If a nursing student has never worked in a hospital, it can be scary. Students may think they will harm their patient. If you can remember these safety measures, you can be rest-assured that something bad happening is very unlikely.
Know all about your patient before you walk into the room.
- What kind of precautions is the patient on?
- What is the patient’s prescribed diet?
- What is the activity level?
- Does the patient have any allergies?
- Before you give a med or treatment, do you have the right patient?
- Never leave the patient if they seem unstable
- Don’t do something for a patient if they are not your assigned patient
- DON’T LET THE PATIENT FALL
Let’s take a deeper look into each of these safety issues.
1. What kind of precautions is the patient on?
Precautions are interventions that keep the patient really safe. Examples are Fall Precautions, Infection Precautions, No-blood-pressures-in-the-right-arm Precautions, Seizure Precautions.
2. What is the patient’s prescribed diet?
Depending on what’s wrong with the patient, they will be on a certain diet. So if the patient has diabetes, they may be on a diabetic diet. If the patient can’t chew, they might be on a soft diet. Check this post out about diets.
Why are diets important?
If your patient is on a soft diet and you decide it’s fine to give them a hard piece of food like a carrot stick. Well, they can choke and then you just harmed your patient.
3. What is the patient’s activity level?
In most instances, the doctor has written an order spelling out what the client is allowed to do. Some patients are not allowed to get out of bed. Some patients can only get out of bed to use the bathroom. Some patients have to have a nurse assist them at all times. Some patients must use a walker. I mean these people are sick and not in the best of shape. Find out what they can and can’t do physically!
Why is knowing the activity level important?
For example, many patients with deep vein thrombosis are not allowed to get out of bed due to the clot breaking loose. If you decided it was fine that they got up, but then the DVT broke loose and went to their lungs, then the patient could die.
4. Does the patient have any allergies?
Check to see what medications they are allergic to. Some patients are allergic to certain foods or latex. Tubes, blood pressures cuffs and other plastic-looking things can have latex in them.
Why are allergies important to know about?
Because if you accidentally gave the client a med, food or put latex on their skin they could have a serious reaction called anaphylaxis. This basically means they are having a hard time breathing. That’s not something you want to cause.
5. Before giving a med or treatment, do you have the right patient?
Every time you give a med or a treatment, make sure you have the right patient. Do this by asking the client’s name and birthday. See if what the patient says matches what is on their wrist band. Then make sure the wristband info and what the client said matches the order in the client’s file.
Why is this important?
Because nurses have given the wrong med to the wrong patient! Never match the bed number or room number. Patients have been wheeled into the wrong room.
6. Never leave the patient if they seem unstable
If your patient seems really confused or restless, if they are having trouble breathing, vital signs are abnormal or they are bleeding, DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE. From the room, use the call light button or yell down the hall for help.
Why should you stay with the patient?
Typically, the client is very scared and needs reassurance. They also have a very high chance of falling and that could make everything worse.
7. Don’t do something for a patient if they are not your assigned patient
This can be a tough one. However, if a nurse asks you to do something for a patient that is not yours and you have no information about the patient, be very cautious before you do anything.
What if you gave them a med, but they were allergic to it?
What if you had them drink some dye for a CT scan, but you actually gave it to the wrong patient?
See what I’m saying?! if a nurse does ask you, just say, “Oh, I’m sorry, my instructor says I have to ask her first before I do something else for a patient that isn’t mine.” Don’t care if the nurse gives you a dirty look. You paid a lot of money to go to school and if you do something unsafe, you can fail clinical.
8. Never let your patient fall!
Every patient is on fall precautions. I don’t care what is wrong with the patient, if they are in the hospital, they are just more likely to fall. Before you leave the client’s room, these things should be done:
- bed is in the lowest position
- the side rails are up (but keep at least one down. Because if you had all 4 side rails up, it would be considered restraints)
- the patient has urinated or gone to the bathroom – you don’t want them scrambling out of bed because they have to pee so bad
- their belongings are within reach
- the floor is not cluttered, and tubes or wires are out of the way
- the call light is sitting nicely in their lap
- you have informed them that if they need to get up, to use the call light and ask that someone come in to help get them up
Remember to use these safety measures when caring for your patient. Practice them every time you get a new patient and it will become second nature. Your clinical instructor will appreciate it!