Nursing Case Study Essay Example

Lots of non-nursing students have the mistaken notion that nursing students do not have to write a lot. After all, they spend their time in biology and chemistry labs and do field experiences. Actually, there is a long history of writing for such students:

  • They must learn how to write a nursing entrance essay, because no one can get into nursing school without one. They often struggle with these, do some research and look for tips on writing a nursing school admission essay.
  • If these students are looking of financial aid, the may indeed have to compose an amazing nursing scholarship essay
  • Many courses in medical fields require essays, research papers, lab reports and more. And many of them are really challenging because they are all on scientific topics and often involve some lab research. A typical medical school essay, for example will involve research of existing literature and the setting up of a study based upon that literature.

Writing a Nursing Essay

Nursing students will find that a basic essay assignment will have the same structure as essays they have written for non-medical courses – introduction, body, and conclusion. The one thing that may differ in the essay writing process may be the formatting. It is common for Harvard formatting to be required in medical programs, so students will want to research Harvard strategies for essay writing. The “rules” are definitely a bit different.

The other caveat in all of this is that medical students’ essays do regularly involve some lab research that the student has conducted. In these cases, the conclusion will be a bit different from that of another type of essay. Often, the conclusion must speak to the significance of the results of a study. Learning how to write a conclusion for a nursing essay can be a bit challenging and will take some practice.

Writing That Nursing Case Study Essay

It is inevitable. As nursing students move into their upper level coursework, they will be spending far more time in hospitals completing lots of field experience. And there is coursework associated with those practicums. Part of that coursework will involve one or more case study essays. These are different from any other writing assignments you have had in the past. Let’s look at how a case study is structured – while specific department guidelines may vary a bit, the elements will be common.

What is a Case Study?

A nursing case study is an in-depth study of a patient that is encountered during the student’s daily practice in a practicum. They are important learning experiences because the student can apply classroom/theoretical learning to an actual situation and perhaps make some conclusions and recommendations. It will require lots of planning of methodology, literature reviews, and careful documentation as the case study proceeds.

Sections of a Case Study

There are three large sections – Information about the Patient; The Nurse’s Assessment of the Patient’s Status; and the Treatment Plan, along with Recommendations. Within each large section there are sub-sections.

Section 1 – Patient Status

This section includes demographic information, the patient’s medical history, and the current patient’s diagnosis, condition, and treatment.

Here you will obviously speak about the patient – and you will commit all of this information to writing. Do not rely on your memory – write everything down. You will also need to explain why the information is important to include in your study. You will need to include the reasons why the patient sought medical care and make note of the first symptoms the patient experienced. Next, you will identify the subsequent diagnosis that was made.

Given the diagnosis, what is the process/progression of the disease? You should include its causes, the symptoms, what you have observed. Describe what your role as a nurse will be.  

Section 2 – Nursing Assessment

You will need to prepare your own assessment of the patient’s condition. And as you produce that assessment, be certain to explain why you have made each assessment. For example, suppose a patient has a diagnosis of cancer. One of the symptom presentations is difficulty in urination. You will need to document that urination issue and suggest potential causes of it. Then you will need to come up with options for treatment based upon the potential causes. And, in this case, how will you determine the cause of the issue?

Section 3 – The Current Treatment and Recommendations for Improving It

Describe the treatment – medication, therapy, etc. and explain why each treatment is appropriate for the disease. You will also need to discuss how the treatment plan is improving the patient’s quality of life.

What are the treatment goals? What are the benchmarks for assessing success and how, specifically, will it be documented?

The Implementation and Documentation

Once the treatment has been implemented, it will be your job to document each treatment activity – time, dose, etc. – and then track the improvement that does or does not occur. Suppose, for example, that you begin a regimen of a diuretic for your cancer patient. How will you determine success? How long will you implement the treatment to determine success or not? And if it is not successful, what is your next treatment option?

The data you gather must be carefully recorded and then reported in this section of your case study. This is the same as any scientific study. You must also analyze the data before you make decisions about the efficacy of the treatment plan and come to conclusions.

Toward the end of this section, you will be making recommendations – they may be simply to continue the current treatment plan; you may have conducted some research that shows another or an additional treatment plan is warranted. In this case, you may very well recommend this new treatment plan. Just remember, you must justify any recommendation you make, and usually this comes from medical research literature.

Crafting a nursing case study really has two major tasks.

  • First, you select a patient, and begin to collect history. You also set up treatment plans and collect data to determine the efficacy of the plan and then determine your recommendations.
  • Second, you actually have to write up the final piece. And it must be impeccably written.

If you have concerns about your writing skills, consider finding an essay writing service nursing department. While there are lots of writing services out there, you want one that has a specific group of researchers and writers with experience in producing medical case studies. You may even find a specific nursing essay writing service UK that exists only for helping medical program students. Such experts will be familiar with the style, tone, formatting, and terminology and can make quick work of your write-up.

