI Active Learning Template: System Disorder

CLIENT EDUCATION

Referral facilities
● home health: postoperative care, home administration
of intravenous antibiotic therapy

● Pharmaceutical services: intravenous antibiotic
therapy, provision of supplies and medications

● Rehabilitation services: assistance with
monitoring and increasing activity level

Client discharge activities
● Rest as needed.
● Wash hands to prevent infection.
● Avoid crowded areas to reduce the risk of infection.
● maintain good oral hygiene to prevent infection.
● take medications as prescribed.
● Administer and manage Iv antibiotics.
● Participate in a tobacco use cessation program.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 35 PERIPhERAL vAsCULAR DIsEAsEs 223

UNIT 4 CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
SECTION: VASCULAR DISORDERS

CHAPTER 35 Peripheral Vascular
Diseases

Peripheral vascular diseases include peripheral
arterial disease (PAD) and peripheral venous
disorders, both of which interfere with normal
blood flow. PAD affects arteries (blood vessels
that carry blood away from the heart), and
peripheral venous disease affects veins (blood
vessels that carry blood toward the heart).

Peripheral arterial disease
● PAD results from atherosclerosis that usually occurs

in the arteries of the lower extremities and is
characterized by inadequate flow of blood.

● Atherosclerosis is caused by a gradual thickening
of the intima and media of the arteries, ultimately
resulting in the progressive narrowing of the
vessel lumen. Plaques can form on the walls of
the arteries, making them rough and fragile.

● Progressive stiffening of the arteries and narrowing
of the lumen decreases the blood supply to affected
tissues and increases resistance to blood flow.

● Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis,
which means “hardening of the arteries” and
alludes to the loss of elasticity of arteries over
time due to thickening of their walls.

● PAD is classified as inflow (distal aorta and iliac
arteries) or outflow (femoral, popliteal, and tibial
arteries) and can range from mild to severe. Tissue
damage occurs below the arterial obstruction.

● Buerger’s disease, subclavian steal syndrome, thoracic
outlet syndrome, Raynaud’s disease, and popliteal
entrapment are examples of PAD.

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
● Hypertension
● Hyperlipidemia
● Diabetes mellitus
● Cigarette smoking
● Obesity
● Sedentary lifestyle
● Familial predisposition
● Female sex
● Age older than 65
● Elevated C‑reactive protein
● Hyperhomocysteinemia

EXPECtED FINDINGs
● Burning, cramping, and pain in the legs during exercise

(intermittent claudication)
● Numbness or burning pain primarily in the feet

when in bed
● Pain that is relieved by placing legs at rest in a

dependent position

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Bruit over femoral and aortic arteries
● Decreased capillary refill of toes (greater than
3 seconds)

● Decreased or nonpalpable pulses
● Loss of hair on lower calf, ankle, and foot
● Dry, scaly, mottled skin
● Thick toenails
● Cold and cyanotic extremity
● Pallor of extremity with elevation
● Dependent rubor (redness) of the extremity
● Muscle atrophy
● Ulcers and possible gangrene of toes

CHAPTER 35

35.1 Rubor

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224 CHAPTER 35 PERIPhERAL vAsCULAR DIsEAsEs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

Arteriography
● Arteriography of the lower extremities involves arterial

injection of contrast medium to visualize areas of
decreased arterial flow on an x‑ray.

● It is usually done only to determine isolated areas of
occlusion that can be treated during the procedure with
percutaneous transluminal angioplasty and possible
stent placement.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Observe for bleeding and hemorrhage.
● Palpate pedal pulses to identify possible occlusions.

Exercise tolerance testing

A stress test is done with or without the use of a treadmill
(medications such as dipyridamole and adenosine can be
given to mimic the effects of exercise in clients who cannot
tolerate a treadmill) with measurement of pulse volumes
and blood pressures prior to and following the onset of
manifestations or 5 min of exercise. Delays in return to
normal pressures and pulse waveforms indicate arterial
disease. It is used to evaluate claudication during exercise.

Plethysmography
● Plethysmography is used to determine the variations

of blood passing through an artery, thus identifying
abnormal arterial flow in the affected limb.

● Blood pressure cuffs are attached to the client’s upper
extremities, a lower extremity, and the plethysmograph
machine. Variations in peripheral pulses between the
upper and lower extremity are recorded.

