Friday, March 1, 2019

Do nurses find taking vital signs a menial, unnecessary task?

The new modern obs machines are easy to operate (even a Doctor can do it and Doctor are generally fairly rubbish at using ward based machines!) however the skill comes in the interpretation of the readings.  

physiological parameters need to be viewed in patient context ( i.e people with lung disease may always have low oxygen levels) and trend changes also should be tracked. These measurements and trends can track if a patient is unwell, or becoming more/ less well; in the vast majority of inpatient cardiac arrests you can track the patient's deterioration over the preceding hours on their charts. 

In the UK we use the obs (observations) to create a score (MEWS,SEWS etc Etc) to either trigger an immediate medical review or to track any changes. This allows assessment of either deterioration or response to treatment

Depending on staffing ratios, ward activity and hospital/board policy it may not necessarily be a staff nurse who actually takes the obs- it might be a nursing student, a clinical support worker or auxiliary. There will then be a policy of escalation of abnormal or changing readings being fed up the chain to the staff nurse responsible for that patient and then the senior nurse on the ward.

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