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11 Pneumonia Nursing Care Plans

Pneumonia Nursing Care Plans.In this guide are pneumonia nursing care plans and nursing diagnosis, nursing interventions and nursing assessment for pneumonia. Nursing interventions for pneumonia and care plan goals for patients with pneumonia include measures to assist in effective coughing, maintain a patent airway, decreasing viscosity and tenaciousness of secretions, and assist in suctioning. Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung parenchyma, associated with alveolar edema and congestion that impair gas exchange. Pneumonia is caused by a bacterial or viral infection that is spread by droplets or by contact and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The prognosis is typically good for people who have normal lungs and adequate host defenses before the onset of pneumonia. Pneumonia is a particular concern in high-risk patients: persons who are very young or very old, people who smoke, bedridden, malnourished, hospitalized, immunocompromised, or exposed to MRSA. Types of Pneumonia There are two types of pneumonia: community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), or hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) or also known as nosocomial pneumonia. Pneumonia may also be classified depending on its location and radiologic appearance. Bronchopneumonia (bronchial pneumonia) involves the terminal bronchioles and alveoli. Interstitial (reticular) pneumonia involves inflammatory response within lung tissue surrounding the air spaces or vascular structures rather than the area passages themselves. Alveolar (or acinar) pneumonia involves fluid accumulation in the lung’s distal air spaces. Necrotizing pneumonia causes the death of a portion of lung tissue surrounded by a viable tissue. Pneumonia is also classified based on its microbiologic etiology – they can be viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoan, mycobacterial, mycoplasmal, or rickettsial in origin. Aspiration pneumonia, another type of pneumonia, results from vomiting and aspiration of gastric or oropharyngeal contents into the trachea and lungs. Signs and Symptoms The main symptoms of pneumonia are coughing, sputum production, pleuritic chest pain, shaking chills, rapid shallow breathing, fever, and shortness of breath. If left untreated, pneumonia could complicate to hypoxemia, respiratory failure, pleural effusion, empyema, lung abscess, and bacteremia. Nursing care plan (NCP) and care management for patients with pneumonia start with an assessment of the patient’ medical history, performing respiratory assessment every four (4) hours, physical examination, and ABG measurements. Supportive interventions include oxygen therapy, suctioning, coughing, deep breathing, adequate hydration, and mechanical ventilation. Other nursing interventions are detailed on the nursing diagnoses in the subsequent sections. Here are 11 nursing diagnosis common to pneumonia nursing care plans (NCP), they are as follows: 
  1. Ineffective Airway Clearance
  2. Impaired Gas Exchange
  3. Ineffective Breathing Pattern
  4. Risk for Infection
  5. Acute Pain
  6. Activity Intolerance
  7. Hyperthermia
  8. Risk for Deficient Fluid Volume
  9. Risk for Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements
  10. Deficient Knowledge
  11. Deficient Fluid Volume
Ineffective Airway Clearance is a common NANDA nursing diagnosis for pneumonia nursing care plans. This diagnosis is related to excessive secretions and ineffective cough or nonproductive coughing. Inflammation and increased secretions in pneumonia make it difficult to maintain a patent airway.

Nursing Diagnosis

  • Ineffective Airway Clearance

Related Factors

The following are the common related factors for the nursing diagnosis Ineffective Airway Clearance related to pneumonia:
  • Tracheal bronchial inflammation, edema formation, increased sputum production
  • Pleuritic pain
  • Decreased energy, fatigue
  • Aspiration

Defining Characteristics

Here are the common assessment cues that could serve as defining characteristics or “as evidenced by” for ineffective airway clearance secondary to pneumonia.
  • Changes in rate, depth of respirations
  • Abnormal breath sounds (rhonchi, bronchial lung sounds, egophony)
  • Use of accessory muscles
  • Dyspnea, tachypnea
  • Cough, effective or ineffective; with/without sputum production
  • Cyanosis
  • Decreased breath sounds over affected lung areas
  • Ineffective cough
  • Purulent sputum
  • Hypoxemia
  • Infiltrates seen on chest x-ray film

Desired Outcomes

Below are the common expected outcomes for ineffective airway clearance secondary to pneumonia:
  • Patient will identify/demonstrate behaviors to achieve airway clearance.
  • Patient will display/maintain patent airway with breath sounds clearing; absence of dyspnea, cyanosis, as evidenced by keeping a patent airway and effectively clearing secretions.

