Monday, September 12, 2016

Idea to help intubated patients communicate

At any one time, there are 800,000 patients with tubes down their throats who cannot communicate with their families or caregivers, even though they are alert and awake.

Sometimes they are provided a little notebook and a pencil.

But now some nurses, led by Rebecca Koszalinski, RN, PhD, at Florida Atlantic University, has produced a tablet-based electronic method called Speak For Myself. (tm)

They did a pilot study at three hospitals in South Florida, which was published in Computers, Informatics, Nursing. The participants were ages 45 to 91 and were in intensive care units for cardiovascular, neurological and surgical issues.

Not being able to verbalize needs and feelings can lead to poorer care.

Speak for Myself allows patients to communicate their level of pain. It helps them convey fear and loneliness, as well as physical needs such as the desire to be repositioned or use the toilet.

They can also indicate on a graphic where it hurts.

In one example, a patient was finally able to communicate that he had been having pain in the back of his throat--a tube was misplaced and was FINALLY fixed.

Another patient was able to get across that she no longer wished to be on the ventilator, come what may. This was an end-of-life wish and clearly stated.

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