Goal Statement

At the heart of the care plan is a goal statement that specifies an expected outcome of the health care team's intervention with the patient. Think of a goal statement as what you want to happen to the patient. For example, a typical goal is that a patient will report a reduction in pain from 8 to 4 on a scale of 0 to 10 in three hours.

A goal statement is a nursing order that must be patient centered and specify a desired behavior to occur at a specified time. The behavior must be observable and measurable and the goal statement must specify criteria for measuring the behavior.

Ideally, both the nurse and the patient develop and accept the goal. If the patient's decision-making ability is impaired, then the patient's family or another support person becomes the patient's advocate in the planning process. It is critical that the patient adopts the goal statement; otherwise, the goal might not be achieved. For example, if the patient doesn't believe in taking pain medication, then a goal of reducing pain by taking analgesics will not be met. The nurse will then have to explore alternatives to pain medication such as a massage or imagery. The care plan should be shared with the patient's family, the healthcare team and others who are caring for the patient so that everyone is working toward the same goals.

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