As nurses, we provide care for patients, families, and communities so they might achieve, sustain, or recover optimal health and well-being. Nurses use the nursing process to link their observations to actions directed at achieving the desired results during patient care.
Nursing implications are what you, as a nurse, need to be aware of or take into consideration when caring for your patient. Nursing interventions are the actions that you take when caring for the patient. Think of nursing implications as elements you need to consider when planning your care. In this article, we will discuss nursing implications.
Why Nursing Implications Are Important
Nursing implications must always be taken into consideration when making decisions about patient care. Frequently, as nurses, we must make quick decisions that can impact the health and safety of the patient. We are always in contact with patients and families, so what we do on a daily basis has a great impact. We need to be aware that our actions and decisions have direct impacts on our patients.
Nursing implications are important for all patients, so it’s vital for all nurses to be aware of them and put them into practice. A variety of patients are cared for by nurses on a daily basis. These patients may be in the doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, home, rehab, or any other various setting. Regardless of the setting, the nursing process begins with the first interaction with the patient.
The nursing process is defined by the American Nursing Association as the “essential care of practice for the registered nurse to deliver holistic, patient-focused care.”
It’s important for nurses to be familiar with the nursing process. If you’re a nursing student, become familiar and prepared to use these steps in your nursing career. The nursing process is made up of five phases: assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. All of these processes are interdependent, and each phase naturally flows into the next. Nursing implications are developed during this process.
The Nursing Process
Assessment is the first step involved in the nursing process. During this step, the nurse will gather information about the patient. This information includes a patient’s physiological, sociological, psychological, and spiritual status. Usually the nurse talks with the patient to ask questions that give the nurse the information they need to assess each area.
Further information can be gathered during this interview with the patient by discussing the patient’s health history and family health history. A physical examination and general observations give the nurse additional information.
The next phase, diagnosing, requires a nurse to make an educated judgment about a patient’s potential or actual health issues. There may be one or multiple diagnoses, or none at all. The evaluations include actual and potential problems. The diagnosis or diagnoses are used to determine a patient’s health and whether or not they are suffering from any illnesses or diseases. This phase is crucial in determining the course of treatment.
Developing a plan of action is the next step after the patient and medical team agree on the diagnoses. A care plan will be developed based on prioritizing each problem. There needs to be a specific and measurable goal for the outcomes. Evidence-based nursing helps to determine standards of care and outcomes for the patient.
The implementation phase is when the plan is put into action. The scope of each action varies. Actions can range from monitoring the patient to performing medical procedures and everything in between. Educating the patient is also a key action during the implementation phase. Depending on how much is involved, this phase can take place over months.
The implementation phase is critical in the sense that a patient’s status can change rapidly. Nursing implications involve making quick decisions based on assessment and knowledge to enable the patient to have a favorable outcome compared to not having the treatment implemented.
The final stage, evaluation, ties all the other steps together. This determines if the goals and outcomes for the patient have been achieved. This stage is crucial to a positive patient outcome. Reassessment and evaluation help determine if the desired outcomes have been met.
Nurses must have a thorough understanding of all body systems because this enables them to identify abnormal functions and intervene accordingly. An assessment finding or evaluation of a situation is a nursing implication.
In addition to identifying the problem and identifying the expected outcome, it is also important to identify and prioritize the resources available to plan interventions. Nursing implications play an important role in the immediate care of the patient, but far beyond that as well. These implications govern the duties a nurse performs during the shift. During a shift with a patient, a nurse will use assessment findings to make decisions and organize their care for the patient.
Nurses can determine whether changes or interventions need to be implemented based on assessment findings and conclusions. It is crucial to identify nursing implications during the assessment phase so they can be developed into goals for treatment planning.
What Nursing Implications Mean For the Nurse
In addition to monitoring patient progress over time, the outcomes of these goals provide evidence about whether certain interventions were effective. This process helps nurses make informed decisions, making patient care more effective. The identified nursing implications should be realistic, measurable, detailed, and relevant.
Other factors need to be taken into consideration by the nurse. These factors include such things as the patient’s age, their living environment, their financial situation, or anything other aspects that have direct impacts on the patient. In addition to assessing the impact of their implication on other areas of care, nurses must also be sure that the implication they choose support the expected outcome.
These things need to work together, otherwise it doesn’t matter if the implication fits into the patient’s lifestyle, if it doesn’t actually address and support the outcome that is intended. As you can see, this can be a delicate balancing act. In order to make the right choice for our patients, it is essential to weigh both sides of the decision. It’s best to be prepared for what can happen if we’re wrong than just guess and risk causing harm to our patients.
Example of Nursing Implications
So, what does all that mean? Let’s consider an example to see how this may actually work with a patient.
Example: Your patient is a young woman that is recovering from knee surgery. During your shift, she develops a fever. Part of her post-surgical care involves receiving pain medication for the procedure. As a nurse, you know that a fever can occur for a number of reasons. You know that a fever is a symptom of a possible infection in a post-surgical patient.
In the same instance, you also know that pain medication can suppress the immune system, therefore making patients even more vulnerable to infection.
There are a couple of things that need to be taken into consideration here. Your patient’s pain level and the risk of infection. Start by assessing the patient’s pain levels regularly, to determine if you can wean the pain medication. You want to be able to wean the medication while also being sure that the pain is managed, knowing that pain and discomfort can exacerbate infection.
Goals, together with nursing implications, enhance nursing communication with other members of the healthcare team. This helps facilitate continuity of care for the patient. The continuity of care is imperative for the patient. In this example, it’s important that this patient’s medical team is all on the same page.
It’s important for each nurse to deliver the pain meds based on the pain scale, with the infection implications in mind. If even one person sways from those nursing implications, it can cause the patient to have a setback.
Everyone needs to realize the importance of the patient’s pain control and infection, and each of the potential consequences. It’s a balancing act that needs to be assessed and implemented by all involved with the patient’s care.
What Nursing Implications Mean For the Patient
In the above example, we see that the problem was first identified. After identifying a problem, nursing implications were used to determine what further action needs to be taken to address it. There was a specific and measurable goal for the patient’s outcome. That goal is then evaluated to make sure the patient outcome is achieved.
As nursing implications are considered in the context of patient care, a variety of factors are taken into account. Identifying nursing implications entails developing action plans to address each problem that is identified, leading to more focused nursing practice that adhere to evidence-based practice.
This ultimately leads to better patient outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.
As we can see, nursing implications are an important part of the nursing process, in which nurses use every day while caring for their patients. By assessing the patient to determine what is going on, making changes to plans, and implementing processes quickly, nurses are able to provide the best care possible.
Written by Joanne Potter
Joanne Potter, BSN, RN, is a writer that specializes in health and wellness. She has fifteen years of experience as a Registered Nurse in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Her years working at the bedside and extensive neonatal knowledge enable her to write with a deep understanding of what patients and families want from their communities. Visit her LinkedIn page.