8 Liver Cirrhosis Nursing Care Plans


Liver cirrhosis, also known as hepatic cirrhosis, is a chronic hepatic disease characterized by diffuse destruction and fibrotic regeneration of hepatic cells. As necrotic tissues yields to fibrosis, the diseases alters the liver structure and normal vasculature, impairs blood and lymph flow, and ultimately causing hepatic insufficiency. Causes include malnutrition, inflammation (bacterial or viral), and poisons (e.g., alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, acetaminophen). Cirrhosis is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States among people ages 35 to 55 and represents a serious threat to long-term health.

These are the clinical types of cirrhosis:

  • Laennec’s cirrhosis is the most common type and occurs 30% to 50% of cirrhotic patients. Up to 90% of whom have a history of alcoholism. Liver damage results from malnutrition, especially of dietary protein, and chronic alcohol ingestion. Fibrous tissue forms in portal areas and around central veins.
  • Biliary cirrhosis occurs in 15% to 20% of patients, and results from injury or prolonged obstruction.
  • Postnecrotic cirrhosis stems from various types of hepatitis.
  • Pigment cirrhosis results from disorders such as hemochromatosis.
  • Idiopathic cirrhosis, has no known cause.
  • Noncirrhotic fibrosis may results from schistosomiasis or congenital hepatic fibrosis or may be idiopathic.

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing care planning for patients with liver cirrhosis includes promoting rest, providing adequate nutrition, skin care, reducing risk for injury, and monitoring and managing complications.

Here are eight (8) nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnosis for patients with liver cirrhosis:

  1. Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements
  2. Excess Fluid Volume
  3. Risk for Impaired Skin Integrity
  4. Ineffective Breathing Pattern
  5. Risk for Injury
  6. Risk for Acute Confusion
  7. Disturbed Body Image
  8. Deficient Knowledge
  9. Other Possible Nursing Care Plans

Deficient Knowledge

Nursing Diagnosis

May be related to

  • Lack of exposure/recall; information misinterpretation
  • Unfamiliarity with information resources

Possibly evidenced by

  • Questions; request for information, statement of misconception
  • Inaccurate follow-through of instructions/development of preventable complications

Desired Outcomes

  • Verbalize understanding of disease process/prognosis, potential complications.
  • Correlate symptoms with causative factors.
  • Identify/initiate necessary lifestyle changes and participate in care.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Review disease process and prognosis and future expectations.Provides knowledge base from which patient can make informed choices.
Refer to dietitian or nutritionist.Patients with cirrhosis needs close observation and sound nutritional counseling.
Stress importance of avoiding alcohol. Give information about community services available to aid in alcohol rehabilitation if indicated.Alcohol is the leading cause in the development of cirrhosis.
Inform patient of altered effects of medications with cirrhosis and the importance of using only drugs prescribed or cleared by a healthcare provider who is familiar with patient’s history.Some drugs are hepatotoxic (especially narcotics, sedatives, and hypnotics). In addition, the damaged liver has a decreased ability to metabolize all drugs, potentiating cumulative effect and/or aggravation of bleeding tendencies.
Review procedure for maintaining function of peritoneovenous shunt when present.Insertion of a Denver shunt requires patient to periodically pump the chamber to maintain patency of the device. Patients with a LeVeen shunt may wear an abdominal binder and/or engage in a Valsalva maneuver to maintain shunt function.
Assist patient identifying support person(s).Because of length of recovery, potential for relapses, and slow convalescence, support systems are extremely important in maintaining behavior modifications.
Emphasize the importance of good nutrition. Recommend avoidance of high-protein/salty foods, onions, and strong cheeses. Provide written dietary instructions.Proper dietary maintenance and avoidance of foods high in sodium and protein aid in remission of symptoms and help prevent ammonia buildup and further liver damage. Written instructions are helpful for patient to refer to at home.
Stress necessity of follow-up care and adherence to therapeutic regimen.Chronic nature of disease has potential for life-threatening complications. Provides opportunity for evaluation of effectiveness of regimen, including patency of shunt if used.
Discuss sodium and salt substitute restrictions and necessity of reading labels on food and OTC drugs.Minimizes ascites and edema formation. Overuse of substitutes may result in other electrolyte imbalances. Food, OTC and/or personal care products (antacids, some mouthwashes) may contain sodium or alcohol.
Encourage scheduling activities with adequate rest periods.Adequate rest decreases metabolic demands on the body and increases energy available for tissue regeneration.
Promote diversional activities that are enjoyable to patient.Prevents boredom and minimizes anxiety and depression.
Recommend avoidance of persons with infections, especially URI.Decreased resistance, altered nutritional status, and immune response (leukopenia may occur with splenomegaly) potentiate risk of infection.
Identify environmental dangers: exposure to hepatitis.Can precipitate recurrence.
Instruct patient/SO of signs and symptoms that warrant notification of health care provider: increased abdominal girth; rapid weight loss/gain; increased peripheral edema; increased dyspnea, fever; blood in stool or urine; excess bleeding of any kind; jaundice.Prompt reporting of symptoms reduces risk of further hepatic damage and provides opportunity to treat complications before they become life-threatening.
Instruct SO to notify health care providers of any confusion, untidiness, night wandering, tremors, or personality change.Changes (reflecting deterioration) may be more apparent to SO, although insidious changes may be noted by others with less frequent contact with patient.

Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

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See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

More nursing care plans related to gastrointestinal disorders:

Matt Vera is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2009 and is currently working as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs. During his time as a student, he knows how frustrating it is to cram on difficult nursing topics. Finding help online is nearly impossible. His situation drove his passion for helping student nurses by creating content and lectures that are easy to digest. Knowing how valuable nurses are in delivering quality healthcare but limited in number, he wants to educate and inspire nursing students. As a nurse educator since 2010, his goal in Nurseslabs is to simplify the learning process, break down complicated topics, help motivate learners, and look for unique ways of assisting students in mastering core nursing concepts effectively.
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