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Part of taking care of a patient is teaching them how to take care of themselves. When a patient leaves your care, it’s vital that they know what continued care looks like for their condition or disease process.
When a patient has a knowledge deficit about their condition, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to give themselves the care they need after leaving the hospital. They may forget to take important medications, or incorrectly perform important health care procedures.
A knowledge deficit can be extremely dangerous. Thankfully, a skilled nurse has the tools and resources to help minimize that danger. This article will explain what a knowledge deficit is, how you can diagnose one, and tips for creating a care plan.
What is a knowledge deficit?
Knowledge can play a huge part in a patient’s recovery. A knowledge deficit is a nursing diagnosis that happens when a patient doesn’t have the information or the ability to understand the information necessary to continue their health care plan. Patients with low health literacy can have trouble maintaining a treatment plan and are more likely to end up back in the hospital.
If a patient can’t understand their own condition, they may not be able to make informed choices regarding their well-being after leaving a physician’s care. A patient needs to know which medications to take, how to use specific medical devices, and what they can and can’t eat as part of their treatment.
A knowledge deficit might exist for several reasons. As a healthcare professional it’s up to you to decide what a patient’s needs are and identify a lack of knowledge. From there, determine rationales and initiatives to improve your patient’s decision-making abilities regarding health-related factors.
Here are some factors that can influence a patient’s ability or willingness to learn.
- Cognitive ability
- Physical ability
- Developmental stage
- Comorbidities the patient may have
- Patient culture, including ethnic background and religious beliefs
How to make a knowledge deficit nursing diagnosis
Diagnosing a knowledge deficit is the first step in giving a patient the information they need to sustain their well being. Let’s go over some tips to help a caregiver diagnose a knowledge deficit and develop an effective teaching plan for a patient.
Causes of knowledge deficit
Several factors can cause a knowledge deficit. Here are a few of the most common reasons a patient might not have the follow-through capability to maintain their health care plan.
- Lack of exposure to information resources about their condition
- Lack of cognitive ability might affect their learning process
- Misinterpretations or misunderstandings regarding concepts involved in treatment
- Unfamiliarity with a new diagnosis, or new type of new care plan
- Information regarding a patient’s condition might be complicated
- Attitudes or beliefs that ask them to refuse medical advice
- Lack of financial resources to adequately treat their condition
Knowledge deficit signs and symptoms
In order to develop a nursing diagnosis about a patient’s deficient knowledge, you’ll need to pay attention to things like their health behaviors and attitudes regarding self-care instructions.
Here are a few of the defining characteristics of a knowledge deficit:
- Verbalization: the patient vocalizes that they feel confused or uninformed about their treatment.
- Erratic behavior: the patient displays exaggerated behavior to compensate for their lack of understanding. They might avoid eye contact with care staff or interrupt you while sharing information.
- Violent behavior: The patient displays aggressive or threatening behavior toward hospital staff.
- Outward misinterpretation: The patient makes incorrect statements about their condition.
- Observations: The patient incorrectly performs newly-taught medical tasks or procedures involved in their care.
Knowledge deficit expected outcomes
Here’s a few of the results that you would hope to see when working with a patient with a knowledge deficit.
- The patient has an active role in their learning process. Ideally, you would work with your client to develop a teaching plan regarding their condition.
- The patient understands hurdles that may hamper their learning ability. The patient develops strategies for overcoming these cognitive limitations or impairment barriers.
- The patient can explain the risk factors involved in their condition. This includes what they can do to improve their condition (or at least stop it from worsening) when they’re discharged from care.
- The patient can demonstrate how to perform tasks involved with their care correctly. Such as administering their own medication or monitoring their blood pressure.
Developing knowledge deficit nursing care plans
If after performing a nursing assessment, you determine your patient does have a knowledge deficit, you’ll have to design a nursing care plan (NCP) to teach them what they need to know. Let’s go over a few examples of care plans for different types of knowledge deficits.
An effective NCP should be specifically tailored to a patient. Your nursing assessment will help you decide the best course of action for a patient care plan. Here’s some things you should consider when you’re designing a plan.