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Nursing Assignment


The objective of this paper is to analyse the case of health scenario of Mr. Carlos Sanchez as described below:

Mr. Sanchez is a 69-year old gentleman who lives at home with his wife Sandra. He is a retired public servant and has smoked heavily for the last 50 years. Since his retirement four years ago, Carlos had mildly elevated blood pressure for which he took diltiazemdaily. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with type II diabetes mellitus for which he was prescribed metformin. However, Carlos often forgets to take his daily sugar tablet. He is overweight and likes nothing better than to have a couple of glasses of wine and cheese every night with his wife. Over the last few weeks, he started to get breathless when gardening or walking up the gentle hill near his house. On Friday afternoon, while gardening while with Sandra, Carolos collapsed. Sandra rang ambulance and within twenty minutes he arrives to the emergency department on a stretcher.

1.1. Background

Prior to the admission, the patient was reported to be having mild blood pressure, suffering from Type II diabetes, panting for breadth. By disposition, he was obese, a regular drinker and heavy smoker. Besides, he was forgetful to take his medication of Metformin prescribed for diabetes.

At the time of admission, his conditions were reported to be as follows:

  • He was struggling to breadth, conscious, but characterised by confusion.

The nurse who conducted a preliminary check had recorded the following readings:

  • PR: 96 bpm, irregular, RR: 35 breaths/min, shallow and BP: 160/110 mmHg
  • SpO2: Unable to be determined

The intern on duty who did a physical examination recorded that he had left and right crackles to mid-lung field and oedema to ankles and knees. According to him the preliminary findings point towards the occurrence of congestive heart failure but in order to confirm he opines for the need to take additional tests towards which he orders for electro cardiogram and chest x-ray.

The results show the existence of atrial fibrillation, pulmonary oedema, and cardiac hypertrophy.


2.1. Pathophysiology

(a) Atrial fibrillation

Episodes of Atrial fibrillation (AF) can either be sudden or chronical in nature. It is considered to be chronic if it reappears after seven days. It is termed to be persistent if the attack does not cease within a period of 48 hours. In a majority of the patients, (between 70 and 80%), AF is associated with organic heart disorders, characterised by coronary heart disease, hypertension accompanied by left ventricular hypertrophy, valve disease and or congenital heart defects.

Some of the important causes for the occurrence of AF could be traced to reversible factors as alcohol ingestion, hypothyroidism, or pulmonary embolism. It often causes irregular and rapid heart rate resulting in palpitations, dyspnoea, and asthenia. It also causes impairment of hemodynamic function while at rest or physical activity. Its presence increases the risk of cerebrovascual insults (Wolf, 1991). In a number of surveys, (Kannel, 1982), it has been established that the cardiac and total mortality in patients with AF is doubled when compared with sex and age-adjusted groups in sinus-rhythm. A dominant part of such risk is attributed to the underlying structural heart diseases. It needs however to be noted the risk level of those diagnosed with lone A.F. is at much lesser risk, at least in those who age is below 60 years (Kopecky, 1987). This could be due to the fact that a decreasing tendency of the occurrence of primary AF is seen due to the availability of sophisticated diagnostic procedure which facilitates the exposure of the underlying diseases faster. Its occurrence in elderly patients is also relatively lesser.

The pathophysiological mechanisms of sudden attack and of chronic AF even though have not been fully understood, yet the factors that are known to contribute to it are (i) shortened refractory period, (ii) regional variations of refractoriness and conduction velocity and (iii) increased ectopic activity. The substrate of AF is described as a continuous activation of the atrial myocardium characterised by reentry of several circles which are not anatomically fixed but found to be spread and mingled in a seemingly chaotic pattern (Moe, 1962). The probable reason for the forming of several reentry cycles could be attributed to the short refractoriness and slow conduct velocity respectively which results in short wavelength. This is confirmed by the existence of electrophysiologic remodeling with the gradual shortening of the refractory period during the first hours to days of an attack of atrial fibrillation. This also contributes to the stabilisation of the atrial fibrillation and in fact this has led to the formulation of the statement that ‘atrial fibrillation begets atrial fibrillation (Wijffels, 1995).

(b) Cardiac hypertrophy

Cardiac hypertrophy is characterised by an increase in the mass of the contractile and ancillary proteins of the heart. Hypertension is seen as the commonest cause for the occurrence of cardiac hypertrophy. It not only increases the risk of myocardial ischaemia and ventricular arrhythmias, but also constitutes an independent risk for the sudden death of the patient wherein the origin is unknown (Shapiro & Sugdeu, 1996)

A close relationship exists between total peripheral resistance (TPR) and hypertension. When the TPR is elevated diastolic rather than systolic blood pressure rises (Guyton & Hall, 2000, Opie, 2004). The starting phase of hypertension is marked by an increase in the TPR associated with the tropic factors in the blood vessel wall (Marrero et al, 1997).They cause cardiac hypertrophy. Besides, cardiac hypertrophy is more correlated to systolic dysfunction than diastolic dysfunction (Middlemost, 1999). Alcohol consumption constitutes one of the important pathophysiological bases for cardiac hypertrophy. Furthermore where there is the presence of cardiac hypertrophy, there is a greater potential for arrhythmia.

(c) Pulmonary Oedema

Pulmonary Oedema is a condition where there is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the lungs. It is characterised by the accumulation of fluid accompanied by low-protein content in the lung interstitium and alveoli due to cardiac dysfunction.

