Newswise — Time is of the essence when a patient experiences a prolonged seizure, and immediate action is required to prevent long-term neurological damage, according to an article in the April issue of Critical Care Nurse (CCN).

The article, “Status Epilepticus in Adults: A Review of Diagnosis and Treatment,” provides much-needed guidance for critical care nurses and other clinicians whose patients experience continuous or recurrent seizures.

The current definition of status epilepticus is “five minutes or more of continuous clinical and/or electrographic seizure activity or recurrent seizure activity without recovery (returning to baseline) between seizures.” Seizures may be convulsive with jerking rhythmic movements of the arms and/or legs, or they may be non-convulsive, with seizure activity indicated through more subtle signs.

“A seizure can quickly change from a stressful situation to a life-threatening emergency. Without rapid assessment and treatment, seizures that progress to status epilepticus can cause permanent damage,” said co-author Thomas Lawson, RN, MS, ACNP-BC, an acute care nurse practitioner in the neuroscience critical care unit at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus.

Using recently updated guidelines for the evaluation and management of status epilepticus from the Neurocritical Care Society, the article provides specific nursing considerations related to caring for patients during this emergency. “With their role at the patient’s bedside, nurses are uniquely positioned to assist with the identification and management of status epilepticus to minimize long-term complications,” Lawson said.

The article outlines priorities for nursing care, from the initial five minutes, through the first 15-minute and 60-minute windows, to the following 12 to 24 hours.

The article includes examples of typical electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns, so that a staff nurse can quickly identify abnormal EEG findings and call the neurologist for an official reading.

Once seizures are diagnosed, emergent treatment begins with management of the airway, breathing and circulation, followed by medication interventions and rapid escalation of therapy to stop the seizures and prevent complications. Since the goal of treatment is to rapidly stop status epilepticus and prevent recurrence, the article also reviews 13 common antiepileptic medications, plus dosing, adverse effects and other considerations.

The article addresses other nursing-specific considerations related to patients who are experiencing status epilepticus, such as gastrointestinal, dermatologic and neurologic concerns.

As the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ bimonthly clinical practice journal for high-acuity, progressive and critical care nurses, CCN is a trusted source for information related to the bedside care of critically and acutely ill patients.

Access the article abstract and full-text PDF by visiting the CCN website at http://ccn.aacnjournals.org.

About Critical Care Nurse: Critical Care Nurse (CCN), a bimonthly clinical practice journal published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, provides current, relevant and useful information about the bedside care of critically and acutely ill patients. The journal also offers columns on traditional and emerging issues across the spectrum of critical care, keeping critical care nurses informed on topics that affect their practice in high acuity, progressive and critical care settings. CCN enjoys a circulation of more than 107,000 and can be accessed at http://ccn.aacnjournals.org/.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 225 chapters worldwide. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. www.aacn.org; facebook.com/aacnface; www.twitter.com/aacnme

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