Pulmonary Embolism: Surveillance is Key
Patients oftentimes present with symptoms typically associated with having a pulmonary embolism; however, is it possible that they may not show any symptoms of this potentially deadly clinical condition. Learn more about PE, the possible pharmacological treatment options, and explore the potential nursing implications that can arise when caring for patients with PE – all while earning CNE credits.
Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a clot (thrombus) that formed somewhere in the body dislodges, travels through the right side of the heart to the lungs, and blocks one of the arteries that supplies blood flow to the lungs. The vascular obstruction can cause sudden death, ventilation-perfusion (V/Q) mismatching, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary infarction, hemodynamic compromise, right-sided heart failure, and multiple organ failure. Some patients with PE exhibit clinical manifestations such as hypoxemia and chest pain; however, some are asymptomatic, emphasizing the need for a high index of suspicion and close surveillance of patients at high risk. This article provides an overview of the nursing implications associated with the management of patients with suspected or confirmed PE.
Key Learning Outcomes
- Describe risk factors for and how patients might present with pulmonary embolism (PE).
- Discuss nursing implications to consider when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed PE.
- Identify medication management options and associated safety concerns for patients with PE.
Jamie Gilley MSN, APRN, NNP-BC; Sandra K. Hanneman, PhD, RN, FAAN; Amanda Holmes, MSN, APRN, NNP-BC; Evaline Sims, MSN, APRN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN
The authors are affiliated with the research department at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Cizik School of Nursing. Jamie L. Gilley, Amanda Holmes, and Evaline Sims are PhD students. Sandra K. Hanneman is the Jerold B. Katz Distinguished Professor for Nursing Research.