Routine dyspnea assessment and documentation: Nurses’ experience yields wide acceptance

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Routine dyspnea assessment and documentation: Nurses’ experience yields wide acceptance

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Title: Routine dyspnea assessment and documentation: Nurses’ experience yields wide acceptance
Author: Baker, Kathy M.; DeSanto-Madeya, Susan; Banzett, Robert B.

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Citation: Baker, Kathy M., Susan DeSanto-Madeya, and Robert B. Banzett. 2017. “Routine dyspnea assessment and documentation: Nurses’ experience yields wide acceptance.” BMC Nursing 16 (1): 3. doi:10.1186/s12912-016-0196-9.
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Abstract: Background: Dyspnea (breathing discomfort) is a common and distressing symptom. Routine assessment and documentation can improve management and relieve suffering. A major barrier to routine dyspnea documentation is the concern that it will have a deleterious effect on nursing workflow and that it will not be readily accepted by nurses. Nurses at our institution recently began to assess and document dyspnea on all medical-surgical patients upon admission and once per shift throughout their hospitalization. A year after dyspnea measurement was implemented we explored nurses’ approach to dyspnea assessment, their perception of patient response, and their perception of the utility and burden of dyspnea measurement. Methods: We obtained feedback from nurses using a three-part assessment of practice: 1) a series of recorded focus group interviews with nurses, 2) a time-motion observation of nurses performing routine dyspnea and pain assessment, and 3) a randomized, anonymous on-line survey based, in part, on issues raised in focus groups. Results: Ninety-four percent of the nurses surveyed reported administering the dyspnea assessment is “easy” or “very easy”. None of the nurses reported that assessing dyspnea negatively impacted workflow and many reported that it positively improved their practice by increasing their awareness. Our time-motion data showed dyspnea assessment and documentation takes well less than a minute. Nurses endorsed the importance of routine measurement and agreed that most patients were able to provide a meaningful rating of their dyspnea. Nurses found the patient report very useful, and used it in conjunction with observed signs to respond to changes in a patient’s condition. Conclusions: In this study, we have demonstrated that routine dyspnea assessment and documentation was widely accepted by the nurses at our institution. Our nurses fully incorporated routine dyspnea assessment and documentation into their practice and felt that it improved patient-centered care. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12912-016-0196-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Published Version: doi:10.1186/s12912-016-0196-9
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