Shock – Be Prepared

Although the traditional hallmark of shock is hypotension¬†(where the systolic blood pressure is less than 90 mmHg) this can be a late or misleading sign and is considered a medical emergency. It is therefore critical that other signs and symptoms are identified early by frequent observations to detect a patient’s deteriorating state and respond before irreversible shock ensues. Knowledge of the different states of shock is important for nurses as they play a key role in promoting early detection and treatment of shock that can impact patient outcomes. Awareness of updates in evidence-based practice pertaining to shock management is important in the prevention of clinical states such as infection that can lead to conditions such as sepsis and septic shock. Such knowledge can help the HCP promote care that is based on the latest guidelines for care.

The main types of shock include:
  • Cardiogenic shock (due to heart problems)
  • Hypovolemic shock (caused by too little blood volume)
  • Anaphylactic shock (caused by allergic reaction)
  • Septic shock (due to infections)
  • Neurogenic shock (caused by damage to the nervous system)
The three stages of shock include:
  • Stage I – compensated or nonprogressive
  • Stage II – decompensated or progressive
  • Stage III – irreversible
Initial treatment of shock:
  • Call 911
  • Lay the person down, if possible
  • Elevate the person’s feet about 12″ (unless you suspect head, neck, back, or leg injury)
  • Do NOT raise the person’s head
  • Turn the person on their side if there is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth
  • Begin CPR, if necessary
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