be done and what the patient can do to assist with the
activity. Often the success of the test or procedure is
dependent upon the patients informed cooperation.
When collecting specimens, the Hospital Corpsman
must complete the following procedures:
Collect the correct kind and amount of specimen
at the right time.
Place the specimen in the correct container.
Label the container completely and accurately.
This often differs somewhat for each facility, and
local policies should be consulted.
Complete the laboratory request form
Record on the patients record or other forms, as
appropriate; the date, time, kind of specimen
collected; the disposition of the specimen; and
anything unusual about the appearance of the
specimen or the patient during the collection.
When assisting with a diagnostic procedure, the
Hospital Corpsman must understand the sequence of
steps of the procedure and exactly how the assistance
can best be provided.
Since many procedures
terminate in the collection of a 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 are attended to, the
physicians orders accurately followed, and any
supplies or equipment used appropriately discarded.
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 healthcare 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. References and the continued in-service
training devoted to medication administration at all
medical facilities support the importance of accurate
preparation and administration of drugs.
An errorwhich also includes omissionscan
seriously affect a patient, even to the point of causing
death. Each Hospital Corpsman is responsible for his
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
However, in every healthcare
environment, the Hospital Corpsman can access other
healthcare 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 that
patients medications. There should be basic drug
references available to all personnel handling
medications, including the PhysiciansDesk 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.
Food and Fluid Therapy
The following brief discussion covers food and
fluid and how 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 problems,
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 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
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 are 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
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.