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SOURCE: National Institutes of Health, U.S.Department of Health and Human Services: Link to NIH

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Health Care Implications

The psychosocial issues involved in defining, diagnosing, and treating lupus have implications for the way the nurse or other health professional works with a patient who has lupus.

For example, a person who is newly diagnosed with lupus needs help in getting current, accurate information about the disease and in defining realistic expectations and goals.

The Patient Information Sheets in Chapter 7 can help.

The health professional can clarify information with the patient's doctor, make rounds with the doctor, and act as a liaison between the patient and the doctor, if needed. Frequently, many doctors are involved in caring for a patient with lupus at one time.

This may increase the patient's confusion and leave gaps in information.

Emotional support for the patient is essential.

Being available for questions, providing reassurance, and encouraging discussion of fears and anxieties are all crucial roles that the nurse can play.

The person with lupus who is hospitalized during a flare requires symptomatic nursing care. It is important to note that objective data, such as anemia or sedimentation rate, may not support subjective complaints of fatigue or pain.

Careful head-to toe assessment and documentation of all symptoms and complaints are important.

Symptomatology changes constantly, so frequent reassessment is necessary.

Reevaluations validate a patient's concerns and alert the doctor to changes that may be transient yet significant.

The patient's tolerance for physical activity and need to control what she or he can do should be respected. The patient should be involved in developing a care plan and daily schedule of activities.

The best way to treat lupus is to listen to the patient, whether she or he was diagnosed today or years ago.

The patient's support systems can be expanded to include pamphlets and books, physical or occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation, homemaker services, the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA), the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), the SLE Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation (AF).

Lupus is a challenge to everyone concerned. The health professional has a key role in its management.

Accurate documentation, supportive care, emotional support, patient education, and access to community resources will provide the patient and her or his family with the tools they need to cope effectively.

Source: National Institutes of Health, U.S.Dept of Health and Human Services

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