● A decrease in pulse pressure of the lower extremity
indicates a possible blockage in the leg.

Segmental systolic blood pressure measurements
● A Doppler probe is used to take various blood pressure

measurements (thigh, calf, ankle, brachial) for comparison.
In the absence of PAD, pressures in the lower extremities
are higher than those of the upper extremities.

● With arterial disease, the pressures in the thigh, calf,
and ankle are lower.

Magnetic resonance angiography

A contrast medium, such as gadolinium, is injected to help
visualize blood flow through peripheral arteries.

Ankle‑brachial index (ABI)

The ankle pressure is compared to the brachial pressure.
The expected finding for ABI is 0.9 to 1.3. ABI less than 0.9
in either leg is diagnostic for PAD.

Doppler‑derived maximal systolic acceleration

A technique that is especially helpful for evaluating PAD in
clients who have diabetes mellitus.

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE
● Encourage the client to exercise to build up

collateral circulation.
◯ Initiate exercise gradually and increase slowly.
◯ Instruct the client to walk until the point of pain, stop
and rest, and then walk a little farther.

● Promote vasodilation and avoid vasoconstriction.
◯ Provide a warm environment for the client.
◯ Have the client wear insulated socks.
◯ Tell the client to never apply direct heat, such as
a heating pad, to the affected extremity because
sensitivity is decreased, and this can cause a burn.

◯ Instruct the client to avoid exposure to cold (causes
vasoconstriction and decreased arterial flow).

◯ Instruct the client to avoid stress, caffeine, and
nicotine, which also cause vasoconstriction.

■ Vasoconstriction is avoided when the client completely
abstains from smoking or chewing tobacco.

■ Vasoconstriction of vessels lasts up to 1 hr after
smoking or chewing tobacco.

POSITIONING
● Instruct the client to avoid crossing the legs.
● Tell the client to refrain from wearing restrictive garments.
● Tell the client to elevate the legs to reduce swelling, but

not to elevate them above the level of the heart because
extreme elevation slows arterial blood flow to the feet.

mEDICAtIONs

Antiplatelet medications

Aspirin, clopidogrel, pentoxifylline
Antiplatelet medications reduce blood viscosity by
decreasing blood fibrinogen levels, enhancing erythrocyte
flexibility, and increasing blood flow in the extremities.
Medications such as aspirin and clopidogrel can be
prescribed. Pentoxifylline, sometimes referred to as
a hemorheologic medication, was one of the first to
be used and is still used, but less commonly than
other medications. It can be given to specifically treat
intermittent claudication in clients who have PAD.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● The medication’s effects might not be apparent for

several weeks.
● Monitor for evidence of bleeding (abdominal pain;

coffee‑ground emesis; black, tarry stools).
● Avoid taking herbal supplements with clopidogrel

because they can increase the risk of bleeding.

Statins

Simvastatin, atorvastatin: Can relieve manifestations
associated with PAD (intermittent claudication)

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 35 PERIPhERAL vAsCULAR DIsEAsEs 225

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs

Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty
and laser‑assisted angioplasty

● Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty is an invasive
intra‑arterial procedure using a balloon and stent to
open and help maintain the patency of the vessel.

● Laser‑assisted angioplasty is an invasive procedure in
which a laser probe is advanced through a cannula to
the site of stenosis.

◯ The laser is used to vaporize atherosclerotic plaque
and open the artery.

NURSING ACTIONS
● The priority action is to observe for bleeding at the

puncture site.
● Monitor vital signs, peripheral pulses, and capillary refill.
● Keep the client on bed rest with their limb straight for 2

to 6 hr before ambulation.
● Anticoagulant therapy is used during the procedure,

followed by antiplatelet therapy for 1 to 3 months.

Mechanical rotational abrasive atherectomy

Uses a rotational device to scrape plaque from the inside
of the client’s peripheral artery. The device is designed to
cause minimal damage to the surface of the artery.

NURSING ACTIONS
● The priority action is to observe for bleeding at the

puncture site.
● Monitor vital signs, peripheral pulses, and capillary refill.
● Keep the client on bed rest with their limb straight for
2 to 6 hr before ambulation.

● Anticoagulant therapy is used during the procedure,
followed by antiplatelet therapy for 1 to 3 months.

