Oxygen therapy or supplemental oxygen is fundamental for patients with disorders or difficulties in getting enough oxygen supply naturally (Singh, Gupta, Khatana, & Bhagol, 2017). Patients under oxygen therapy should be monitored to ensure that they do not run out of oxygen as it can lead to a life-threatening condition known as hypoxemia which leads to tissue hypoxia (Owens, 2013). As such, nurses have the responsibility of ensuring that patients with breathing disorders have adequate oxygen. The focused on an incident that involved a nurse failing to insert breathing tubes in a patient’s nose after replacing the oxygen tank. The reflection exercise will follow Gibb’s Reflective Cycle in Nursing (Husebø, O'Regan, & Nestel, 2018).
The incident occurred to a patient, Mr. P, who was oxygen-dependent, and he needed a refill of his oxygen tank while on the hallway. The nurses were busy assisting other patients and did not prioritize Mr. P’s case. As a student nurse on clinical placement and assigned to another patient, I was concerned about Mr. P’s case, and I asked for help from another nurse. The nurse later came to change his oxygen tank but forgot to put the oxygen tubes in the patient’s nose. During the patient’s transfer to his room, he was without oxygen. Upon keen observation of the nurse, she acted like she did not want to assist the patient and she acted bothered when I asked for help in assisting the patient.
I was petrified by this, as I expected the nurse to assist the patient without acting bothered or burdened by changing the patient’s oxygen tank and ensuring that he had oxygen as she wheeled him to his room. I felt intimidated and scared to confront the nurse and ask her about her attitude towards the patient and the failure to insert the oxygen tubes in the patient’s nose. I felt that the nurse was experience than I was and I did not want to make feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. I also did not want to appear as the “know-it-all” student nurse by confronting the nurse in front of the other nurses and patients. As the issue continued bothering me, I decided to talk it through with the professor, and she encouraged me to approach the nurse respectfully and confront her about the issue. The professor gave me the courage to face the situation and pulled the nurse aside and asked her if she had inserted the patient's oxygen tubes in his nose for oxygen supply. The nurse was startled, and she stated that she had had a double shift and was too tired that she had forgotten about it. She rushed to the patient’s room to confirm that she had inserted the tubes. The nurse assured me that she would not forget again and I should learn to raise an issue immediately for the sake of the patient.
The incident presented a learning opportunity for me as I understood that the nurse could have been exhausted which made it look like she acted bothered by assisting the patient. I wish that I had confronted the nurse sooner since the action would have harmed the patient by lowering the oxygen supply in the body and resulting in hypoxia (Owens, 2017). I was awed by the nurse’s calm and receptive response to my concern regarding her conduct despite coming from a student nurse who was inexperienced when compared to her. I was pleased that she responded positively and encouraged me to always speak out in case of a clinical mistake for the safety of the patient and prevention of detrimental events. The incident also helped me to learn the importance of being assertive towards colleagues while considering the possibility of work stress and fatigue to safeguard patient’s safety and wellbeing.
Reflecting on the incident, I realize that I should have acted promptly to enhance Mr. P’s safety as he was dependent on oxygen and reduction in oxygen supply even for a few minutes would have affected his health adversely. The inability and lack of confidence I had to face the nurse put the patient at risk for hypoxemia, a life-threatening condition contributed by low oxygen supply in the body (Singh et al., 2017). After a discussion with the professor, I realize that I need to focus on improving my confidence to confront colleagues when they make mistakes that I can point out for the wellbeing of the patients. I also understand that work pressures that colleagues may be under can contribute to minor errors whose effects are preventable if I act assertively.
In the future, I aim to develop my confidence and boldness to ensure that I can challenge colleagues when they make errors when caring for the patients. As I continue to build my skills in clinical placement, my goal is to become assertive and develop my knowledge of key clinical issues such as the need for oxygen therapy for dependent patients. I will also strive to avoid making judgments and conclusions about situations before gaining significant insights into the issues.
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