3. Monitor vital signs every 15 minutes
When clients are receiving epidural analgesia, monitoring occurs as often as every 15 minutes, including assessment of respiratory rate, respiratory effort, and skin color. Complications of epidural opioid use include nausea and vomiting, urinary retention, constipation, respiratory depression, and pruritus. A common complication of epidural anesthesia is hypotension. Assessing vital signs is the priority nursing intervention. Because of the catheter location, strict surgical asepsis is needed to prevent a serious and potentially fatal infection. To reduce the risk for accidental epidural injection of drugs intended for IV use, the catheter should be clearly labeled "epidural catheter." Supplemental doses of opioids or sedative/hypnotics are avoided because of possible additive central nervous system adverse effects.