3 types of priority questions

The most common and also one of the most difficult situations during a nursing intervention is setting priority. The priority questions can check if the nurse knows the order of any nursing intervention or if she knows the urgency of intervention for any nursing action. Here is the fundamental quick tips for you: You shouldn’t try to answer the question based on what you think is a priority but what the client or his or her situation is a priority.

You can prioritize the actions in 3 ways:

  1. Situations that need most/urgent priority
  2. Situations that need immediate priority
  3. Situations that need the least priority

Situations that need most or urgent priorities.

These are often the situations that demand immediate intervention that would otherwise harm the patient or would be life-threatening if not followed otherwise.

Suppose, a patient with seizure is expelling mucous out of his mouth and has tongue folded backwards. Your priority is not to call a health care provider or check BP but to clear out the nasal path or throat for easy breathing.

Often for questions of the urgent priorities, one of your options could be ‘call the health care provider’. If you do not see any nursing intervention that can save life of the patient or if the situation is too difficult to be handled by nursing intervention alone, remember, your answer would be the statement mentioning the nurse to call the health care provider.

Situations that need intermediate priority

NClex often wants to test your knowledge and your skills to intervene in the situation.

In this class of nursing priority, the patient or the patient’s situation needs some care or priority given, it’s is not a life threatening or urgent case and can be delayed if other immediate or urgent action is to be taken. You can read from the question alone if the situation is urgent or not or from the options if the tasks can be done by the nurse alone.

Your option in such case cannot be ‘call the health care provider’ if there are other options which the nurse can handle to ease the situation.

Example: checking vital signs of the patient is of intermediate priority than giving CPR if the patient stops breathing.

Situations that need the least priority

Situations that is not directly linked to patient’s care or which are not life threatening or which can be delayed if other high risk tasks are to be done falls in this category. If the action is not directly related to easing of the disease, it is of low priority care.

For example, Turning the position of the patient to stop formation of sore requires lesser priority than the high priority actions such as checking vital signs if any such situational priority is there. So, turning patient is of intermediate priority care.

If a nurse is assigned multiple jobs or clients in emergencies, she has to take care of the time, resources and the order of priority care that should be given. So, prioritizing care also demands to see the resources available in the facility and the time available.

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