[ANSWERED 2023] Describe the difference between a nursing practice problem and a medical practice problem

Describe the difference between a nursing practice problem and a medical practice problem. Provide one example of each.

PICOT is utilized by the health care community to identify and study a nursing or medical practice problem. Consequently, PICOT examples that may provide insight into the use of the PICOT process, may not be relevant to nursing practice as they are based on a medical practice problem.

Describe the difference between a nursing practice problem and a medical practice problem. Provide one example of each. Discuss why is it important to ensure your PICOT is based on a nursing practice problem.


Nursing vs. Medical Practice Problem

Nursing practice problem assesses

Whereas a nursing practice problem is identified during the nursing assessments conducted on a patient’s condition, medical practice problem is one which focuses on the pathology of the patient. Specifically, a nursing practice problem assesses the human response to the health conditions (Milner & Cosme, 2017).

For example, when a patient presents to the facility with headaches, fever, and other physical symptoms, a triage nurse could identify the condition as a nursing practice problem, where they offer the patient the relevant nursing diagnosis. On the other hand, when a patient is seen to have a condition which requires his pathology to be assessed and the healthcare giver recognizes that it could be stroke, then this is a medical practice problem.

Why PICOT should be based on Nursing Practice Problem

A PICOT seeks to address various elements of nursing care, and hence it should be primarily based on a nursing practice problem and not on a medical practice problem. In the nursing practice problem, the care needs of the patient from the time they get out of the healthcare environment to the time they are diagnosed by the doctor to the after-care periods are addressed (Meyer, 2017).

Also, in the nursing practice problem, there is collection of information about the patient, and this helps to draw relevant conclusions based on the PICOT questions. This way, it is easy to collect diverse data about the patient and their condition. Also, with the nursing practice problem, it is more likely that the PICOT will improve population health.


Meyer, M. N. (2017). Evidence-Based Practice: Success of Practice Change Depends on the Question. Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing: Foundations, Skills, and Roles.

Milner, K. A., & Cosme, S. (2017). The PICO Game: An Innovative Strategy for Teaching Step 1 in Evidence‐Based Practice. Worldviews on Evidence‐Based Nursing14(6), 514-516.

Describe the difference between a nursing practice

Alternative Expert Answer

How Nursing and Medical Practice Problems differ

Medical and Nursing Practice ProblemThere is a difference between a nursing and a medical practice problem. The former is a clinical issue that a provider identifies and notes when assessing the patient, and it constitutes one physiological health, and the emotional and psychological responses linked to the patient’s physical health.

An example is a patient with hypertension and diabetes developing stress because of their health. In this case, a nurse would want to know all these details about the patient including the manner in which they respond to the disease.

One can also look at this particular problem as one which can be addressed through patient education, counseling and health promotion (Cook et al., 2018). Conversely, the latter is about the medical condition or the pathology of a medical disorder in which the provider determines the patient’s disorder.  If a provider measures the body’s insulin and manages to determine that body’s insulin level is low, they can conclude that the condition is type 1 diabetes (Yoo et al., 2019).

Basing PICOT on the Nursing Practice Problem

When preparing a PICOT, it is important to base it on the nursing practice problem (NPP). This is because the NPP addresses majority of the elements of the nursing care. Some of these elements include the diagnosis information, patient care goals, screening of the risks, and the outcomes. The PICOT also addresses all these elements considering that it focuses on the patient, their health, the intervention that can help promote recovery compared to another treatment, and results of the treatment. It equally focuses on the clinical outcomes (Ho et al., 2016). Given that the PICOT addresses all the elements of the nursing problem, it make sense to base PICOT on the NPP.


Cook, D.A., Pencille, L.J., Dupras, D.M., Linderbaum, J.A., Pankratz, V.S.,  & Wilkinson, J.M. (2018). Practice variation and practice guidelines: Attitudes of generalist and specialist physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. PLoS ONE 13(1), e0191943. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191943.

