Assessment is the first stage of the nursing process and allows for appropriate care planning and early intervention. It is essential that a cultureof adequate assessment is incorporated within healthcare, in order to improvepatient outcomes (Hogan, 2006). Upon assessment, the nurse examines thepatient from head to toe and establishes a baseline assessment. Thisbaseline provides a point of reference to compare against, to determine if thepatient’s condition is improving or declining (Craig et al, 2006).
Assessmentshould be seen as a continuous process which is a vital element of holisticpatient care.
In order to carry out a holistic assessment the nurse shouldconsider thewhole person, not just the physical illness. Holistic practice drawson knowledge, theories, intuition, skill, and experience (Potter and Frisch,2007). Assessment tools such as An Early Warning Score (EWS) can help identifythose at risk of developing a critical illness, and is an essential tool postoperatively. Observations of the heart rate, respiratory rate, saturations, bloodpressure, orientation, pain, and temperature are all recorded. By accuratelyrecording this information, the nurse is able to prioritize patient care (Watson,2006). Armstrong and Mitchell (2008) found that although assessment toolscan compliment nursing assessment, the nurse should not lose sight of thelimitations of their use. The Department of Health (2000), have said thatrespiratory assessment and management, form part of the core critical skillsthat all nurses should have. However Respiratory rate is not recorded lessthan 50 % of the time, with pulse and blood pressure being the mostfrequently recorded, this is worrying as changes in respiratory rate can be anearly indication of deterioration, especially in the post operative patient(Hogan, 2006, Smith et al, 2006).Minnie’s EWS were recorded 4 hourly, it was usual for Minnie to have a scoreof zero, however her pain score was usually always above 5, so a care planfor pain was put in place. An effective scale for the assessment of pain is The