The outcome of an injured extremity is affected primarily by initial assessment and immediate treatment of the extremity. Delaying the recognition of neurovascular compromise can cause the amputation of an extremity, or even the death of the patient. However, having the foundation of knowledge regarding total neurovascular function can equip the nurse with accurate assessment skills and the knowledge of the need for immediate action. This essential orthopaedic knowledge is used daily by the orthopaedic nurse to provide the best patient care possible with the best possible outcome.
Linda Altizer, MSN, RN, ONC, CLNC, is a Medical-Legal Consultant in Hagerstown, Maryland.