Ho, G.J., Liew, S.M., Ng, C.J., Hisham Shunmugam, R., & Glasziou P (2016). Development of a Search Strategy for an Evidence Based Retrieval Service. PLoS ONE 11(12), e0167170. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0167170.

Yoo, J.Y., Kim, J.H., Kim, J.S., Kim, H.L., Ki, J.S. (2019). Clinical nurses’ beliefs, knowledge, organizational readiness and level of implementation of evidence-based practice: The first step to creating an evidence-based practice culture. PLoS ONE 14(12): e0226742. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226742.

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What is the difference between a nursing problem and a medical problem?

In the world of healthcare, it’s crucial to understand the fundamental differences between nursing problems and medical problems. While both are essential aspects of patient care, they serve distinct purposes and require different approaches. This article will delve into the nuances that set nursing practice problems apart from medical practice problems, providing clarity on this critical subject.

Nursing Practice Problem vs. Medical Practice Problem

Defining Nursing Practice Problems

Nursing practice problems, often referred to as nursing diagnoses, are specific issues that nurses identify and address within their scope of practice. These problems are focused on the patient’s response to an illness, a medical condition, or a life situation. Nursing practice problems aim to enhance the quality of care, improve patient outcomes, and promote patient safety.

Defining Medical Practice ProblemsMedical practice problems, on the other hand, are concerns that fall within the domain of medical practitioners, such as doctors and specialists. These problems pertain to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and medical conditions. Medical practice problems are essential for determining the most effective medical interventions and therapies.

Key Differences

Several key differences distinguish nursing problems from medical problems:

  1. Scope of Practice: Nursing problems are within the scope of nursing practice, while medical problems are within the scope of medical practice.
  2. Focus: Nursing problems focus on the patient’s response and well-being, whereas medical problems primarily concern the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
  3. Interventions: Nurses address nursing problems through nursing interventions, while doctors address medical problems through medical interventions.
  4. Holistic Approach: Nursing problems often involve a holistic approach that considers the patient’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being, in addition to their physical health. Medical problems typically concentrate on the physical aspects of health.

Overlapping ScenariosIn healthcare, there are situations where nursing and medical problems intersect. This occurs when the patient’s condition necessitates collaboration between nursing and medical professionals. For example, in the case of a diabetic patient, nurses may address the patient’s emotional response to the diagnosis (a nursing problem) while doctors manage the medical aspects of the disease (a medical problem).

This overlap highlights the importance of effective teamwork and communication among healthcare professionals.

Impact on Patient Care

The distinction between nursing and medical problems significantly impacts patient care. It ensures that each aspect of a patient’s condition is addressed effectively. Nurses provide essential emotional and psychological support, while doctors diagnose and treat the medical condition. This collaborative approach enhances the overall quality of care.

Identifying Nursing Practice Problems

Nurses use specific criteria to recognize nursing problems. For example, they assess the patient’s response to illness, analyze data, and consider the patient’s history and current condition. Case studies and examples can help illustrate these concepts.

Identifying Medical Practice Problems

Medical professionals, including doctors, identify medical problems through various means, such as physical examinations, laboratory tests, and diagnostic procedures. The focus is primarily on identifying and treating the medical condition. Case studies can also clarify these concepts.

Collaboration in Healthcare

Collaboration between nursing and medical professionals is integral to healthcare. It ensures that patients receive comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of their well-being. Effective teamwork promotes better outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Challenges and Misconceptions

Common misunderstandings in healthcare can sometimes blur the lines between nursing and medical problems. Clear communication and education are essential to prevent these misconceptions. Misunderstanding these distinctions can lead to suboptimal patient care.


In conclusion, distinguishing between nursing problems and medical problems is vital for the delivery of effective healthcare. While nursing problems focus on the patient’s response to their condition, medical problems concern the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Recognizing these differences and promoting collaboration among healthcare professionals is essential for providing holistic and patient-centered care.


