A nurse is performing a shift assessment on an elderly patient who is recovering after surgery for a hip fracture. The nurse notes that the patient is complaining of chest pain, has an increased heart rate, and increased respiratory rate. The nurse further notes that the patient is febrile and hypoxic, coughing, and producing large amounts of thick, white sputum. The nurse recognizes that this is a medical emergency and calls for assistance,recognizing that this patient is likely demonstrating symptoms of what complication?

Answer Explanation: Fat embolism syndrome occurs most frequently in young adults and elderly patients who experience fractures of the proximal femur (i.e., hip fracture). Presenting features of fat embolism syndrome include hypoxia, tachypnea, tachycardia, and pyrexia. The respiratory distress response includes tachypnea, dyspnea, wheezes, precordial chest pain, cough, large amounts of thick, white sputum, and tachycardia. Avascular necrosis (AVN) occurs when the bone loses its blood supply and dies. This does not cause coughing. Complex regional pain syndrome does not have cardiopulmonary involvement.

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