Abdominal Assessment I for the Correctional Nurse

2.0 Continuing Education Hours

Abdominal pain is perhaps one of the most frequent complaints listed on a sick call/request to be seen slip in the correctional environment. Changes to routine and diet, stress, and the “unmasking” of symptoms as patients become “detoxed” from substances like alcohol and drugs may contribute to complaints of abdominal problems. It is important that the correctional nurse understand the pathophysiology of the abdomen, and how to conduct a proper assessment of the abdominal areas. As with all presenting complaints, it is vital that a succinct, yet thorough history be obtained from the patient to include any health problems they were experiencing in the past or prior to their incarceration.

This class is the first of a three-part series on Abdominal Assessment for the Correctional Nurse. This first class will include the areas of the abdomen, the basic abdominal assessment, expected normal findings and potential abnormalities in each area. The second and third class will review abdominal assessment techniques, and will discuss in more detail the evaluation and nursing interventions for the patient with symptoms of nausea and vomiting, and constipation and diarrhea.