  1. What is a nursing practice problem?
    • A nursing practice problem, or nursing diagnosis, pertains to issues that nurses address within their scope of practice. It focuses on the patient’s response to an illness, condition, or life situation.
  2. What is a medical practice problem?
    • A medical practice problem concerns the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and medical conditions, typically addressed by medical professionals.
  3. How do nursing and medical professionals collaborate in healthcare?
    • Healthcare professionals collaborate by combining their expertise to ensure comprehensive and holistic patient care.
  4. Why is it important to distinguish between nursing and medical problems?
    • Distinguishing between the two ensures that all aspects of a patient’s well-being are addressed, leading to better patient outcomes.
  5. What challenges arise when nursing and medical problems overlap?
    • Overlapping scenarios require effective communication and teamwork among healthcare professionals to ensure that both nursing and medical aspects are adequately addressed.

What is an example of a practice problem in nursing?

Nursing practice is a demanding profession that requires a high level of expertise, compassion, and commitment. While nurses play a critical role in patient care, they often encounter various challenges that can impact the quality of healthcare provided. These challenges, often referred to as practice problems, can encompass a range of issues. In this article, we’ll delve into the concept of practice problems in nursing and explore examples to better understand their implications.

Understanding Nursing Practice Problems

Nursing practice problems are situations, concerns, or challenges that nurses encounter while providing care to patients. These problems can hinder the delivery of quality healthcare and may lead to adverse outcomes for patients if not addressed effectively.

What Constitutes a Practice Problem in Nursing?

Practice problems in nursing can take many forms. They may include issues related to patient care, staffing, communication, technology, and more. Identifying these problems is essential to ensuring that nurses can address them promptly and effectively.

The Impact of Practice Problems on Patient Care

Practice problems in nursing can have a significant impact on patient care. When not addressed appropriately, they may lead to suboptimal care, adverse events, and compromised patient safety. Therefore, it is vital to recognize and resolve these issues to maintain high standards of care.

Factors Affecting Nursing Practice

  • Work Environment: Nurses often work in high-stress environments, and the work atmosphere can significantly influence their ability to provide quality care.
  • Staffing Levels: Inadequate staffing can lead to nurse burnout and reduced patient care quality.
  • Technological Advancements: While technology can enhance patient care, it can also be a source of frustration for nurses if not properly implemented.
  • Regulatory Changes: Nursing practice is subject to various regulations that may affect how care is delivered.
  • Patient Expectations: Meeting patient expectations, which can be diverse and challenging, is crucial for nurse-patient relationships.

Common Clinical Nursing Problems

  • Medication Errors: Administering medication is a critical aspect of nursing practice, and errors in this area can have severe consequences.
  • Infection Control: Nurses play a vital role in infection control, and lapses in this area can lead to outbreaks and harm patients.
  • Communication Issues: Effective communication is essential for patient care coordination, and communication breakdowns can lead to errors.
  • Patient Safety Concerns: Ensuring the safety of patients is a primary responsibility, and any concerns in this area must be addressed promptly.
  • Ethical Dilemmas: Nurses may encounter ethical dilemmas, such as balancing patient autonomy with the need for treatment.

How to Address Nursing Practice Problems

Addressing nursing practice problems requires a systematic approach:

  • Identifying the Issue: Recognize the specific problem and its underlying causes.
  • Collaborative Approach: Involve all relevant stakeholders in finding solutions, including nurses, healthcare providers, and administrators.
  • Training and Education: Provide ongoing training and education to enhance nurses’ skills and knowledge.
  • Continuous Improvement: Promote a culture of continuous improvement to prevent recurring problems.


In nursing, practice problems can manifest in various ways, affecting both the quality of patient care and the well-being of nurses. Recognizing these issues, addressing them proactively, and fostering a culture of improvement are essential for delivering high-quality healthcare.