- Your patient’s health literacy: You need to figure out what your patient knows about their condition and their health in general to determine what they need to be taught.
- Your patient’s attitude and mental state: Some patients might be stubborn, emotional, or simply not in the right headspace to retain information. You may need to offer a patient comfort before teaching them, or wait for opportune times to educate them.
- Your patient’s personal limitations: Factors like a patient’s age, education level, and development level can affect their ability to understand instructional material.
- Your patient’s learning style: Learners have different preferences for acquiring knowledge. Some people like reading, some prefer to hear information audibly, and others need hands-on experience with a subject.
- Your patient’s capability to understand information: Does your client have any impairments or disabilities that make it harder for them to retain data?
- Your patient’s cultural background: A patient will be more likely to follow an NCP if it adheres to their lifestyle and personal beliefs.
Developing a knowledge deficit nursing care plan for surgery
After surgery, a patient might have a knowledge deficit regarding their prognosis, treatment plan, or possible complications from their procedure. Here are some tips to help get your patient up to speed.
- Go over the details about the surgery with your patient. Discuss the nature of the procedure, how well it went, and what future benefits or issues your patient can expect from the surgery.
- Teach the patient how to do any procedures they’ll have to perform after the procedure. You might teach them to do things like properly clean or dress surgical wounds.
- Tell the patient how to limit their risk of infection after surgery. This might include things like avoiding crowds whenever possible and maintaining proper hygiene.
- Talk about any prescriptions or medications your patient will be taking. Make sure they understand what each medication does, how it should be administered, and its risk factors.
- Make sure your patient is fully aware of any activities they should avoid. Understanding their limitations can help to shorten their healing time.
- Go over any dietary restrictions your patient will need to follow after surgery. If a patient doesn’t need to follow a restrictive diet, discuss the benefits of eating healthy foods.
- Inform the patient about any symptoms or issues that could arise that would require immediate medical attention. Symptoms could include things like fevers or urinary retention.
Developing a knowledge deficit nursing care plan for hypertension
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can cause severe health problems — especially if the sufferer doesn’t make lifestyle changes to combat it. Here’s a care plan you might follow to educate your patient about the risks of hypertension and give them the information they need to manage their blood pressure effectively.
- Find out how much your patient knows about hypertension. Determine If they have any barriers to learning about it.
- Teach the patient about factors that could aggravate their condition. These could include obesity or excessive alcohol intake. Be sure the patient understands the risks that come with having high blood pressure, like heart issues and urinary tract problems.
- Educate the patient about lifestyle changes they can make to lower their blood pressure. You might advise them to do things like follow an exercise regimen or give up smoking.
- Show the patient how to monitor their blood pressure on their own. Also, inform them how often they should monitor it and what they should do if their blood pressure is dangerously high.
- Stress the importance of following a hypertension treatment plan. Make sure they understand why they need to take specific medications and why (and how often) they should schedule follow-up appointments.
Developing a knowledge deficit nursing care plan for anemia
If anemia isn’t treated properly, it can cause all sorts of health issues including exhaustion, dizziness, and even an irregular heartbeat. Patients with anemia need to know precisely how to manage the condition to prevent more severe health problems. Here’s a possible NCP to help patients understand their anemia diagnosis.
- Assess what the patient knows about anemia. Identify any barriers to learning the patient might have. Go over the possible causes of anemia, like iron or B12 deficiencies.
- Tell the patient why it’s important to undergo routine diagnostic procedures Such as complete blood counts (CBC) to monitor their condition.
- Alert the patient to any behaviors or factors that might worsen the condition. This could include excessive alcohol consumption.
- Educate the patient about how maintaining a healthy diet can help them to limit the negative effects. Go over what a healthy diet for someone with anemia looks like.
- Inform the patient about supplements that can help combat anemia. Go over things like how much of each supplement your patient should take and how often they need to take it.
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Knowledge deficits can have a negative impact on a patient’s treatment and impede their recovery. If you can accurately diagnose and treat knowledge deficits, you’ll give your patient a much better chance of optimizing their care and improving their condition in the long run.
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