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1

The nurse knows that most nutrients are absorbed in which portion of the digestive tract?
1. Stomach
2. Duodenum
3. Ileum
4. Cecum

2. Duodenum

Rationale:

Most nutrients are absorbed in the duodenum with the exception of certain vitamins, iron, and salt (which are absorbed in the ileum). Food is broken down in the stomach. The cecum is the beginning of the large intestine.

2

The nurse would expect the least formed stool to be present in which portion of the digestive tract?
1. Ascending
2. Descending
3. Transverse
4. Sigmoid

1. Ascending

Rationale:

The path of digestion goes from the ascending, across the transverse, to the descending and finally passing into the sigmoid; therefore, the least formed stool would be in the ascending.

3

Which of the following is not a function of the large intestine?
1. Absorbing nutrients
2. Absorbing water
3. Secreting bicarbonate
4. Eliminating waste

1. Absorbing nutrients

Rationale:

Nutrient absorption is done in the small intestine. The other options are all functions of the large intestine.

4

The nurse is caring for a patient who is confined to the bed. The nurse asks the patient if he needs to have a bowel movement 30 minutes after eating a meal because
1. The digested food needs to make room for recently ingested food.
2. Mastication triggers the digestive system to begin peristalsis.
3. The smell of bowel elimination in the room would deter the patient from eating.
4. More ancillary staff members are available after meal times.

2. Mastication triggers the digestive system to begin peristalsis.

Rationale:

Peristalsis occurs only a few times a day; the strongest peristaltic waves are triggered by mastication of the meal. The intestine can hold a great deal of food. A patient’s voiding schedule should not be based on the staff’s convenience.

5

A nurse is assisting a patient in making dietary choices that promote healthy bowel elimination. Which menu option should the nurse recommend?
1. Grape and walnut chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat bread
2. Broccoli and cheese soup with potato bread
3. Dinner salad topped with hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and fat-free dressing
4. Turkey and mashed potatoes with brown gravy

1. Grape and walnut chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat bread

Rationale:

A healthy diet for the bowel should include foods high in bulk-forming fiber. Whole grains, fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables are excellent sources. Foods without much fiber and with high levels of fat can slow down peristalsis, causing constipation.

6

A patient informs the nurse that she was using laxatives three times daily to lose weight. After stopping use of the laxative, the patient had difficulty with constipation and wonders if she needs to take laxatives again. The nurse educates the patient that
1. Long-term laxative use causes the bowel to become less responsive to stimuli, and constipation may occur.
2. Laxatives can cause trauma to the intestinal lining and scarring may result, leading to decreased peristalsis.
3. Natural laxatives such as mineral oil are safer than chemical laxatives for relieving constipation.
4. Laxatives cause the body to become malnourished, so when the patient begins eating again, the body absorbs all of the food, and no waste products are produced.

1. Long-term laxative use causes the bowel to become less responsive to stimuli, and constipation may occur.

Rationale:

Long-term laxative use can lead to constipation. Increasing fluid and fiber intake can help with this problem. Laxatives do not cause scarring. Natural laxatives like mineral oil come with their own set of risks, such as inability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Even if malnourished, the body will produce waste if substance is consumed.

7

A patient with a hip fracture is having difficulty defecating into a bed pan while lying in bed. Which action by the nurse would assist the patient in having a successful bowel movement?
1. Administering laxatives to the patient
2. Raising the head of the bed
3. Preparing to administer a barium enema
4. Withholding narcotic pain medication

2. Raising the head of the bed

Rationale:

Lying in bed is an unnatural position; raising the head of the bed assists the patient into a more normal position that allows proper contraction of muscles for elimination. Laxatives would not give the patient control over bowel movements. A barium enema is a diagnostic test, not an intervention to promote defecation. Pain relief measures should be given; however, preventative action should be taken to prevent constipation.

8

Which patient is most at risk for increased peristalsis?
1. A 5-year-old child who ignores the urge to defecate owing to embarrassment
2. A 21-year-old patient with three final examinations on the same day
3. A 40-year-old woman with major depressive disorder
4. An 80-year-old man in an assisted-living environment

2. A 21-year-old patient with three final examinations on the same day

Rationale:

Stress can stimulate digestion and increase peristalsis. Ignoring the urge to defecate, depression, and age-related changes of the elderly are causes of constipation.

9

A patient expresses concerns over having black stool. The fecal occult test is negative. Which response by the nurse is most appropriate?
1. “This is probably a false negative; we should rerun the test.”
2. “Do you take iron supplements?”
3. “You should schedule a colonoscopy as soon as possible.”
4. “Sometimes severe stress can alter stool color.”


2. “Do you take iron supplements?”

