ACTION STAT: Pulmonary embolism

September 2005 
Volume 35  Number 9
Pages 88 - 88
  PDF Version Available!


Clinical Nurse Specialist and Outreach Educator, Northwest Medstar Staff Nurse, Intensive Care Unit, Sacred Heart Medical Center, Spokane, Wash. Figure. No caption available.

YOU'RE ASSESSING a postoperative patient, Mr. Harris, 68, when you notice that he's unusually anxious and restless. He's tachycardic, with a heart rate of 124, and tachypneic, with a respiratory rate of 36. His Spo 2 is 90% on room air. Upon questioning, he tells you that for about the past half hour, he's been somewhat short of breath and noticed that whenever he takes a deep breath, he feels a sharp, stabbing pain on the right side of his chest. You also notice that his lower left leg is swollen and noticeably larger than the right leg.

What's the situation?

Mr. Harris has no significant medical history, but he's obese, with a body mass index of 30 kg/m 2 . Retired, he has a sedentary lifestyle and has smoked a half pack of cigarettes per day for the past 50 years. Three days ...

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