My unit has both "medical" and "surgical" areas but we call it a med-surg unit and the difference between the two is purely academic in this case and doesn't really affect how we work on the floor. Regardless of where we are on the floor, the medical wing or the surgical wing, the cases are very similar.
The Medical-Surgical units in hospitals are often combined, making it difficult to know the difference. The care that is given to the patient is very much the same. The difference is the additional post-operative care of the surgical patient, in addition to the ongoing medical care.
Surgical nursing is caring for a patient who has had surgery. Medical nursing is caring for a patient who is ill but will not receive surgical intervention. Think of medical nursing as nursing that doesn't fall into any other category. Hope that helps.
Medical Nursing = Surg take care of post op (hips, gallbladder, crushed limb) or medical
Surgical Nursing = Its limited to bringing a pt into a surgical area, ensuring all preop needs have been met, prep pt body area.
I never thought about having to define the difference between medical and surgical patients. Its true a medical patient could have incidental surgery, such as a cholecystectomy or appendectomy and a surgical patient could have an incidental illlness, such as pneumonia, hypertension or diabetes. Especially in older patients, there is seldom a pure diagnosis.
In general, a person admitted to the hospital for surgery, comes in the day of surgery, is as healthy as possible under the circumstances and is discharged as soon as he is stable and all systems are functioning normally. A surgical patient has had the integrity of his skin compromised so he requires a cleaner environment, vigorous attention to pulmonary hygiene and encouragement to be active.
A medical patient is admitted because he is acutely ill - anytime of the day or night. His immune system could be compromised and he could be contageous to other ill people. He requires rest, proper nutrition and support for what ever the illness happens to be. He will probably be receiving a lot of medications, blood tests and radiological exams. His environment is clean but usually littered with patient aids such as tissues, urinals, etc. A medical patient is discharged when he is well or stable with the illness.
Medical patients still need good pulmonary hygiene and encouragement to be as active as possible but the rules are different. You work around his illness.
Nurses who have completed an LPN program at an appropriately accredited institution are in demand more and more these days. Medical establishments are almost universally short-handed and the need for more nurses is greater and greater every day. With the Big Three killers (heart disease, cancer, and stroke) all on the rise, hospitals are overrun and understaffed.
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