Arterial revascularization surgery

Used with clients who have severe claudication and/or
limb pain at rest, or with clients who are at risk for losing
a limb due to poor arterial circulation.

● Bypass grafts are used to reroute the circulation around
the arterial occlusion.

● Grafts can be harvested from the client (autologous) or
made from synthetic materials.

NURSING ACTIONS
● The priority action is to maintain adequate circulation

in the repaired artery. The location of the pedal or
dorsalis pulse should be marked, and its pulsatile
strength compared with the contralateral leg on a
scheduled basis using a Doppler.

● Color, temperature, sensation, and capillary refill should
be compared with the contralateral extremity on a
scheduled basis.

● Assess for warmth, redness, and possibly edema of the
affected limb as a result of increased blood flow.

● Monitor for pain. Pain can be severe due to the
reestablishment of blood flow to the extremity.

● Monitor blood pressure. Hypotension can result in
an increased risk of clotting or graft collapse, while
hypertension increases the risk for bleeding from sutures.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Limit bending of the hip and knee to decrease the risk

of clot formation.
● Avoid crossing or raising legs above the level of the heart.
● Wear loose clothing.
● Perform wound care if revascularization surgery was done.
● Avoid smoking and cold temperatures.
● Perform foot care (keep feet clean and dry, wear

good‑fitting shoes, never go barefoot, cut toenails
straight across or have the podiatrist cut nails).

COMPLICATIONS

Graft occlusion

Graft occlusion is a serious complication of arterial
revascularization and often occurs within the first 24 hr
following surgery.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Promptly notify the surgeon of manifestations of

occlusion (absent or reduced pedal pulses, increased
pain, change in extremity color or temperature).

● Prepare to assist with treatment, which can include
an emergency thrombectomy (removal of a clot), local
intra‑arterial thrombolytic therapy with an agent
such as tissue plasminogen activator, infusion of a
platelet inhibitor, or a combination of these. With these
treatments, assess for indications of bleeding.

Wound or graft infection

An infection of the surgical wound or graft is a potentially
life‑threatening complication.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Use sterile technique when changing the surgical

dressing or providing wound care.
● Indications of infection include localized induration,

warmth, tenderness, erythema, edema, purulent
drainage, and an elevated WBC. Promptly report
findings to the provider.

Compartment syndrome

Compartment syndrome is considered a medical
emergency. Tissue pressure within a confined body space
can restrict blood flow, and the resulting ischemia can
lead to irreversible tissue damage.

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NURSING ACTIONS
● Manifestations of compartment syndrome include

tingling, numbness, worsening pain, edema, pain on
passive movement, and unequal pulses. Immediately
report findings to the provider.

● Loosen dressings.
● Prepare to assist with fasciotomy (surgical opening into

the tissues), which can be necessary to prevent further
injury and to save the limb.

● Monitor for comfort, impaired mobility, and decreased
sensory perception of the affected extremity by
following the assessment of the “6 P’s” (pain, pressure,
paralysis, paresthesia, pallor, pulselessness). Paresthesia
(numbness, tingling) is often the first manifestation of
compartment syndrome. Then the distal area becomes
pale and cool, with pulselessness, pain, and inability to
move the distal area (hand, foot).

Peripheral venous disorders
Peripheral venous disorders are problems with the veins
that interfere with adequate return of blood flow from
the extremities, and can result in blood stasis.

● There are superficial and deep veins in the lower
extremities that have valves that prevent backflow
of blood as it returns to the heart. The action
of the skeletal muscles of the lower extremities
during walking and other activities also promotes
venous return.

● Three peripheral venous disorders that nurses should
be familiar with are venous thromboembolism (VTE),
venous insufficiency, and varicose veins.

35.4 Thrombophlebitis35.3 Deep‑vein thrombosis

35.2 Compartment syndrome

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 35 PERIPhERAL vAsCULAR DIsEAsEs 227

VTE is a blood clot believed to form as a result of
venous stasis, endothelial injury, or hypercoagulability.
Thrombus formation can lead to a pulmonary embolism,
a life‑threatening complication. Thrombophlebitis
refers to a thrombus that is associated with
inflammation. (35.3, 35.4)

Venous insufficiency occurs secondary to incompetent
valves in the deeper veins of the lower extremities, which
allows pooling of blood and dilation of the veins. The
veins’ inability to carry fluid and wastes from the lower
extremities precipitates the development of swelling,
venous stasis ulcers, and in advanced cases, cellulitis.

