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Penlight--a useful tool.

Own a penlight. This is a very useful tool for exploring wounds, the mouth, and other areas for a full assessment but do not get carried away with checking pupils though; pupil checks are very stimulating to the patient and are not a good sign of neurologic disorders.

Great tip here. Carry your own penlight with you. You know how hard it is to find a working flashlight on your nursing unit. It seems like they are never around and the ones that are don't have batteries that work; so if you are trying to do an assessment and see some areas that are difficult to see because of poor interior lighting it will be difficult without a working flashlight.

There are great little penlights now that are really tiny little things, only a couple of inches long, very small, thin, and light, and they work with an LED light which are very bright. These are great for exploring around dressing. You might have a dressing that is starting to peel up a little bit and you can look in the corner of it and see if you see any drainage before you reinforce it. Flashlights are great for doing wound checks; when you are cleaning out a wound you can really see down into the borders of the wound and inside the wound so that you can tell what it looks like in there.

A flashlight is also good to have when you are turning the patient and cleaning him up so that you can get a good look at his back; maybe the area is under a shadow while you are turning, and your penlight can help you assess his back side.

One part of this tip was to avoid using your penlight to check the patient's pupils. Pupil checks are very stimulating to the patient. On your neuro patients it is important to decrease stimulation. So, put that penlight down and don't check the pupils more often that you have to. Certainly you have to perform pupil checks as part of your neuro check, part of your paperwork, but in between neuro checks let's not check pupils. There are a lot better ways to assess whether or not your patient's neurologic status is changing.

Editor's note: As a Wound, Ostomy Continence nurse, I totally agree; especially the new LED lights-best thing ever invented for assessing wound.
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Title Annotation:News You Can Use
Author:Woodruff, David W.
Publication:Nevada RNformation
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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