What Kinds of Equipment Do Registered Nurses Use?

Knowing how to correctly use your equipment is an important part of being a safe nurse.
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Because nurses work in so many different specialties and do such varying tasks during their day, there is no one list of equipment that every nurse uses. However, there are similar groupings of equipment that most nurses use on a daily basis, depending on their responsibility level and the kind of facility in which they work.

The Basics

    Most nurses in direct patient-care jobs in inpatient facilities -- whether in acute care in the hospital or subacute care in a nursing home or other long-term-care facility -- have a similar set of tools. These tools include a stethoscope, black pen, watch with a second hand, penlight, bandage scissors and hemostat. Most of these items are personally owned. Nurses are becoming more aware about proper cleaning to prevent this personal equipment from contributing to cross-contamination from patient to patient.

Portable Diagnostic Equipment

    Many nurses use portable diagnostic and assessment equipment every shift. If you are working at the bedside you might use a portable glucometer. You might also use a portable pulse oximeter (either a fingertip device, powered by batteries, or the larger rolling style that recharges by plugging into a wall outlet). You will probably also use a rolling vital sign kit that includes a thermometer and an automatic blood pressure monitoring cuff that also assesses heartbeat. These are sometimes equipped with pulse oximetry. You may also use a mobile electronic charting system.

In-Room Equipment

    As a nurse, especially a nurse working in a higher-acuity care setting, you will also use more complicated in-room equipment. Devices include an automated IV pump, patient-controlled analgesia pump and various wound and other drainage systems as well as more complex ventilation and blood gas monitoring equipment. In order to use some of the more complicated devices, you may need specialty training or certifications.

Specialty-Specific Equipment

    As a nurse working in a specialty area, you may also use equipment highly specific to your specialty. For example, if you are a nurse working in an outpatient asthma clinic, you might use a peak flow system many times each day. A nurse who works in public health might use a portable water collection system to test groundwater for chemical contamination or bacterial growth.

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