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, and superficial veins
that can occur in any part of the body; however, they
are commonly observed in the lower extremities and in
the esophagus. (35.5)

ASSESSMENT

RIsK FACtORs
Venous thromboembolism: Associated with Virchow’s
triad (hypercoagulability, impaired blood flow, damage to
blood vessels)

● Hip surgery, total‑knee replacement, open
prostate surgery

● Heart failure
● Immobility
● Pregnancy
● Oral contraceptives
● Active cancer
● Ulcerative colitis
● Central venous and dialysis access catheters
● Factor V Leiden defect

Venous insufficiency: Results from periods of prolonged
venous hypertension that results in damage to the valve,
causing backup of blood, edema, and damage to the
deep tissue

● Sitting or standing in one position for a long
period of time

● Obesity
● Pregnancy
● Thrombophlebitis

Varicose veins
● Female sex
● Age older than 30 years and an occupation requiring

prolonged standing
● Pregnancy
● Obesity
● Systemic diseases (heart disease)
● Family history

EXPECtED FINDINGs
Limb pain: Aching pain and feeling of fullness or
heaviness in the legs after standing

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
● Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and thrombophlebitis

◯ Client can be asymptomatic.
◯ Calf or groin pain, tenderness, and a sudden onset of
edema of the extremity.

◯ Warmth, edema, and induration and hardness over
the involved blood vessel.

◯ Changes in circumferences of right and left calf
and thigh over time; localized edema over the
affected area.

! shortness of breath and chest pain can
indicate that the embolus has moved to
the lungs (pulmonary embolism).

● Venous insufficiency
◯ Stasis dermatitis is a brown discoloration along the
ankles that extends up the calf relative to the level
of insufficiency.

◯ Edema
◯ Stasis ulcers (typically found around ankles)

● Varicose veins
◯ Distended, superficial veins that are visible just below
the skin and are tortuous in nature

◯ Clients often report muscle cramping and aches, pain
after sitting, and pruritus.

LABORAtORY tEsts
D‑dimer test measures fibrin degradation products
present in the blood produced from fibrinolysis. A
positive test indicates that thrombus formation has
possibly occurred.

35.5 Varicose veins

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228 CHAPTER 35 PERIPhERAL vAsCULAR DIsEAsEs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

DIAGNOstIC PROCEDUREs

DVT and thrombophlebitis
● Venous duplex ultrasonography uses high‑frequency

sound waves to provide a real‑time picture of the blood
flow through a blood vessel.

● Doppler flow study produces an audible sound when
venous circulation is normal and little or no sound
when veins are thrombosed.

● Impedance plethysmography can be used to determine
the variations of blood passing through a vein, thus
identifying abnormal venous flow in the affected limb.

● If the above tests are negative for a DVT, but one is still
suspected, a venogram, which uses contrast material,
or magnetic resonance imaging might be needed for
accurate diagnosis.

Varicose veins: Trendelenburg test

NURSING ACTIONS
● Place the client in a supine position with legs elevated.
● When the client sits up, the veins will fill from the

proximal end if varicosities are present (veins normally
fill from the distal end).

PATIENT‑CENTERED CARE

NURsING CARE

DVT and thrombophlebitis
● Encourage ambulation following initiation of

anticoagulant therapy.
◯ Encourage dorsiflexion/plantar flexion exercises of
the foot when in bed.

◯ Occasionally elevate the legs above the level of the
heart while the client is in bed. (Avoid using a knee
gatch or pillow under the knees.)

● Administer intermittent or continuous warm moist
compresses as prescribed.

● Do not massage the affected limb.
● Provide thigh‑high compression or

anti‑embolism stockings.
● Prepare the client for an inferior vena cava interruption

surgery (a filter traps emboli and prevents them from
reaching the heart) as indicated.

Venous insufficiency
● Elevate legs for at least 20 min, four to five times a day.
● Elevate the legs above the heart when in bed.

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Avoid crossing legs and wearing constrictive clothing

or stockings.
● Wear elastic compression stockings. Apply them after

the legs have been elevated and when swelling is at
a minimum.

mEDICAtIONs

DVT and thrombophlebitis: anticoagulants

Unfractionated heparin
● Given IV to prevent formation of other clots and to

prevent enlargement of the existing clot.
● It has significant adverse effects and must be given

in the facility. Prior to discharge, the client will be
converted to oral anticoagulation therapy with warfarin.

