Nursing interventions, also called nursing actions, are the parts of overall nursing care plans that carry out the task required to meet the goals for patient care. Goals differ depending on the patient’s needs, and interventions can change frequently as new issues emerge and old ones are resolved. In order to be successful, interventions must meet the needs and abilities of the patients, be adaptable when changes arise, and prioritize based on the most important goals.
Nursing care plans consists of several parts: nursing diagnoses, expected outcome or goal, nursing interventions, and the rationale behind those interventions. Nursing diagnoses make statements about the patient’s overall health, weaknesses, and strengths. They do not diagnosis the medical condition itself, but rather the effects of the condition on the patient. The expected outcome is a reasonable goal, usually within a specified time period, that nurses hope to help their patients obtain. Nursing interventions are the tools used to reach those goals.
The most important tip for writing good nursing interventions is making sure those interventions focus on the most urgent goal. Patients can have dozens of nursing interventions and goals, but some are far more urgent than others are. For example, a patient suffering from extreme pain is not ready to address his knowledge deficit relating to managing his medical condition. The interventions designed to stop the pain should take precedence over those designed to teach the patient better disease management skills.
Nursing interventions must clearly define who will be carrying out the intervention and at what time intervals. A patient may see many nurses during his hospital stay, and each nurse has access to the care plan. If a patient is diagnosed with activity intolerance and the goal is to help him ambulate (walk) up and down the halls of the ward, the intervention must clearly state how often the patient should ambulate.
Research is another integral part of nursing interventions, as each intervention should include a rationale explaining why it is beneficial to the patient. For example, a nursing intervention for a patient with pain may be to demonstrate a relaxation technique to the patient. The rationale comes from research suggesting that such techniques help relax the muscles, which in turn reduces pain. It is typically not necessary to cite the source of the information on the care plan, but nurses should be prepared to back up their rationales if questioned about them.
Flexibility is an important aspect of nursing interventions. Patient progress can change daily, even hourly, and interventions that are appropriate one day may not be appropriate the next. Nurses must continuously monitor progress and be prepared to substitute different interventions based on the needs of their patients. All changes should be documented immediately so all patient care providers are kept up to date.