8+ Pancreatitis Nursing Care Plans

Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas (the large gland behind the stomach and next to the small intestine) becomes inflamed. It is the painful inflammatory condition in which the enzymes of the pancreas are prematurely activated resulting in autodigestion of the pancreas. The common cause of pancreatitis are biliary tract disease and alcoholism, but can also result from such things as abnormal organ structure, blunt trauma, penetrating peptic ulcers, and drugs such as sulfonamides and glucocorticoids.

Pancreatitis may be acute or chronic, with symptoms mild to severe.

  • Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation that lasts for a short time. It may range from mild discomfort to a severe, life-threatening illness.
  • Chronic pancreatitis is long-lasting inflammation of the pancreas. It most often happens after an episode of acute pancreatitis.

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing care management of patients with pancreatitis includes relief of pain and discomfort caused by pancreatitis, improvement of nutritional status, improving respiratory function, and improvement of fluid and electrolyte status.

Here are eight (8) nursing care plans for patients with pancreatitis:

  1. Acute Pain
  2. Risk for Deficient Fluid Volume
  3. Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements
  4. Risk for Infection
  5. Deficient Knowledge
  6. Acute Pain
  7. Risk for Imbalanced Fluid Volume
  8. Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements
  9. Other Nursing Care Plans
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Acute Pain


Acute Pain: Unpleasant sensory and emotional experience arising from actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage; sudden or slow onset of any intensity from mild to severe with anticipated or predictable end and a duration of <6 months.

May be related to

  • Obstruction of pancreatic, biliary ducts
  • Chemical contamination of peritoneal surfaces by pancreatic exudate/autodigestion of pancreas
  • Extension of inflammation to the retroperitoneal nerve plexus

Possibly evidenced by

  • Reports of pain
  • Self-focusing, grimacing, distraction/guarding behaviors
  • Autonomic responses, alteration in muscle tone

Desired Outcomes

  • Report pain is relieved/controlled.
  • Follow prescribed therapeutic regimen.
  • Demonstrate use of methods that provide relief.
Nursing Interventions Rationale
Investigate verbal reports of pain, noting specific location and intensity (0–10 scale). Note factors that aggravate and relieve pain. Pain is often diffuse, severe, and unrelenting in acute or hemorrhagic pancreatitis. Severe pain is often the major symptom in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Isolated pain in the RUQ reflects involvement of the head of the pancreas. Pain in the left upper quadrant (LUQ) suggests involvement of the pancreatic tail. Localized pain may indicate development of pseudocysts or abscesses.
Maintain bedrest during acute attack. Provide quiet, restful environment. Decreases metabolic rate and GI stimulation and secretions, thereby reducing pancreatic activity.
Promote position of comfort on one side with knees flexed, sitting up and leaning forward. Reduces abdominal pressure and tension, providing some measure of comfort and pain relief. Note: Supine position often increases pain.
Provide alternative comfort measures (back rub), encourage relaxation techniques (guided imagery, visualization), quiet diversional activities (TV, radio). Promotes relaxation and enables patient to refocus attention; may enhance coping.
Keep environment free of food odors. Sensory stimulation can activate pancreatic enzymes, increasing pain.
Administer analgesics in timely manner (smaller, more frequent doses). Severe and prolonged pain can aggravate shock and is more difficult to relieve, requiring larger doses of medication, which can mask underlying problems and complications and may contribute to respiratory depression.
Maintain meticulous skin care, especially in presence of draining abdominal wall fistulas. Pancreatic enzymes can digest the skin and tissues of the abdominal wall, creating a chemical burn.
Administer medication as indicated:
Meperidine is usually effective in relieving pain and may be preferred over morphine, which can have a side effect of biliary-pancreatic spasms. Paravertebral block has been used to achieve prolonged pain control. Note:Pain in patients whohave recurrent or chronic pancreatitis episodes may be difficult to manage because they may become dependent on the narcotics given for pain control.
Potentiates action of narcotic to promote rest and to reduce muscular and ductal spasm, thereby reducing metabolic needs, enzyme secretions.
  • Antacids: Mylanta, Maalox, Amphojel, Riopan;
Neutralizes gastric acid to reduce production of pancreatic enzymes and to reduce incidence of upper GI bleeding.
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid)
Decreasing secretion of HCl reduces stimulation of the pancreas and associated pain.
Withhold food and fluid as indicated. Limits and reduces release of pancreatic enzymes and resultant pain.
Maintain gastric suction when used. Prevents accumulation of gastric secretions, which can stimulate pancreatic enzyme activity.
Prepare for surgical intervention if indicated. Surgical exploration may be required in presence of intractable pain and complications involving the biliary tract, such as pancreatic abscess or pseudocyst.
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See Also


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Gastrointestinal Care Plans


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