● NURSING ACTIONS
◯ Monitor aPTT to allow for adjustments of

heparin dosage.
◯ Monitor platelet counts for heparin‑induced
thrombocytopenia.

◯ Ensure that protamine sulfate, the antidote for
heparin, is available if needed for excessive bleeding.

◯ Monitor for hazards and adverse effects associated
with anticoagulant therapy.

Low‑molecular weight heparin
● Given subcutaneously and is based on a client’s weight.
● Enoxaparin is used for the prevention and treatment

of DVT. It is usually given in the facility, but the
twice‑daily injections can be given in the home setting.

● CLIENT EDUCATION
◯ Observe for evidence of bleeding.
◯ Take bleeding precautions (use electric instead of

bladed razor, brush teeth with a soft toothbrush).

Warfarin
● Inhibits synthesis of the four vitamin K‑dependent

clotting factors.
● The therapeutic effect takes 3 to 4 days to develop, so

administration of the medication is begun while the
client is still on heparin.

● NURSING ACTIONS
◯ Monitor for bleeding.
◯ Monitor PT and INR.
◯ Ensure that vitamin K (the antidote for warfarin) is
available in case of excessive bleeding.

● CLIENT EDUCATION
◯ Be aware of food sources of vitamin K (green leafy
vegetables) and avoid fluctuations in the amount and
frequency of consumption.

◯ Observe for evidence of bleeding.
◯ Take bleeding precautions (use electric instead of

bladed razor, and brush teeth with soft toothbrush).

Factor Xa inhibitors: Inhibit Factor Xa in prevention of
development of thromboses (fondaparinux, rivaroxaban,
apixaban)

Direct thrombin inhibitor
● Acts as a direct inhibitor of thrombin to prevent

thrombus formation (dabigatran).
● Idarucizumab is the antidote to reverse dabigatran in

life‑threatening events by preventing dabigatran from
inhibiting thrombin.

● Initial lab values are PT and aPTT. Recurrent laboratory
monitoring is not necessary.

● Not recommended if the client has renal insufficiency.

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 35 PERIPhERAL vAsCULAR DIsEAsEs 229

DVT and thrombophlebitis: thrombolytic therapy

Thrombolytic therapy dissolves clots that have already
developed. Therapy must be started within 5 days after
the development of the clot for the therapy to be effective.
Tissue plasminogen activator, a thrombolytic agent, and
platelet inhibitors (such as abciximab and eptifibatide) can
be effective in dissolving a clot or preventing new clots
during the first 24 hr. Administering the medication in a
manner that provides direct contact with the thrombus
can be more effective and lessen the chance of bleeding.

NURSING ACTIONS: Monitor for bleeding (such as
intracerebral bleeding).

CLIENT EDUCATION: Take bleeding precautions (use
electric instead of bladed razor and brush teeth with a soft
toothbrush).

thERAPEUtIC PROCEDUREs

DVT

An inferior vena cava filter can be inserted when a
client is unresponsive to medical therapy or when
anticoagulation is contraindicated. It is inserted via the
femoral vein and passed into the inferior vena cava where
it traps emboli before they progress to the lungs.

Varicose veins

Sclerotherapy
● A sclerosing irritating chemical solution is injected into

the varicose vein to produce localized inflammation,
which will close the lumen of the vessel over time.

● For larger vessels, an incision and drainage of the
trapped blood in a sclerosed vein might need to be
performed 2 to 3 weeks after the injection.

● Pressure dressings are applied for approximately 1 week
after each procedure to keep the vessel free of blood.

CLIENT EDUCATION
◯ Wear elastic stockings for the prescribed time.
◯ Mild analgesics, such as acetaminophen, can be taken
for discomfort.

Vein stripping
● Vein stripping is the removal of large varicose veins that

cannot be treated with less‑invasive procedures.
● PREOPERATIVE NURSING ACTIONS

◯ Assist the provider with vein marking.
◯ Evaluate pulses as a baseline for

postoperative comparison.
● POSTOPERATIVE NURSING ACTIONS

◯ Maintain elastic bandages on the legs.
◯ Monitor groin and leg for bleeding through the
elastic bandages.

