Pulmonary contusion, known as the most common potentially lethal chest injury seen in this country, necessitates aggressive nursing assessment and diagnosis if treatment is to be effective and prognosis improved. Initial chest x-rays will usually not display the severity of the contusion. The nurse maintains a high index of suspicion for pulmonary contusion when assessing chest trauma patients. By monitoring ventilatory parameters to assess oxygenation, the nurse acknowledges that hypoxemia is the hallmark clinical sign. Through comprehension of the different mechanisms of injury, the role of chest compliance, and the pathologic alterations, the critical care nurse delivers skillful and knowledgeable care to the patient with a pulmonary contusion.

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