Pediatric nurses use a variety of tools during the assessment and treatment of their young patients. While some of these tools are the same as those used to treat adults, a pediatric nurse may deal with patients from birth through young adulthood, thus requiring a wide range of tools to meet each patient’s varying needs. In order to calm scared children, pediatric tools may feature children’s characters or look more like toys.
Pediatric nurses require a stethoscope with a smaller chest piece than the standard adult size. Depending on the age range of patients seen, a pediatric nurse may require a neonatal, pediatric and adult stethoscope in order to provide appropriate care from birth through young adulthood. The stethoscope plays an important part in the assessment process and is commonly used to assess cardiac, lung and bowel sounds. Today’s pediatric stethoscopes come in a variety of colors and also feature chest pieces with child-friendly covers, such as animal shapes, to make assessment less stressful.
Blood Pressure Cuff
Blood pressure cuffs are available in a variety of sizes for infants, children and young adults. Depending on the workplace, nurses may be provided with single-patient use cuffs that are thrown out after patient discharge or reusable cuffs. The blood pressure cuff is used during the assessment process to determine blood pressure and mean arterial pressure. Nurses can purchase their own cuffs, which are available in children’s patterns.
Cardiopulmonary monitors are used to monitor a child’s heart rate, cardiac rhythm and respiratory rate via the attachment of leads to the chest. Oxygen saturation can also be monitored with a small cuff, called a pulse oximeter, which wraps around the child’s finger, toe, hand or foot. These monitors are typically the same as those used with adults, but they need to be set to the appropriate parameters for pediatric patients based on age. These monitors have smaller leads and pulse oximeters available for use with pediatric patients.
Pediatric Pain Scale
Younger pediatric patients may not be able to describe their level of pain appropriately. A pediatric pain scale uses pictures to illustrate various levels of pain, ranging from no pain to extreme pain. The child can then point to the picture they feel represents the amount of discomfort they are experiencing.
There are many different pediatric pocket reference books available. A good pocket guide will be small in size yet include essential information such as medication information, common symptoms and diagnoses, normal vital signs, growth charts, immunization schedules and emergency information.