Contemporary Issues in Adult Nursing: Preoperative Fasting

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Contemporary Issues in Adult Nursing: Preoperative Fasting

Trends in healthcare are continually evolving and changing, these fluctuations can often have massive implications for nursing practice. How we practice as nurses is often dictated by new policy and guidelines which are brought about by the evolving healthcare system. For an issue to be contemporary it has to be occurring in the present and in the sense of nursing it would seem that many issues could be deemed as contemporary due to the ever fluctuating nature of our healthcare service. For the purpose of this assignment I am going to address the issue of pre-operative fasting and the tradition of fasting patients from midnight until surgery the following day. Evidence suggests that this practice is outdated and unnecessary but still the practice occurs on many surgical wards. I aim to explore the reasons why patients are still subjected to unnecessarily long fasting times and how we as nurses can change this outdated practice.

I have chosen to look at this area of contemporary nursing because as a student nurse I have had practice experience in both a surgical ward and in general theatre. I feel that having had experience in both of these settings I would be able to link theory to practice experience.

Fasting patients from midnight before day of surgery has long been a time honoured tradition. The main reason for the Nil by Mouth rule from midnight has been to ensure an empty stomach at time of anaesthesia. If the patient is not fasted, gastric contents could be inhaled by the patient while they are under anaesthetic. Because the contents of the stomach are acidic it is important that regurgitation and inhalation does not occur as this can lead to an inflammatory response within the lungs which can have dire effects for the patient (Tudor, 2006). Although an empty stomach is vital

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