The pathophysiological mechanisms that account for Pulmonary Oedema are (a) increased pulmonary capillary pressure, (b) possible damages to the alveolar-capillary barrier, (iii) lymphatic obstruction.

Pulmonary Oedema could be caused by excessive intravascular volume administration, pulmonary venous outflow obstruction, and or failure of the left atrial myxoma. Such patients develop acute breathlessness, anxiety and marked confusion.

In the case of the patient discussed in this paper, the conditions suggest the existence of Cardiogenic Pulmonary Edema, the effect of which could lead to congestive heart failure (CHS), or severe arrhythmias, or heart attack with left ventricular failure, and or can lead to crisis arising out of fluid overload resulting in kidney failure or a hypertensive crisis (Mehta, S & Nava, 2005, Cotter et al, 2008).

Congestive Heart failure (CHF)

CHF refers to a syndrome wherein there is an inability seen in the heart to pump sufficient quantity of oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body. Patients likely to be subjected to it suffer from shortness of breath, pulmonary oedema and it can result among other things in liver congestion.

From a pathophysiology point of view, when CHF occurs and drop in cardiac output, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) gets stimulated. This results in increased heart rate and force of contraction, in addition to increased preload of left end diastolic pressure and vascular resistance. Vasoconstriction also occurs.

The kidneys try to compensate for the initial decrease in cardiac output by decreasing the renal perfusion and activating the rennin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system (RAAS).

However, in either acute or chronic heart failure such initial compensatory mechanisms ultimately prove counterproductive. Once either the left or right ventricle loses its ability to handle the increase preload, there is a back up of fluid. In the case of left ventricle, the accumulation of the fluid reaches the pulmonary bed which is responsible for the causing of shortness of breath, dyspnea on exertion and result in pulmonary oedema. On the other hand, when the involved part is right ventricle, the fluid has a tendency to get into the systemic circulation and produces such symptoms as elevated central venous pressure, (CVP), hepatomegaly, anorexia, edema etc (Hunt et al, 2009).

2.2. Tests

2.2.1. Electrocardiogram

Electrocardiogram (ECG) is one of non-invasive tests conducted to identify underlying heart problems. It is used to diagnose heart diseases and provides measurements indicating how well the heart is pumping, especially the left ventricle ejection fraction , ILVEF), changes in the structure of heart post to a heart failure, and also to indicate the type and severity of heart failure that could have occurred (Hess & Carroll, 2007, Rich & McLaughlin, 2001).

Wherever the physician suspects irregular spacing of heartbeats deviating from the normal rate ranging between 60 and 150 beats a minute, they can order for the conduct of electrocardiogram test. In such cases, it can act as a principal tool for the diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmias. In addition, it also provides valuable information to the physician on the state of the heart muscle arising out certain alterations in the electrocardiographic complexes, in particular the QRS-T part. Nonetheless, the interpretation of results assume a critical significance for the reason a normal ECG can show up in patients with serious heart problems while at the same time showing up of abnormal electrocardiogram in itself need automatically indicate the existence of serious heart disease. However, this does not dispense away the utility of this tool for preliminary investigation in the assessment of the patient with suspected heart failure for the reason if the ECG is totally normal, it is reasonable for the physician to arrive at a conclusion that a patient is unlikely to have a heart failure (Hurst JW, 2005).

2.2.2. Chest X-rayagnosis

Chest radiology can provide additionally useful information particularly in regard to the presence or absence of cardiomegaly (Fonseca et al, 2004). It can also throw light on the existence of pulmonary congestion. Besides, it can provide clues to the causes of breathlessness as for instance as to whether it is due to the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or consolidation. Its limitation consists in the fact that its quality cannot be assured in older patients, especially those in whom chest wall abnormalities are found.

2.2.3. Medication

Frusemide (iv)

It is a life saving drug, shorter diuretics, when administered intravenous acts in minutes and is effective for six hours. It is given to eliminate Pulmonary Oedema.

Digoxin (Oral)

It is a cardiac glucoside where there is a likelihood of heart failure.

Enoxaparin (sc)

It is anticoagulant and when given subcutaneous aims at handling deficiency of coronary blood circulation. When the dynamic circulation of blood gets altered, it results in stasis of fluid. This can result in the springing of blood clots. When administered subcutaneous, it helps in the prevention of fibrous clot formation and or alters the traveling of such clots.

Enalapril (oral)

It is an Angiotensin inhibitor and is given for the control of hypertension. It works on the kidney and prevents the conversion of Angiotensin 1 to Angiotensin 2.

When considered from the situation and experience of this nursing professional, the patient has been given the right kind of treatment and the tests asked for appear to be relevant. This can also be said about the medication, but for the following observations. Large doses of Frusemide can result in the depletion of potassium and hence there is a need for giving potassium supplement. There is no information whether this was done. Enalpril is now-a-days is replaced by Telemasarta. There is no reason given as to diltiazem was stopped. There is also no information on the dosages and no explicit information on the seriousness of the condition of the patient. This can only be inferred and points towards the fact that at the time of admission the patient condition was serious.



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