Nurses play such a crucial role in patient treatment and assessment.
Diagnosis is an ever-present reality when dealing with patients of
all types. Being able to assess pain is vitally important to the
effectiveness of nursing and patient care. The best way of understanding
a patient's level of pain, is by hearing it from the patient themselves.
There are various types of pain that patients can experience. A nurse
must nail down what this pain is in order to continue with assessments.
The quality of the pain gives good information to the nurse and that is
helpful in making a proper diagnosis. Pain quality can be described as
'shooting pain', 'burning pain', or 'sharp or dull pain'. Only the
patient can know this for certain. Once the quality or type of pain
is defined, the next step is to gauge severity. This is usually done
using the pain
scale 1-10. When asked, the patient will rate their pain from one
to ten, giving the nurse a better foundation for forming a proper
A useful nursing theory will make assumptions concerning health
problems, environment, behaviors, and target populations, that are
logical, consistent, research supported, and similar to ones that
have proven to be successful in previous programs.
Once quality and severity have been nailed down, the next thing is
to affix an exact location, and whether the pain came on suddenly
or gradually, how long it lasts (intermittent, long, short, continuous),
and if there are precipitating factors and/or things that seem to help
Nurses then engage in the monitoring of the given signs and symptoms
associated with the pain. They keep watch on the blood pressure,
temperature, heart rate, ability to focus, restlessness, skin color,
skin moisture, and more. All of this information will help assist the
nurse in properly evaluating the pain.
Nurses are highly trained and very skilled in
pain situations. They understand that the best way of effectively
dealing with pain is to prevent it altogether. Early intervention can
decrease the overall amount of required analgesic. Being able to
anticipate pain helps in bringing about prevention. Patients experiencing
pain can sometimes have time become distorted. Nurses need to be immediately
made aware of the pain. Once a complaint has been made, the nurses job is to
lower the anxiety of the patient, to express concern without causing alarm.
A good nurse will always be compassionate, and foster a good trusting
relationship with their patients.
Nurses must also understand and recognize that certain environmental
or intraphysical factors can add to the stress of a patient. They must
be equipped with the type of knowledge that enables them to eliminate
any additional stressors, and always be attempting to relieve the
discomfort as much as possible. They must also make a determination
pain relief methods are appropriate for each situation.
The pain scale reporting of the patient from one to ten, helps to
reinforce the nurse's diagnosis. They should match up. The nurse
takes the patient's own words, along with all other accumulated
information, and forms a care plan. They create a comprehensive
patient assessment to identify the cause, the location, and the
proper steps to take for the alleviation of the pain. They put
clearly defined goals into place, like "the patient will experience
a decrease in pain within a few hours of doing such and such...".
Then an effort is made to ask the patient every hour or so to rate
the pain on a scale of one to ten again, and the number should be
getting lower each time. This is a measurable outcome, and reveals
a care plan that is working. Meeting the established goals means a
resolution of the nursing diagnosis.
Nursing Care Plans
The main purpose of a nursing
care plan is to properly identify patient problems, and to then
find the right solutions. There are five steps to developing this
type of plan -
and all five of these need to be completed, in order to properly
create a true nursing care plan. It is ill-advised to select a
'potential nursing diagnosis', but to take advantage of an approved
priority diagnosis, that comes from NANDA (North American Nursing
Diagnosis Association). The nurse will write down all assessment
data and goals. For instance, if at the time of forming a diagnosis,
the patient's pain was at 8 out of 10, and the goal was to have it
down to 3 at the end of the day. This would be recorded, and each
successive nurse would know exactly what the goal and treatment plans
were, and how to proceed.
The Nursing Profession
The nursing profession is indeed a noble one. They are everyday
citizens who care about others and who are unsung heroes to many.
The old stereotype of a nurse being someone who simply takes blood
pressure, draws blood, and pushed someone around in a wheelchair,
is so far off-base it's laughable. They are crucial to health care
in America and across the globe. Their work frees up doctors to see
more patients and do what doctors do. Nursing today is highly technical,
and they get quality training and develop life-saving skills. The pain
scale chart from 1-10 is just one of the many weapons in their arsenal.
They are driven by compassion and a true love for other people. They are
unique and invaluable.