Whyte D (2014) Using oral mucosa to assess for dehydration. Nursing Times; 110: online issue.
A three-week trial involving 68 beds in three hospital wards was carried out to determine the effectiveness of a newly developed nursing escalation tool, the Patient Oral Mucosa chart, which is designed to detect early stages of dehydration in patients.
Patients’ oral mucosa was examined during routine observations. Each examination gave a rating of 1-4; patients with ratings of 1 or 2 did not need escalating above nurse-led action and hydration monitoring, whereas 3 and 4 were escalated to the doctor or acute response team.
Evidence of the chart’s effectiveness was collated from patients’ hospital notes.
Of 155 returned charts, 41 (23.2%) had scores 3 or 4 recorded. However, only 31 incidences (16.7%) could be included due to a lack of documented evidence. Of these, the chart was shown to be 85% accurate in determining moderate to severe dehydration.
- Why are dehydration rates among hospital patients so high?
- What methods have you found effective in maintaining hydration?
- Would a strategy that focuses on preventing, rather than identifying dehydration be of more use?