Emergency Nursing & Triage Q 34 - Gyan Darpan : Learning Portal
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Wednesday 23 March 2022

Emergency Nursing & Triage Q 34

A prisoner, with a known history of alcohol abuse, has been in police custody for 48 hours. Initially, anxiety, sweating, and tremors were noted. Now, disorientation, hallucination, and hyper-reactivity are observed. The medical diagnosis is delirium tremens. What is the priority nursing diagnosis?
    A. Risk for Injury related to seizures
    B. Risk for Situational Low Self-esteem related to police custody
    C. Risk for Nutritional Deficit related to chronic alcohol abuse
    D. Risk for Other-Directed Violence related to hallucinations

Correct Answer: A. Risk for Injury related to seizures.

The client shows neurologic hyperactivity and is on the verge of a seizure. Seizures can recur, though rarely lead to status epilepticus. Uncharacteristic signs of seizure activity should warrant further workup. Patient safety is the priority. The patient needs chlordiazepoxide (Librium) to decrease neurologic irritability and phenytoin (Dilantin) for seizures. Thiamine and haloperidol (Haldol) will also be ordered to address other problems.

Option B: Delirium tremens occurs in chronic alcohol abusers who abruptly discontinue alcohol use, often as early as 48 hours. The initial minor withdrawal symptoms are characterized by anxiety, insomnia, palpitations, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms usually occur as early as 6 hours after cessation of alcohol use. More than 50% of those with a history of alcohol abuse can exhibit alcohol withdrawal symptoms at discontinuing or decreasing their alcohol use.
Option C: If withdrawal symptoms remain untreated, this can typically lead to DT. Additional evaluation of a patient with DT involves identifying electrolyte, nutrition, and fluid abnormalities. Most of these patients present with severe dehydration (up to 10 L fluid deficit) and severe electrolyte abnormalities, including hypoglycemia and severe hypomagnesemia, and hypophosphatemia.
Option D: After 12 hours, minor withdrawal symptoms can progress to alcohol hallucinosis, a condition characterized by visual hallucinations. It can typically resolve in 24 to 48 hours, and may also be associated with auditory and tactile hallucinations.

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