specimen, the above principles of specimen collecting must be followed. Following the completion of a procedure or specimen collection, it is the responsibility of the assisting hospital corpsman to ensure that the patients safety and comfort have been attended to, the physicians orders are accurately followed, and that any supplies or equipment used are appropriately disposed of.
A major form of therapy for the treatment of illness is the use of drugs. It is not uncommon for the medical patient to be treated with several drugs. As members of the health care team, hospital corpsmen assigned to preparing and administering medications are given a serious responsibility demanding constant vigilance, integrity, and special knowledge and skills. The preparation and administration of medications were addressed in great detail in the Hospital Corps School curriculum. Chapter 6 of the Nursing Procedures Manual is devoted entirely to medications. These references and the continued inservice training devoted to medication administration at all medical facilities support the importance of accurate preparation and administration of drugs.
An error, which also includes omissions, can seriously affect a patient, even to the point of causing death. Each hospital corpsman is responsible for his or her own actions, and this responsibility cannot be transferred to another. No one individual is expected to know all there is to know about all patients and medications. However, in every health care environment, the hospital corpsman has access to other health care providers who can assist in clarifying orders, explaining the purposes, actions, and effects of drugs, and in general answering any questions that may arise concerning a particular patient and his or her medications. There should be basic drug references available to all personnel handling medications, including the Physicians Desk Reference and a hospital formulary. As a hospital corpsman, it is your responsibility to consult these members of the team and these references for assistance in any area in which you are not knowledgeable or whenever you have questions or doubts. You are also responsible for knowing and following local policies and procedures regarding the administration of medications.
An entire section of this chapter addressed the subject of nutrition. The following will be a brief discussion on food and fluid as it relates specifically to the medical patient. Loss of appetite, food intolerance, digestive disturbances, lack of exercise, and even excessive weight gain influence a medical patients intake requirements. Regardless of their medical problem, patients have basic nutritional needs that frequently differ from those of the healthy person. As a part of the patients therapeutic regimen, food is usually prescribed in the form of a special diet. Regardless of the kind of diet prescribed, the patient must understand why certain foods are ordered or eliminated and how compliance with the regimen will assist in his or her total care. It is the responsibility of the corpsman to assist the patient in understanding the importance of the prescribed diet and to ensure that accurate recording of the patients dietary intake is made on the clinical record.
In many disease conditions, the patient is unable to tolerate food or fluids or may lose these through vomiting, diarrhea, or both. In these cases, replacement fluids as well as nutrients is an important part of the patients medical management. On the other hand, there are several disease conditions in which fluid restrictions are important aspects of the patients therapy. In both of these instances, accurate measurement and recording of fluid intake and output must be carefully performed. Very frequently this becomes a major task of the staff hospital corpsman.
Earlier in this chapter, under Health Education, the goals and principles of patient teaching were addressed. When taken in the context of the medical patient, there are some general areas of patient teaching needs that must be considered, particularly as the patient approaches discharge from an inpatient status. They include the following: