What Is Nursing Intervention? - Definition & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Terri Higdon
Treatments or actions taken to help a patient reach goals that were set during evaluative processes are called nursing interventions. Learn about the definition, types, and real-world examples of nursing interventions. Updated: 09/23/2021

What Does Intervention Mean?

What do you think of when you hear the word intervention? You might have heard the term used in regards to efforts made to help those with drug and/or alcohol problems. You may also be familiar with it as a television program. While that is a commonly used meaning of the word, in the nursing world, it has a broader meaning.

When nurses care for patients they follow the nursing process. This includes making a plan and setting goals for the patient. Nursing interventions are the actual treatments and actions that are performed to help the patient to reach the goals that are set for them. The nurse uses his or her knowledge, experience and critical-thinking skills to decide which interventions will help the patient the most.

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  • 3:31 How Do We Select…
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There are different classifications of nursing interventions that can involve care of the entire patient. This can be anything from promoting bowel functioning, educating the patient on new medication side-effects or just keeping the patient safe. Interventions can be focused on basic physiological needs, complex physiological needs, behavioral functioning, promoting safety, caring for the family, using the health system and/or the overall health of the community. As nurses, we are caring for the total patient, so there are can be interventions concerning every area of the patient's life.

Example of Nursing Intervention

To get a sense of how interventions work, let's take the case of an imaginary patient, Mrs. James. Mrs. James has recently been admitted into the hospital. She is a 72-year-old female with a blood pressure reading of 200/100. She is complaining of a headache and dizziness. We are going to learn some of the nursing interventions that we could provide while caring for Mrs. James. Now let's see how different types of nursing interventions might be applied to Mrs. James.

Types of Nursing Interventions

Some of the nursing interventions will require a doctor's order and some will not. There are different types of interventions: independent, dependent and interdependent. Let's learn about each and go over a few examples:

  • Independent - These are actions that the nurse is able to initiate independently. The following would be an example of a health promotion nursing intervention, which is an independent nursing action:
    • Mrs. James has started a new medication for her high blood pressure. She is concerned about the side-effects and is refusing to take the medication. The nurse intervenes by educating the patient on the purpose of the medication, the side-effects of the medication and the possible consequences of high blood pressure.
  • Dependent - These interventions will require an order from another health care provider such as a physician:
    • Mrs. James's blood pressure is consistently 180/100. The nurse reports this to the physician. The physician orders an antihypertensive medication for the patient. The nurse administers the oral medication to the patient as ordered.
  • Interdependent - These are going to require the participation of multiple members of the health care team:
    • Mrs. James reveals to the nurse that she consumes a diet very high in sodium. The nurse includes diet counseling in the patient care plan. To help the patient even more, the nurse enlists the help of the dietician that is available in their facility to spend time with Mrs. James to educate her on the role that diet plays in the control of high blood pressure.

How Do We Select Nursing Interventions?

So how does the nurse know what to do? How do they know which interventions to select? Nurses must use their knowledge, experience, resources, research of evidence-based practice, the counsel of others and critical-thinking skills to decide which nursing interventions would best benefit a specific patient. Nursing care plan books and computer programs are available that include generic nursing interventions for different problems and diagnoses, but these must then be individualized to specific patients and adapted to their situation.

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