Index Words: asthma, status asthmaticus, assessment, prioritization of nursing care, education
Giddens Concepts: Caregiving, Development, Gas Exchange, Patient Education
HESI Concepts: Assessment, Caregiving, Developmental, Gas Exchange, Oxygenation, Patient
L.S. is a 7-year-old who has been brought to the emergency department (ED) by his mother. She
immediately tells you he has a history of ED visits for his asthma. He uses an inhaler when he
wheezes, but it ran out a month ago. She is a single parent and has two other children at home with
a babysitter. Your assessment finds L.S. alert, oriented, and extremely anxious. His color is pale,
and his nail beds are dusky and cool to the touch; other findings are heart rate 136 beats/min, R
(RR) 36 breaths/min regular and even, oral temperature T 99.1°F (37.3°C), Spo2 89%, breath
sounds decreased in lower lobes bilaterally and congested with inspiratory and expiratory wheezes,
prolonged expirations, and a productive cough. As you ask L.S.’s mother questions, you note that
L.S.’s respiratory rate is increasing; he is sitting on the side of the bed, leaning slightly forward, and
having difficulty breathing. You are concerned that he is experiencing status asthmaticus.
1. You check the orders and need to decide which interventions are the priority at this time. Select all
that apply and explain the rationale.
a. Have L.S. lie flat.
b. Have L.S. perform incentive spirometry.
c. Administer oxygen via face mask to keep his Spo2 above 90%.
d. Administer albuterol (Proventil) and ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) via hand-held
nebulizer (HHN) STAT.
e. Reassess in 20 minutes, and if no improvement, administer salmeterol (Serevent
Diskus) via dry-powder inhaler (DPI).
f. Reassess in 20 minutes, and if no improvement, administer albuterol (Proventil)
and ipratropium (Atrovent) via hand-held nebulizer again.
g. Start IV normal saline (NS) at 15 mL/hr and administer methylprednisolone 2 mg/kg
IV STAT × 1 dose.
2. Explain what the nurse will assess before, during, and after the nebulizer treatment with albuterol.
CASE STUDY PROGRESS
You give L.S. the albuterol and Atrovent twice. His O2 saturation does not improve and remains at
88% with oxygen at 6 L/min via face mask. He says he “does not feel any better.” He is retracting
and his respiration rate remains 34 breaths/minute. You have started his IV infusion and
administered the methylprednisolone. L.S.’s mother is pacing and tells you she very upset and
worried. You overhead page the attending ED resident to assess, and you notify the patient-family
advocate. The ED resident, Dr. S., arrives within 2 minutes to assess L.S. and to speak to L.S.’s
mother. New orders are pending.
3. Chart your actions and the patient’s response using the SBAR
(Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation) forma
CASE STUDY PROGRESS
L.S. is admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for close monitoring. His condition
improves, and 24 hours later he is transferred to the floor. Asthma teaching is ordered. You assess
Ms. S.’s understanding of asthma and her understanding of the disorder.
4. Which statement by Ms. S. would indicate a need for further teaching? Explain your answer.
a. “If he takes medications for a while, he will outgrow his asthma.”
b. “Part of his treatment should be avoiding things that irritate his lungs.”
c. “If I recognize early warning signs, he might be able to take medicine and not go to
d. “He should go to the doctor regularly to make sure his asthma is being treated
5. You are educating L.S. and his mother on possible asthma triggers in their environment. They live
in public housing in an apartment without air conditioning. Which statements indicate possible
asthma triggers? Select all that apply.
a. “We have a pet fish.”
b. “L. collects stuffed animals.”
c. “There are hardwood floors.”
d. “Our visitors smoke outside.”
e. “The building has copper pipes.”
f. “There are dark stains in our bathroom.”
g. “We had to get the housing authority to treat for bugs.”
h. “He coughs when we have cold nights after a warm day.”
6. Discuss strategies to avoid the triggers you identified in the previous question.
CASE STUDY PROGRESS
The following day, L.S. gets the discharge orders shown in the chart.
Discharge to home
Follow up with primary care provider in 3 days for evaluation
Albuterol (Proventil HFA) MDI: 2 puffs with spacer every 4 hours prn
Prednisolone (Prelone) 1 mg/kg PO every day for 5 days (L.S. weighs 23 kg.)
Fluticasone (Flovent HFA) MDI: 1 puff with spacer twice a day
Montelukast (Singulair) 5 mg every evening PO
Provide peak flow meter
7. Ms. S. asks why she will use the spacer with the medicine L.S. inhales. Explain the purpose of
using a spacer with the metered-dose inhaler (MDI).
8. Place the steps of using the MDI with the spacer in the correct order (1 = first step, 5 = last step)
a. ___ Depress the top of the inhaler to release medication, and breathe in slowly for
3 to 5 seconds, holding the breath for 5 to 10 seconds at the end of inspiration.
b. ___ Shake the inhaler well, 10 to 15 times, and attach to the spacer.
c. ___ Wait 1 to 2 minutes between puffs if more than one puff of the quick-relief
medication is ordered.
d. ___ Remove and exhale slowly through the nose.
e. ___ At the end of expiration, place mouthpiece into the mouth, forming an airtight
f. ___ Tilt the head back and exhale completely.
9. During your medication teaching session with Ms. S. and L.S., you ask Ms. S. to teach back what
she has learned about taking two different inhalers. Ms. S. makes this statement: “So, if he has to
take both inhalers at the same time, he should take the Flovent first, then the albuterol. Right?” Is
this statement true or false? Explain your answer.
10. Ms. S. then asks, “How long should we wait between giving the two inhalers if they are both due
at the same time? Can we just give them one after the other?” What is your response?
11. As you continue your medication teaching, you explain the difference between long-term
controllers and quick relief medications. Place a C beside the controller medication(s) and
an R beside the quick relief medication(s).
_____ a. Albuterol
_____ b. Prelone
_____ c. Flovent
_____ d. Singulair
12. After L.S. takes a dose of the inhaled corticosteroid Flovent, what is the most important action he
should do next? Explain your answer.
a. Hold his breath for 45 seconds.
b. Rinse out his mouth with water.
c. Repeat the dose in 5 minutes if he feels short of breath.
d. Check his PFM reading for an improvement of function.
13. Ms. S. comes back from the pharmacy with the Prelone and asks you to show her how much to
give. Prelone is dispensed as 15 mg/5 mL. You give her a 10-mL oral dosage syringe. How much
will she draw up for this dose? (Round to tenths.)
14. During the teaching session, you give L.S. a peak flow meter (PFM) and provide teaching for him
and Ms. S. But L.S. looks puzzled and asks you, “Is this another medicine I have to take?” How
would you explain the purpose of a peak flow meter to L.S.?
15. L.S. tells you that he loves to play basketball and football and asks you whether he can still do
these activities. How will you respond?
16. Discuss the points to include in your discharge teaching regarding prevention of acute asthmatic
episodes and symptom management.
17. List three Internet sites to which you can refer them for further information.
CASE STUDY OUTCOME
L.S. is discharged to home and has a follow-up appointment scheduled in 2 weeks. His mother has
arranged for swimming lessons, and he plans to try out for his school’s swim team.
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