10 Strategies to Improve Your Nursing Care HTML version

10 Strategies to Improve Your Nursing Care
©2003 Ed4Nurses, Inc.
2. Look for “Red Flags”
“What are Red Flags?”
“Red Flags” are subtle signs and symptoms that are easy to ignore or
dismiss, but they can give us valuable information about the patient.
How About an Example?
A slight increase in respiratory rate along with a subjective feeling of
dyspnea may signal respiratory distress. These signs are subtle and easy to
dismiss. They could be attributed to anxiety or pain, but they could also
signal early pulmonary edema or infection.
How do I use “Red Flags”?
When you identify a “Red Flag”, try not to dismiss it as something ordinary.
Rather seek to rule out the problem it may signal. In the patient above, early
pulmonary edema or infection may be the problem. However, if the nurse
attributes the “Red Flag” to anxiety or pain without considering early
respiratory distress, he may not catch the problem until the patient is in acute
crisis. “Red Flags” help nurses to ward off complications.
What are Other “Red Flags”
Changes in behavior or personality may signal early neurological changes.
Dyspnea may signal early myocardial ischemia. Decreased urine output
may signal acute renal failure. Subtle vital sign changes may also signal
trouble. If the diastolic is dropping, the patient may be developing sepsis. If
the pulse pressure is narrowing, the patient may be developing shock.
When Should I Look for “Red Flags”?
By paying close attention to “Red Flags” all the time, nurses will catch
problems sooner and avoid complications.