Rationale:

Certain medications and supplements, such as iron, can alter the color of stool. The fecal occult test takes three separate samples over a period of time and is a fairly reliable test. A colonoscopy is health prevention screening that should be done every 5 to 10 years; it is not the nurse’s initial priority. Stress alters GI motility and stool consistency, not color.

10

Which physiological change can cause a paralytic ileus?
1. Chronic cathartic abuse
2. Surgery for Crohn’s disease and anesthesia
3. Suppression of hydrochloric acid from medication
4. Fecal impaction

2. Surgery for Crohn’s disease and anesthesia

Rationale:

Surgical manipulation of the bowel can cause a paralytic ileus. The other options are incorrect.

11

Fecal impactions occur in which portion of the colon?
1. Ascending
2. Descending
3. Transverse
4. Rectum

4. Rectum

Rationale:

A fecal impaction is a collection of hardened feces wedged in the rectum that cannot be expelled. It results from unrelieved constipation. Feces at this point in the colon contain the least amount of moisture. Feces found in the ascending, transverse, and descending colon still consist mostly of liquid and do not form a hardened mass.

12

The nurse provides knows that a bowel elimination schedule would be most beneficial in the plan of care for which patient?
1. A 40-year-old patient with an ileostomy
2. A 25-year-old patient with Crohn’s disease
3. A 30-year-old patient with C. difficile
4. A 70-year-old patient with stool incontinence

4. A 70-year-old patient with stool incontinence

Rationale:

A bowel elimination program is helpful for a patient with incontinence. It helps the person who still has neuromuscular control defecate normally. An ileostomy, Crohn’s disease, and C. difficile all relate to uncontrollable bowel movements, for which no method can be used to set up a schedule of elimination.

13

Which nursing intervention is most effective in promoting normal defecation for a patient who has muscle weakness in the legs that prevents ambulation?
1. Elevate the head of the bed 45 degrees 60 minutes after breakfast.
2. Use a mobility device to place the patient on a bedside commode.
3. Give the patient a pillow to brace against the abdomen while bearing down.
4. Administer a soap suds enema every 2 hours.

2. Use a mobility device to place the patient on a bedside commode.

Rationale:

The best way to promote normal defecation is to assist the patient into a posture that is as normal as possible while defecating. Using a mobility device promotes nurse and patient safety. Elevating the head of the bed would be appropriate if the patient were to void with a bed pan. However, the patient’s condition does not require use of a bed pan. Giving the patient a pillow may reduce discomfort, but this is not the best way to promote defecation. A soaps suds enema is indicated for a patient who needs assistance to stimulate peristalsis. It promotes non-natural defecation.

14

The nurse is devising a plan of care for a patient with the nursing diagnosis of Constipation related to opioid use. Which of the following outcomes would the nurse evaluate as successful for the patient to establish normal defecation?
1. The patient reports eliminating a soft, formed stool.
2. The patient has quit taking opioid pain medication.
3. The patient’s lower left quadrant is tender to the touch.
4. The nurse hears bowel sounds present in all four quadrants.

1. The patient reports eliminating a soft, formed stool.

Rationale:

The nurse’s goal is for the patient to be on opioid medication and to have normal bowel elimination. Normal stools are soft and formed. Ceasing pain medication is not a desired outcome for the patient. Tenderness in the left lower quadrant indicates constipation and does not further address bowel elimination. Present bowel sounds indicate that the bowels are moving; however, they are not an indication of defecation.

15

The nurse is emptying an ileostomy pouch for a patient. Which assessment finding would the nurse report immediately?
1. Liquid consistency of stool
2. Presence of blood in the stool
3. Noxious odor from the stool
4. Continuous output from the stoma

2. Presence of blood in the stool

Rationale:

Blood in the stool may indicate a problem with the surgical procedure, and the physician should be notified. All other options are expected findings for an ileostomy.

16

The nurse would anticipate which diagnostic examination for a patient with black tarry stools?
1. Ultrasound
2. Barium enema
3. Upper endoscopy
4. Flexible sigmoidoscopy

3. Upper endoscopy

Rationale:

Black tarry stools are an indication of ulceration or bleeding in the upper portion of the GI tract; upper endoscopy would allow visualization of the bleeding. No other option would allow upper GI visualization.

17

The nurse has attempted to administer a tap water enema for a patient with fecal impaction with no success. What is the next priority nursing action?
1. Preparing the patient for a second tap water enema
2. Donning gloves for digital removal of the stool
3. Positioning the patient on the left side
4. Inserting a rectal tube

2. Donning gloves for digital removal of the stool

Rationale:

When enemas are not successful, digital removal of the stool may be necessary occasionally to break up pieces of the stool or to stimulate the anus to defecate. Tap water enemas should not be repeated because of risk of fluid imbalance. Positioning the patient on the left side does not promote defecation. A rectal tube is indicated for a patient with liquid stool incontinence but would not be applicable or effective for this patient.

