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July 2012, Volume 42 Number 7 , p 54 - 60


  • Cheryl Kaufman BSN, RN, CLCP, CNLCP


NURSES LEARN VERY EARLY in their careers the importance of designing a care plan using the nursing process as the foundation. The nursing process is the scientific basis for the critical thinking model known as the nursing care plan, whether it's for a day, a week, or a lifetime. It's the common language among nurses.1This article discusses the role and purpose of a nursing care plan designed for patients who will need ongoing nursing care throughout their lifetimes. For examples, see Who needs a lifetime care plan?Mr. R, 44, was cleaning the holding tank on a fishing vessel when he slipped and fell 15 feet onto the dock below. He sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and subsequently experienced cardiac arrest while undergoing a computed tomography scan. He was successfully resuscitated but suffered global hypoxia resulting in permanent brain damage. Mr. R is an example of someone who needs a lifetime nursing care plan.By utilizing nursing diagnoses, nurses build care plans for patients like Mr. R by setting nursing care priorities and establishing a general ranking of the patient's needs and concerns. A nursing diagnosis is defined as a clinical judgment about individual, family, or community responses to actual or potential health problems or life processes that provides the basis for selecting nursing interventions to achieve outcomes for which the nurse is accountable.2 The nursing process and use of an accurate and valid nursing diagnosis involve a critical thinking model; the nurse's critical thinking skills allow decision making and judgments based on his or her education, knowledge, training, and experience.A nursing care plan designed for a lifetime specifies lifelong healthcare needs, items, and services needed to meet those needs, and the associated costs. Similar terms you may hear include life care plan, lifetime care plan, nurse life care plan, and lifelong care plan. Regardless of the name used, this type of plan lends structure to the future and

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