Acute COPD exacerbation provides a window of opportunity for providing teaching, supportive care, and rehabilitation to a group of patients at high risk for complications and re-admissions. This article has attempted to make a case for the unique needs of this group of patients. Treatment of exacerbation is often viewed as "routine" by hospital staff and generally has focused upon the pharmacologic regimen of oxygen therapy, bronchodilators, antibiotics, and steroids. Within a few days, the patient is usually less dyspneic and is discharged with a combination of MDIs and a plan for steroid taper. All too often, the patient returns home with no idea of how to regain lost function or prevent future exacerbations. The use of the MAC provides a more complete picture of the unique needs and capabilities of COPD patients and brings together the collective expertise of the entire health team in designing a plan of rehabilitative care. Planned monitoring of the patient after discharge is an integral component to the success of the rehabilitation approach and the ability of the patient and family to move toward self-management of this chronic disease. Transitional care programs, community nurse referrals, telephone contacts, and outpatient visits are all appropriate methods for providing the type of support required to sustain rehabilitation. Traditionally, nurse researchers have examined psychosocial and functional performance outcomes of rehabilitation, however, nurses are in an ideal position to explore the methods of rehabilitation that yield the most positive outcomes over time and are sustainable over the course of the disease. Nursing can and should assume a leadership role in such initiatives.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care