  1. What are some nursing practice issues? Nursing practice issues can include challenges related to patient care, staffing, technology, communication, and ethical dilemmas. These problems can impact the quality of healthcare.
  2. What is a practice problem in nursing? A practice problem in nursing refers to a situation or challenge that nurses encounter while providing care. It can encompass a wide range of issues that affect patient care.
  3. What are the 5 factors affecting nursing practice? The five factors affecting nursing practice are the work environment, staffing levels, technological advancements, regulatory changes, and patient expectations.
  4. What are common clinical nursing problems? Common clinical nursing problems include medication errors, infection control issues, communication challenges, patient safety concerns, and ethical dilemmas.
  5. How can nursing practice problems be addressed? Nursing practice problems can be addressed through a systematic approach that includes problem identification, collaboration, training, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Example of a medical practice problem

One example of a medical practice problem in the healthcare field is the occurrence of medication errors. Medication errors can have serious consequences for both patients and healthcare providers and are a significant concern in the medical profession.

Medication errors encompass a wide range of issues, including:

  1. Prescription Errors: These occur when healthcare providers prescribe the wrong medication or the incorrect dosage for a patient. Such errors can result from illegible handwriting, miscommunication, or misunderstanding the prescription.
  2. Dispensing Errors: Pharmacy staff can make errors when dispensing medications, such as providing the wrong drug or the incorrect dosage. This can happen due to packaging similarities or mislabeling.
  3. Administration Errors: Nurses or healthcare professionals administering medications may make mistakes by giving a patient the wrong drug or dosage, administering it through the wrong route, or at the wrong time. This can result from miscommunication or lack of proper verification.
  4. Documentation Errors: Errors in documenting medication administration can lead to issues, as they can cause discrepancies in a patient’s medical records. These errors may result from neglect, oversight, or lack of proper documentation procedures.
  5. Medication Interactions: Healthcare providers need to be aware of potential interactions between medications that a patient is taking. Failing to recognize and address such interactions can lead to adverse effects or complications.

The impact of medication errors can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening situations. Patients may experience adverse drug reactions, allergic reactions, worsening of their medical conditions, or even death in severe cases. Healthcare providers also face legal and ethical consequences when medication errors occur.

To address this practice problem, healthcare organizations implement various strategies, including:

  • Double-Checking: Implementing a double-check system where healthcare providers verify the prescription and medication details before administering it.
  • Medication Reconciliation: Ensuring that a patient’s complete medication history is known and reconciled to prevent interactions and errors.
  • Technology Integration: Using technology, such as electronic health records and barcode medication administration, to reduce errors in prescription, dispensing, and administration.
  • Education and Training: Providing ongoing education and training for healthcare professionals to enhance their medication management skills.

The prevalence of medical practice problems in the United States is a significant concern within the healthcare system. While it’s challenging to provide exact percentages for all medical practice problems due to variations and evolving circumstances, we can highlight some prevalent issues along with available data and estimates:

  1. Medication Errors: Medication errors are a relatively common problem in healthcare. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is estimated that there are over 1.3 million medication errors in the United States each year. These errors can result in various levels of harm, with a percentage of them leading to severe consequences.
  2. Healthcare-Associated Infections: Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are another major concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HAIs affect approximately 1 in 31 hospital patients, with an estimated 687,000 cases occurring annually. The prevalence varies depending on the type of infection.
  3. Diagnostic Errors: The prevalence of diagnostic errors is challenging to quantify precisely. However, a report from the National Academy of Medicine suggests that diagnostic errors affect at least 12 million adults in outpatient care annually. This accounts for about 5% of U.S. adults who seek outpatient care.
  4. Patient Safety Incidents: Patient safety incidents encompass various issues such as falls, pressure ulcers, and surgical complications. The prevalence of these incidents varies widely among healthcare facilities. For example, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that between 700,000 and 1 million hospitalized patients fall each year in the United States.
  5. Communication Errors: Communication errors can affect patient safety and care quality. While exact percentages are challenging to determine, studies have shown that poor communication contributes to a significant portion of medical malpractice cases, indicating its prevalence as a practice problem.
  6. Medical Malpractice: Medical malpractice, which encompasses a range of practice problems, results in numerous lawsuits annually. Data from the National Practitioner Data Bank indicates that there were over 20,000 medical malpractice payment reports in 2019. This includes payments for various types of errors and negligence.



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