Nursing interventions are actions undertaken by a nurse to further the course of treatment for a patient. In several nations, professional nursing organizations have created complex classification systems for such interventions, creating a standardized system that can be used by all nurses to provide a high level of care. The goal is to improve the health and comfort of the patient.
There are four stages to nursing interventions. The first is the assessment, in which the nurse determines what the problem is, as for instance in the case of someone with a nail in his or her foot. After the assessment, the nurse formulates an appropriate intervention plan, which in the case of this fictional patient would involve removal of the nail, irrigation of the wound, the administration of prophylactic antibiotics, and a tetanus shot. After planning, the nurse implements the treatment he or she has formulated, and then evaluates the patient to determine the outcome of the interventions, and to decide if additional interventions need to be undertaken.
Nurses can work alone or as part of patient care teams, and interventions work in the same way in both cases. When a patient is admitted to the hospital, for example, he or she may have medical orders from a doctor, such as a standing order for medication, but the nurses also formulate a plan, which may include things like regularly checking patient vitals, monitoring fluid output, and educating the patient and his or her family about the situation.
Nursing interventions can include things like counseling, referrals, patient advocacy, the administration of medication, and the performance of minor medical procedures. As in all medical care, the primary concern is keeping the patient stable enough to receive treatment, while the secondary concern is evaluating all patient needs and deciding on a course of action. When a patient comes in with an obstructed airway and a broken leg, for instance, the airway must be secured before the broken leg can be treated. Nurses are also unafraid to call in support from other medical professionals when they need it.
In nursing schools, students are usually taken through a number of theoretical cases in which they are presented with a hypothetical assessment, and asked to come up with a nursing plan which includes specific interventions. Nursing students also discuss routine interventions that are used on a regular basis, and learn about how to assess patients, how to work with other medical staff to achieve a treatment plan, and how to interact with patients and their families to ensure that everyone stays informed, comfortable, and happy.