One of the greatest complexities of modern medicine is what to do for the patient who has no fathomable medical ailment and thus no need to be in the Emergency Room or clinic. Likewise, the patient presents with complaint he or she should have stayed home with.
Perhaps it's a child or an adult with a stuffy nose which presents as a common head cold, where there really is nothing we can do for them. To prevent the risk of the patient, or guardian of child, or family members, or lawyers, asking inexplicable questions, it is recommended that said physician (typically the emergency department doctor) order a breathing treatment with 0.5cc Ventolin.
While this therapy has no "perceived" benefit to the patient, it will make the patient (or family members) feel as though you are doing something as they can actually SEE the breathing treatment, hold it in their hands, caress it, watch the mist flow through the air for some time. This treatment regimen may be best demonstrated by some an example.
Example: A patient presents with runny nose, congested cough, maybe mild shortness of breath you attributable to nasal congestion, clear lungs with good air movement and no history of respiratory ailments such as asthma.
You know there is nothing we can do for the common cold, so we order a breathing treatment so the patient thinks we're doing something useful, and then we discharge the patient. It is your discretion whether you want to sent patient home with a Ventolin inhaler.
Now, say for example the nurse comes to you and says, "The mom thought the breathing treatment worked quite well, and was wondering if she could get these treatments for home." You say, "Well, the only reason I gave the treatment was so she thinks we're doing something."
A nurse is in the same boat as you and I, and she'll understand completely. But do not EVER let a respiratory therapist hear you say this.
The following are chief complaints this applies to:
- Common cold