Assessment of the Patient with Acute Abdominal Pain

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Because of a printing error this leaming zone article was not printed in full in last week's issue. I t is reproduced here in full. Please use this version when referencing the article. Page 76

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Assessment of the patient with acute abdominal pain
NS344 Cole E et ai (2006) Assessment of the patient with acute abdominal pain. Nursing Standard. 20, 39,67-75. Date of acceptance: October 10 2005.

Abdominal pain has many causes, from simple to complex presentations. Patients with abdominal pain may have a number of physiological and psychological needs. Nurses have a key role to play in patient assessment, history taking and management

• Identify the main causes of abdominal pain and differential diagnoses. • Ask relevant questions of a patient presenting with abdominal pain. • Discuss the appropriate investigations and nursing care requited. • Understand the principles of symptom management. Introduction A nurse is the first healthcare professional many patients with abdominal pain may encounter, whether in an A&E department, walk-in centre, outpatient clinic, primary care setting ot surgical ward. Traditional professional working boundaries are no longer fixed in the current healthcare climate (Coombs and Ersser 2004). Many nurses of all levels arc involved inthe initial assessment and treatment of a patient before a medical consultation. It is therefore desirable that in addition to traditional nutsing assessments, registered nurses are able to ask the correct questions, initiate tests and implement first-line treatments to ensure a timely and effective experience for the patient. Abdominal pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek medical care (Kelso and Kugelmas 1 997). It may be difficult to establish the cause of the abdominal pain because of the diversity of clinical signs and symptoms. However, the history can provide 70 per cent or...
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