Digoxin & Nursing: Implications & Considerations

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  • 0:03 Nursing Considerations
  • 0:54 Digoxin Use & Side Effects
  • 1:59 Digoxin Interactions
  • 2:23 Nursing Implications
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Nurses need to know how medications like digoxin affect patients and may potentially interact with other medications or medical care. This lesson looks at the specific nursing considerations and implications regarding digoxin.

Nursing Considerations

Ali is in her last year of nursing school, and part of her training involves learning about different medications and how they affect the body (which makes sense, right?). Ali learns that when she's instructed to give a patient a new medication, she's responsible for making sure she knows about the potential side effects and interactions that particular medication has. Knowing this information means she can adequately look for problems or monitor for complications so they don't cause long-term harm to a patient. This concept is referred to as nursing implications or nursing considerations in the medical world. You will usually see these two terms used interchangeably.

Obviously, there are too many medications for nurses or doctors to have all of these considerations and potential side effects memorized. Fortunately, handy guides exist to help nurses and doctors ensure that each patient is getting the best care possible.

Digoxin Use and Side Effects

To make sure she understands nursing implications and considerations, Ali is assigned a case study in one of her courses. She needs to investigate the implications of a drug called digoxin. Digoxin is a type of medication used to treat patients who experience heart failure or abnormal heart rhythm. Digoxin works by altering the mineral content of heart cells. For example, it changes the amount of sodium or potassium in the cells. This makes it easier for the heart to pump blood and reduces the amount of strain the heart muscle endures. Like any medication, digoxin can cause certain side effects. The most common include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

More serious side effects include:

  • Signs of allergic reaction (rash, swelling, itching)
  • Weakness
  • Changes in mental status or alertness
  • Changes in vision
  • Tenderness in breast tissue (in men)
  • Swelling
  • Changes in respiration

Some of these more serious side effects can be signs of a digoxin overdose.

Digoxin Interactions

In addition to side effects, Ali learns what existing medical conditions she should be aware of before administering digoxin to a patient. For example, digoxin can be dangerous to people with existing kidney or thyroid problems, imbalanced electrolytes, other heart or cardiovascular problems, or in patients who are obese. Additionally, there are medications that can affect how digoxin is absorbed.

Nursing Implications

With this knowledge in hand, Ali knows what considerations she needs to keep in mind as a nursing professional. These considerations include establishing baseline values for certain metrics and then monitoring for changes. For example, Ali, or other nurses, should be:

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