18

The nurse should question which order?
1. A normal saline enema to be repeated every 4 hours until stool is produced
2. A hypertonic solution enema with a patient with fluid volume excess
3. A Kayexalate enema for a patient with hypokalemia
4. An oil retention enema for a patient using mineral oil laxatives

3. A Kayexalate enema for a patient with hypokalemia

Rationale:

Kayexalate binds to and helps excrete potassium, so it would be contraindicated in patients who are hypokalemic (have low potassium). Normal saline enemas can be repeated without risk of fluid or electrolyte imbalance. Hypertonic solutions are intended for patients who cannot handle large fluid volume and are contraindicated for dehydrated patients. Because mineral oil laxatives and an oil retention enema have the same intended effect of lubricating the colon and rectum, an oil retention enema is not needed.

19

The nurse is preparing to perform a fecal occult blood test. The nurse plans to properly perform the examination by
1. Applying liberal amounts of stool to the guaiac paper.
2. Testing the quality control section before collecting the specimen section.
3. Reporting any abnormal findings to the provider.
4. Applying sterile disposable gloves.

3. Reporting any abnormal findings to the provider.

Rationale:

Abnormal findings such as a positive test should be reported to the provider. A fecal occult blood test is a clean procedure; sterile gloves are not needed. A thin specimen smear is all that is required. The quality control section should be developed after it is determined whether the sample is positive or negative.

20

A nurse is preparing a patient for a magnetic resonance imaging scan. Which nursing action is most important?
1. Ensuring that the patient does not eat or drink 2 hours before the examination
2. Removing all of the patient’s metallic jewelry
3. Administering a colon cleansing product 12 hours before the examination
4. Obtaining an order for a pain medication before the test is performed

2. Removing all of the patient’s metallic jewelry

Rationale:

No jewelry or metal products should be in the same room as an MRI machine because of the high-power magnet used in the machine. The patient needs to be NPO 4 to 6 hours before the examination. Colon cleansing products are not necessary for MRIs. Pain medication is not needed before the examination is performed.

21

After a patient returns from a barium swallow, the nurse’s priority is to
1. Encourage the patient to increase fluids to flush out the barium.
2. Monitor stools closely for bright red blood or mucus, which indicates trauma from the procedure.
3. Inform the patient that his bowel movements are radioactive, and that he should be sure to flush the toilet three times.
4. Thicken all patient drinks to prevent aspiration.

1. Encourage the patient to increase fluids to flush out the barium.

Rationale:

Encourage the patient to increase fluid intake to flush and remove excess barium from the body. Barium swallow is a noninvasive procedure for which no trauma would produce blood or mucus or increase aspiration risk. Barium is not a radioactive substance, so multiple flushes are not needed.

22

While a cleansing enema is administered to an 80-year-old patient, the patient expresses the urge to defecate. What is the next priority nursing action?
1. Positioning the patient in the dorsal recumbent position with a bed pan
2. Assisting the patient to the bedside commode
3. Stopping the enema cleansing and rolling the patient into right-lying Sims’ position
4. Inserting a rectal plug to contain the enema solution

1. Positioning the patient in the dorsal recumbent position with a bed pan

Rationale:

Patients with poor sphincter control may not be able to hold in all of an enema solution. Positioning the patient on a bed pan in dorsal recumbent position will allow the nurse to continue to administer the enema. Having the patient get up to toilet is unsafe because the rectal tube can damage the mucosal lining. The purpose of the enema is to promote defecation; stopping it early may inhibit its effectiveness. Use of a rectal plug to contain the solution is inappropriate.

23

A nurse is educating a patient on how to irrigate an ostomy bag. Which statement by the patient indicates the need for further instruction?
1. “I can use a fleet enema to save money because it contains the same irrigation solution.”
2. “Sitting on the toilet lets the irrigation sleeve eliminate into the bowl.”
3. “I should never attempt to reach into my stoma to remove fecal material.”
4. “Using warm tap water will reduce cramping and discomfort during the procedure.”

1. “I can use a fleet enema to save money because it contains the same irrigation solution.”

Rationale:

Enema applicators should never be used in the stoma because they can cause damage. A special coned irrigation device is used for ostomies. Irrigating a stoma into the toilet is an effective management technique. Fingers and other objects should not be placed into the stoma because they may cause trauma to the intestinal wall. Warm tap water will reduce cramping during irrigation.

