The Nurse’s Tool Box : A New Series of Articles On Nursing Snippets
This new series called The Nurse’s Tool Box, showcases educational Nurse Snippets that will be coming out once a month. Each Nurse Snippet offers insight into specific health issues. This alternative short series, not only gives awareness, but also understanding to a variety of topics that new and seasoned triage nurses can use to brush up on their triage skills.
This month is a Disease Snippet. The focus is on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This Snippet gives quick information to help teach and raise awareness about this disease.
CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE (COPD)
COPD is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. Over 11 million people have been diagnosed with it but it is estimated that another 24 million are living with this progressive and disabling disease but do not know it (American Lung Association, 2013).
What is it :
Chronic disease that refers to both chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Airways and air sacs lose their elastic quality.
The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed.
The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed.
The airways make more mucus than usual, which can clog them.
Who is at risk :
Smokers are primarily at risk and those exposed to second hand smoke are also at risk
- The Cause : Most often caused by smoking, but can also be caused from long term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution or chemical fumes.
- What Are Symptoms : Persistent productive cough with mucus, chest tightness, and shortness of breath; especially when exercising.
- How is it diagnosed : A pulmonologist will measure the patient’s lung function, usually by spirometry. The pulmonologist may also order Pulmonary Function Tests, a CXR, CT Scan as well as ABG’s.
- Complications : Progressive disease- gets worse over time. Other complications include Respiratory Infections, Heart problems, Lung Cancer, High Blood Pressure, Depression.
- Home Treatment : Stop Smoking. Dietary changes, exercise and prescription medications including Bronchodilators, inhaled and/or oral steroids. Sometimes oxygen and pulmonary rehab are ordered by the physician.
Did you know? Some studies show that up to 50% of long term smokers older than 60 get COPD. COPD results in high rates of hospitalizations for people over age 65. According to the American Lung Association, the cost of COPD in the United States was almost $50 billion with near $30 billion spent in direct health care costs. Triage Nurses are instrumental in keeping patients at home and assuring they are adhering to their treatment plan. A skilled triage nurse knows the importance of collecting a brief past medical history on each patient. When talking to a patient with COPD she should be mindful of symptoms that could indicate the patient needs evaluation. An increase in the patient’s cough, shortness of breath or feeling more fatigued are a few symptoms that could indicate the patient needs evaluation by their doctor.
About the TriageLogic Online Learning Center
TriageLogic’s Online Learning Center is available free of charge to telephone triage nurses and teams as an educational resource and practical training guide.
To view all the short videos and courses and learn more, click here !
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