Nurses: Are You Environmental Health Stewards?

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS

Disclosures

August 05, 2014

Environmental Health Assessment

Considering how pervasive environmental exposures are, and their direct impact on health and disease, it is surprising that environmental factors are frequently overlooked in routine patient assessment.[3] Failing to ask patients about environmental exposures is a missed opportunity for prevention.[3]

The most fundamental way to integrate environmental health into nursing practice in any setting is to incorporate questions about environmental exposures when taking a patient's history. ANHE provides a list of available environmental health assessment tools, for general (individuals or communities) and specific (pediatric and prenatal) populations. Some, such as the Environmental Assessment Form, are designed to be completed by patients. An exposure history form can be used if a detailed and comprehensive environmental exposure profile is necessary.

Not only will an environmental health assessment help the nurse identify potential areas for intervention, but the act of asking and answering questions about environmental exposures will raise the patient's awareness about environmental health risks that might have been unheeded. This will naturally open the door to discussions with the nurse about how to minimize those risks.

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