Overview

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This chapter will give an overview of a patient's care from assessment through to discharge.
Assessment forms an integral part of patient care and is considered to be the first step in the process of individualized nursing care. It provides information that is critical to the development of a plan of action that enhances personal health status.
Assessment decreases the potential for, or the severity of, chronic conditions and helps the individual to gain control over their health through self‐care (RCN [118]). Early and continued assessments are vital to the success of the management of patient care. It is critical that nurses have the ability to assess patients and document their findings in a systematic way.
Advanced nursing practice provides a high quality of care (McLoughlin et al. [97]), and has emerged in response to changing healthcare demands and the need for a flexible approach to care delivery. Key roles within advanced nursing practice include conducting comprehensive health assessments, demonstrating expert skills in diagnosing and treating acute or chronic illness and making specialist referrals as required. Physical assessment is a core procedure for those undertaking this role so has been incorporated into this chapter.
Discharge planning is key to ensuring that patients return to the community with the appropriate care to support them and their carers at home. The process can also reduce hospital length of stay and unplanned readmission to hospital, and improve the co‐ordination of services following discharge from hospital (Shepperd et al. [129]).
The nurse's ability to assess the needs of the patient and carer (Atwal [8]) is central to a good discharge.

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