Ideas That Work: Eat, Drink and Be Wary


Get True NPO Confessions From Patients

patients having fluids WATER LOG We find out right away if patients have had fluids since midnight.

Eat, Drink and Be Wary
Get True NPO Confessions From Patients

To download a copy of the
patient NPO questionnaire, go to

We've had patients swear up and down that they haven't had anything to eat or drink since midnight. And then, after the vomiting starts, they reluctantly confess that they drank some chai tea that morning. And then there are the patients who walk into the building holding a bottle of water or Gatorade. Hopefully, the people at the front desk notice, but there's no guarantee.

It was enough of an issue for us that we didn't want to take the risk anymore. And part of the problem was that by the time we got around to asking patients whether they'd had anything to eat or drink, we'd already spent half an hour getting them changed and onto stretchers. By that time, a lot of patients didn't want to admit that they'd been wasting our time.

The solution was to create an NPO questionnaire that we give patients as soon as they arrive at the center. The questions are simple, and include: "I last ate food at __ am/pm" and "I last drank any fluids at __ am/pm." We also have them sign the questionnaire. The advantages are twofold: We get the information before we waste time getting them ready for surgery, and we make them responsible and accountable if they're dishonest and problems arise.

Anna Trzcinski, RN
SurgiCare of Boca
Boca Raton, Fla.
[email protected]

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