Nursing Interventions and Rationale

In this section are the ineffective airway clearance nursing interventions and actions for pneumonia together with its rationales or scientific explanations. The following nursing assessment for pneumonia and nursing interventions are measures to promote airway patency, increase fluid intake, and teaching and encouraging effective cough and deep-breathing techniques.
Nursing Interventions Rationale
Assessment
Assess the rate, rhythm, and depth of respiration, chest movement, and use of accessory muscles. Tachypnea, shallow respirations and asymmetric chest movement are frequently present because of discomfort of moving chest wall and/or fluid in lung due to a compensatory response to airway obstruction. Altered breathing pattern may occur together with use of accessory muscles to increase chest excursion to facilitate effective breathing.
Assess cough effectiveness and productivity Coughing is the most effective way to remove secretions. Pneumonia may cause thick and tenacious secretions to patients.
Auscultate lung fields, noting areas of decreased or absent airflow and adventitious breath sounds: crackles, wheezes. Decreased airflow occurs in areas with consolidated fluid. Bronchial breath sounds can also occur in these consolidated areas. Crackles, rhonchi, and wheezes are heard on inspiration and/or expiration in response to fluid accumulation, thick secretions, and airway spasms and obstruction.
Observe the sputum color, viscosity, and odor. Report changes. Changes in sputum characteristics may indicate infection. Sputum that is discolored, tenacious, or has an odor may increase airway resistance and may warrant further intervention.
Assess the patient’s hydration status. Airway clearance is hindered with inadequate hydration and thickening of secretions.
Therapeutic Interventions
Elevate head of bed, change position frequently. Doing so would lower the diaphragm and promote chest expansion, aeration of lung segments, mobilization and expectoration of secretions.
Teach and assist patient with proper deep-breathing exercises. Demonstrate proper splinting of chest and effective coughing while in upright position. Encourage him to do so often.
  • Deep breathing exercises facilitates maximum expansion of the lungs and smaller airways, and improves the productivity of cough.
  • Coughing is a reflex and a natural self-cleaning mechanism that assists the cilia to maintain patent airways. It is the most helpful way to remove most secretions.
  • Splinting reduces chest discomfort and an upright position favors deeper and more forceful cough effort making it more effective.
Suction as indicated: frequent coughing, adventitious breath sounds, desaturation related to airway secretions. Stimulates cough or mechanically clears airway in patient who is unable to do so because of ineffective cough or decreased level of consciousness. Note: Suctioning can cause increased hypoxemia; hyper oxygenate before, during, and after suctioning.
Maintain adequate hydration by forcing fluids to at least 3000 mL/day unless contraindicated (e.g., heart failure). Offer warm, rather than cold, fluids. Fluids, especially warm liquids, aid in mobilization and expectoration of secretions. Fluids help maintain hydration and increases ciliary action to remove secretions and reduces the viscosity of secretions. Thinner secretions are easier to cough out.
Assist and monitor effects of nebulizer treatment and other respiratory physiotherapy: incentive spirometer, IPPB, percussion, postural drainage. Perform treatments between meals and limit fluids when appropriate.
  • Nebulizers humidify the airway to thin secretions and facilitates liquefaction and expectoration of secretions.
  • Postural drainage may not be as effective in interstitial pneumonias or those causing alveolar exudate or destruction.
  • Incentive spirometry serves to improve deep breathing and helps prevent atelectasis.
  • Chest percussion helps loosen and mobilize secretions in smaller airways that cannot be removed by coughing or suctioning.
  • Coordination of treatments and oral intake reduces likelihood of vomiting with coughing, expectorations.
Encourage ambulation. Helps mobilize secretions and reduces atelectasis.
Administer medications as indicated:
  • Mucolytics increase or liquefy respiratory secretions.
  • Expectorants increase productive cough to clear the airways. They liquefy lower respiratory tract secretions by reducing its viscosity.
  • Bronchodilators are medications used to facilitate respiration by dilating the airways.
  • Analgesics are given to improve cough effort by reducing discomfort, but should be used cautiously because they can decrease cough effort and depress respirations.
Use humidified oxygen or humidifier at bedside. Increasing the humidity will decrease the viscosity of secretions. Clean the humidifier before use to avoid bacterial growth.
Monitor serial chest x-rays, ABGs, pulse oximetry readings. Follows progress and effects and extent of pneumonia. Therapeutic regimen, and may facilitate necessary alterations in therapy. Oxygen saturation should be maintain at 90% or greater. Imbalances in PaCO2 and PaO2 may indicate respiratory fatigue.
Assist with bronchoscopy and/or thoracentesis, if indicated. Bronchoscopy is occasionally needed to remove mucous plugs, drain purulent secretions, obtain lavage samples for culture and sensitivity. Thoracentesis is done to drain associated pleural effusions and prevent atelectasis.
Anticipate the need for supplemental oxygen or intubation if patient’s condition deteriorates. These measures are needed to correct hypoxemia. Intubation is needed for deep suctioning efforts and provide a source for augmenting oxygenation.
Urge all bedridden and postoperative patients to perform deep breathing and coughing exercises frequently. To promote full aeration and drainage of secretions.
You may also like the following posts and care plans:

Related Nursing Care Plans

Related nursing diagnoses you can use to craft another pneumonia nursing care plans.

References and Sources

Recommended journals, books, and other interesting materials to help you learn more about Pneumonia Nursing Care Plans:
  • Black, J. M., & Hawks, J. H. (2009). Medical-surgical nursing: Clinical management for positive outcomes (Vol. 1). A. M. Keene (Ed.). Saunders Elsevier. [Link]
  • Dempsey, C. L. (1995). Nursing Home‐Acquired Pneumonia: Outcomes from a Clinical Process Improvement Program. Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy, 15(1P2), 33S-38S. [Link]
  • Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2016). Nurse‘s pocket guide: Diagnoses, prioritized interventions, and rationales. FA Davis. [Link]
  • Gulanick, M., & Myers, J. L. (2016). Nursing Care Plans: Diagnoses, Interventions, and Outcomes. Elsevier Health Sciences. [Link]
  • Head, B. J., Scherb, C. A., Reed, D., Conley, D. M., Weinberg, B., Kozel, M., … & Moorhead, S. (2011). Nursing diagnoses, interventions, and patient outcomes for hospitalized older adults with pneumonia. Research in gerontological nursing4(2), 95-105. [Link]
  • Yoshino, A., Ebihara, T., Ebihara, S., Fuji, H., & Sasaki, H. (2001). Daily oral care and risk factors for pneumonia among elderly nursing home patients. Jama286(18), 2235-2236. [Link]
Originally published January 10, 2010. 

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