◯ Monitor extremity for edema, warmth, color, and pulses.
◯ Elevate legs above the level of the heart.

CLIENT EDUCATION
◯ Understand the importance of wearing elastic
stockings after bandage removal.

◯ Elevate the legs when sitting, and avoid dangling
them over the side of the bed.

◯ Engage in range‑of‑motion exercises of the legs.

Endovenous laser treatment: This type of treatment uses
a laser fiber that is inserted into the vessel proximal to the
area to be treated and then threaded to the involved area,
where heat from the laser is used to close the dilated vein.

Application of radio frequency energy: This type of
treatment uses a small catheter with a radio frequency
electrode, instead of a laser, that is inserted into the vessel
proximal to the area to be treated that scars and closes a
dilated vein.

INtERPROFEssIONAL CARE

Venous insufficiency
● Care of venous stasis ulcers requires

long‑term management.
● Consultation with a dietitian and wound care specialist

facilitate the healing process.

COMPLICATIONS

Ulcer formation
● Venous stasis ulcers often form over the medial

malleolus. Venous ulcers are chronic, hard to heal, and
often recur. They can lead to amputation or death. (35.6)

● Clients who have neuropathy might not feel as much
discomfort from the ulcer as its appearance can warrant.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Administer and assist with treatments to improve

circulation (wound vacuum, hyperbaric chamber).
● Assess and treat pain as prescribed.
● Apply oxygen‑permeable polyethylene films to

superficial ulcers.
● Apply occlusive hydrocolloid dressings on deeper ulcers to

promote granulation tissue and reepithelialization.
● Leave a dressing on for 3 to 7 days.
● If a wound needs chemical debridement, apply

prescribed topical enzymatic agents to debride the ulcer,
eliminate necrotic tissue, and promote healing.

● Administer systemic antibiotics as prescribed.
● Prepare for oxygen therapy and blood gas analysis

while continuing to monitor and assess the client for
other manifestations.

35.6 Venous stasis ulcers

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230 CHAPTER 35 PERIPhERAL vAsCULAR DIsEAsEs CONTENT MASTERY SERIES

CLIENT EDUCATION
● Adhere to a diet high in zinc, protein, iron, and

vitamins A and C.
● Understand the use of compression stockings.
● Prepare to administer prescribed anticoagulation.

Pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism occurs when a thrombus
is dislodged, becomes an embolus, and lodges in a
pulmonary vessel. This can lead to obstruction of
pulmonary blood flow, decreased systemic oxygenation,
pulmonary tissue hypoxia, and possible death.

NURSING ACTIONS
● Manifestations include sudden onset dyspnea, pleuritic

chest pain, restlessness, apprehension, feelings of
impending doom, cough, and hemoptysis.

● Findings include tachypnea, crackles, pleural friction
rub, tachycardia, S3 or S4 heart sounds, diaphoresis,
low‑grade fever, petechiae over chest and axillae, and
decreased arterial oxygen saturation.

● Notify the provider immediately. Reassure the client.
Assist the client to a position of comfort with the head
of the bed elevated.

● Prepare for oxygen therapy and blood gas analysis
while continuing to monitor and assess the client for
other manifestations.

● Prepare to administer prescribed anticoagulation.

Active Learning Scenario

A nurse is developing a poster presentation on
peripheral arterial disease (PAD) for a community
health fair. What content should the nurse include on
the poster? Use the AtI Active Learning template:
system Disorder to complete this item.

ALTERATION IN HEALTH (DIAGNOSIS)

RISK FACTORS: Describe at least six.

EXPECTED FINDINGS: Describe at least six findings.

CLIENT EDUCATION: Describe at least two actions
by the client related to proper positioning and
two actions related to promoting vasodilation.

Application Exercises

1. A nurse is caring for a client who has chronic
venous insufficiency and a prescription for
thigh‑high compression stockings. Which of the
following actions should the nurse take?

A. Elevate the client’s legs for 10 min, two to
three times daily while wearing stockings.

B. Apply the stockings in the morning upon
awakening and before getting out of bed.

C. Roll the stockings down to the knees
to relieve discomfort on the legs.

D. Remove the stockings while out of bed for 1 hr,
four times a day, to allow the legs to rest.

2. A nurse is assessing a client who has chronic
peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Which of the
following findings should the nurse expect?