24

A patient is diagnosed with a bowel obstruction. The nurse chooses which type of tube for gastric decompression?
1. Salem sump
2. Dobhoff
3. Sengstaken-Blakemore
4. Small bore

1. Salem sump

Rationale:

A bowel obstruction causes a backup into the gastric area; a nasogastric tube may be inserted to decompress secretions and gases from the gastrointestinal tract. The Salem sump has the width and functionality needed to both feed and suction, and it is ideal for a bowel obstruction. A Dobhoff tube is used for instillation of feedings. A Sengstaken-Blakemore tube is used to compress stomach contents to prevent hemorrhage. A small bore is intended for nutritional feedings only and does not have suction capacity.

25

A patient had an ileostomy surgically placed 2 days ago. Which diet would the nurse recommend to the patient to ease the transition of the new ostomy?
1. Eggs over easy, whole wheat toast, and orange juice with pulp
2. Chicken fried rice with stir fried vegetables and iced tea
3. Turkey meatloaf with white rice and apple juice
4. Fish sticks with macaroni and cheese and soda

3. Turkey meatloaf with white rice and apple juice

Rationale:

During the first week or so after ostomy placement, the patient should consume easy-to-digest low-fiber foods such as poultry, rice and noodles, and strained fruit juices. Fried foods can irritate digestion and can cause blockage. Foods high in fiber will be useful later in the recovery process but can cause blockage if the GI tract is not accustomed to digesting with an ileostomy.

26

A nurse is pouching an ostomy on a patient with an ileostomy. Which action by the nurse is most appropriate?
1. Changing the skin barrier portion of the ostomy pouch daily
2. Selecting a pouch that is able to hold excess output to reduce the frequency of pouch emptying
3. Thoroughly scrubbing the skin around the stoma to remove excess stool and adhesive
4. Measuring the correct size for the barrier device while leaving a 1/8-inch space around the stoma

2. Selecting a pouch that is able to hold excess output to reduce the frequency of pouch emptying

Rationale:

Selecting a pouch that holds a large volume of output will decrease the frequency of emptying the pouch and may ease patient anxiety about pouch overflow. The barrier device should be changed every few days unless it is leaking or is no longer effective. Peristomal skin should be gently cleansed; vigorous rubbing can cause further irritation or skin breakdown. Approximately 1/16 of an inch is present between the barrier device and the stoma. Excess space allows fecal matter to have prolonged exposure to skin, resulting in skin breakdown.

27

The nurse knows that the ideal time to change an ostomy pouch is
1. Before eating a meal, when the patient is comfortable.
2. When the patient feels that he needs to have a bowel movement.
3. When ordered in the patient’s chart.
4. After the patient has ambulated the length of the hallway.


1. Before eating a meal, when the patient is comfortable.

Rationale:

The nurse wants to change the ostomy appliance when as little output as necessary ensures a smooth procedure. Patients with ostomies do not feel the urge to defecate because the sensory portion of the anus is not stimulated. Changing the ostomy pouch is a nursing judgment decision. After a patient ambulates, stool output is increased.

28

The nurse administers a cathartic to a patient. The nurse determines that the cathartic has had a therapeutic effect when the patient
1. Has a decreased level of anxiety.
2. Experiences pain relief.
3. Has a bowel movement.
4. Passes flatulence.

3. Has a bowel movement.

Rationale:

A cathartic is a laxative that stimulates a bowel movement. It would be effective if the patient experiences a bowel movement. The other options are not outcomes of administration of a cathartic.

29

An older adult’s perineal skin appears to be dry and thin with mild excoriation. When providing hygiene after a bowel movement, the nurse should
1. Thoroughly scrub the skin with a wash cloth and hypoallergenic soap.
2. Apply a skin protective lotion after perineal care.
3. Tape an occlusive moisture barrier pad to the patient’s skin.
4. Massage the skin with deep kneading pressure.

2. Apply a skin protective lotion after perineal care.

Rationale:

Proper skin care and perineal cleaning require that the nurse gently clean the skin and apply a moistening barrier cream. Tape and occlusive dressings can damage skin. Excessive pressure and force are inappropriate and may cause skin breakdown.

30

Which nursing action best reduces risk of excoriation to the mucosal lining of the nose from a nasogastric tube?
1. Lubricating the nares with water-soluble lubricant
2. Applying a small ice bag to the nose for 5 minutes every 4 hours
3. Instilling Xylocaine into the nares once a shift
4. Changing the tape holding the tube in place once a shift

1. Lubricating the nares with water-soluble lubricant

Rationale:

The tube constantly irritates the nasal mucosa, increasing the risk of excoriation. Frequent lubrication with a water-soluble lubricant decreases the likelihood of excoriation. Ice is not applied to the nose. Ice may be applied externally to the throat if the patient reports a sore throat. Xylocaine requires a physician order and is used to treat sore throat, not nasal mucosal excoriation. Changing the tape should be done daily, not every shift.