When we give a nebulizer treatment to a patient, what exactly are we giving that patient? The obvious answer is that we are giving a bronchodilator treatment. But what else?
The not so obvious answer is that we are giving oxygen therapy if nebulization is occurring with oxygen. Oxygen is an excellent pulmonary vasodilator. Keeping that in mind, we also must remember the power of the placebo effects. Finally, but the often overlooked but certainly not least important is the power of compassion and tender loving care.
During the middle of the night, when a patient is respiratory distressed, he is at the lowest point in his life. He is short of breath; he has already endured all that life has dealt him over the last decades of his life, but now, he is "dying" with no one beside him to watch over him. The person who responded to the call bell is busy getting a respiratory therapist. It is vital as a respiratory therapist and any other student of medicine that we are not there to hear the patient's problems and come up with a list of differential diagnoses and treat appropriately, but rather first and foremost, to provide compassion and care.
We are there to sit and listen, this listening session is just as therapeutic as the "tangible" and document-able treatment, and some days it is of the utmost importance.
It is time to change our behavior. If a patient calls, we should be there immediately, the minutes spent at the patient bedside is just as accountable as therapeutic time. Hopefully, it becomes mandatory practice with HCAHPS (hospital consumer assessment of healthcare providers and systems).
In the end, it is not the pharmacologic therapy but the person in the room that offers the most relief to the patient's chief complaint.