A. Edema around the ankles and feet
B. Ulceration around the medial malleoli
C. scaling eczema of the lower legs

with stasis dermatitis
D. Pallor on elevation of the limbs, and

rubor when the limbs are dependent

3. A nurse is teaching a client who has a new diagnosis
of severe peripheral arterial disease. Which of the
following instructions should the nurse include?

A. Wear tightly‑fitted insulated socks
with shoes when going outside.

B. Elevate both legs above the heart when resting.
C. Apply a heating pad to both legs for comfort.
D. Place both legs in dependent

position while sleeping.

4. A nurse is teaching a client who has a new prescription
for clopidogrel. Which of the following instructions
should the nurse include? (select all that apply.)

A. “Avoid taking herbal supplements
while taking this medication.”

B. “monitor for the presence of black, tarry stools.”
C. “take this medication when you have pain.”
D. “schedule a weekly Pt test.”
E. “Limit food sources containing vitamin

K while taking this medication.”

5. A nurse is caring for a client who has a deep‑vein
thrombosis (Dvt) and has been taking
unfractionated heparin for 1 week. two days
ago, the provider also prescribed warfarin. the
client asks the nurse about receiving both heparin
and warfarin at the same time. Which of the
following statements should the nurse give?

A. “I will remind your provider that you
are already receiving heparin.”

B. “Your laboratory findings indicated that
two anticoagulants were needed.”

C. “It takes 3 to 4 days before the therapeutic
effects of warfarin are achieved, and then
the heparin can be discontinued.”

D. “Only one of these medications is being
given to treat your deep‑vein thrombosis.”

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RN ADULT MEDICAL SURGICAL NURSING CHAPTER 35 PERIPhERAL vAsCULAR DIsEAsEs 231

Application Exercises Key

1. A. the client who has venous insufficiency should sit with legs
elevated for at least 20 min, four to five times daily.

B. CORRECT: Applying stockings in the morning upon
awakening and before getting out of bed reduces
venous stasis and assists in the venous return of blood
to the heart. Legs are less edematous at this time.

C. Rolling stockings down can restrict
circulation and cause edema.

D. stockings should remain in place throughout the day
and are removed before going to bed to provide
continuous venous support. If the stockings are removed,
such as for a bath or shower, then the legs should be
elevated before the stockings are reapplied.

NCLEX® Connection: Reduction of Risk Potential, Potential for
Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Treatments/Procedures

2. A. Edema around the ankles and feet is an expected
finding in a client who has venous stasis.

B. Ulceration around the medial malleoli is an expected
finding in a client who has venous stasis.

C. scaling eczema of the lower legs with stasis dermatitis is
an expected finding in a client who has venous stasis.

D. CORRECT: In a client who has chronic PAD, pallor is
seen in the extremities when the limbs are elevated,
and rubor occurs when they are lowered.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation, Pathophysiology

3. A. While insulated socks can promote warmth, they should
be loose‑fitting to promote circulation.

B. the client should avoid elevating the legs
above the heart while resting. this can cause a
restriction in arterial blood flow to the feet.

C. the client should not apply a heating pad to the legs
due to the loss in sensation as a result of the disease.
Applying direct heat to the legs can burn the client.

D. CORRECT: Instruct the client to place their legs
in a dependent position, such as hanging off the
edge of the bed while sleeping. this can alleviate
swelling and discomfort of the legs.

NCLEX® Connection: Physiological Adaptation,
Illness Management

4. A. CORRECT: Instruct the client to avoid herbal supplements
while taking clopidogrel. herbal supplements (garlic, ginger,
ginkgo, ginseng) can increase the risk of bleeding.

B. CORRECT: Instruct the client to monitor for evidence
of GI bleeding (abdominal pain; coffee‑ground
emesis; black, tarry stools). If this occurs, the
client should report this to the provider.

C. the client should take clopidogrel routinely as prescribed
because it can take several weeks to be effective.

D. Pt and INR levels are monitored regularly
in a client taking warfarin.

E. A client who is taking warfarin should be advised
about food sources containing vitamin K.

NCLEX® Connection: Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
, Adverse Effects/Contraindications/Side Effects/Interactions

5. A. Warfarin is prescribed for 3 to 4 days before
discontinuing Iv heparin.

B. Iv heparin is monitored