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Neurologic Assessment Skills for the Acute Medical Surgical Nurse

Crimlisk, Janet T.; Grande, Margaret M.

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Practical and efficient neurologic assessment skills are vital for acute care nurses. During an acute neurologic event, the nurse needs a focused assessment of the pertinent history and symptom analysis and an immediate head-to-toe survey, eliciting any abnormal signs to identify and correctly report the medical problem. When a patient requires routine monitoring of neurologic signs, the nurse’s role includes a neurologic assessment, collecting and assimilating that data, interpreting the patient problem, notifying the physician when appropriate, and documenting that data. This article presents an overview of a staff nurse’s neurologic assessment, explains common neurologic tests performed at the bedside, identifies an efficient way to perform the assessment, and indicates what to include and document when “neuro signs” are ordered.

Janet T. Crimlisk, MS, RNCS, NP, Nurse Educator, Boston Medical Center, MA.

Margaret M. Grande, MS, RNC, Nurse Educator, Boston Medical Center, MA.

The authors have no conflict of interest.

© 2004 National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses