Reflective accounts

Managing encephalitis

A CPD article improved Hellen Wambui’s knowledge of how to treat and manage encephalitis

A CPD article improved Hellen Wambuis knowledge of how to treat and manage encephalitis

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The CPD article provided an overview of the signs and symptoms of encephalitis, and the treatment and management of this condition. It also discussed the different aspects of nursing care required for these patients.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article stated that encephalitis is inflammation of the brain tissue. The main causes of this neurological condition are direct infection of the brain tissue by pathogens, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) and varicella zoster virus, and inflammation triggered by an abnormal response of the immune system.

Patients usually present with encephalopathy, which is an altered level

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A CPD article improved Hellen Wambui’s knowledge of how to treat and manage encephalitis

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The CPD article provided an overview of the signs and symptoms of encephalitis, and the treatment and management of this condition. It also discussed the different aspects of nursing care required for these patients.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article stated that encephalitis is inflammation of the brain tissue. The main causes of this neurological condition are direct infection of the brain tissue by pathogens, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) and varicella zoster virus, and inflammation triggered by an abnormal response of the immune system.

Patients usually present with encephalopathy, which is an altered level of consciousness or a change in personality, behaviour or cognition. I learned that encephalitis is established as the cause of encephalopathy when clinical investigations show brain inflammation.

The article outlined the symptoms of encephalitis, which include fever, persistent headache, weakness in the limbs, seizures, altered or unusual behaviour, irritability and hallucinations.

Encephalitis is a neurological emergency that requires prompt investigation and treatment to avoid serious outcomes. Treatments include aciclovir for HSV and broad-spectrum antibiotics.

How did you change or improve your practice?

I work in a rehabilitation unit for patients with neurocognitive impairments, some of whom present with encephalitis.

Reading the article has helped me understand what is expected of me as a nurse, the possible challenges and the best ways to support these patients and their relatives.

High-quality nursing care is essential to provide effective treatment, rehabilitation and discharge planning. My role as a nurse includes assisting with investigations, recognising acute clinical deterioration and seizures, and administering emergency first aid.

I am involved in the management of medications and in monitoring patients’ fluid and food intake. In addition, I support patients’ relatives, arrange referrals to psychology services and contact agencies such as social services or charities.

Reading the article has improved my awareness of the presentation of patients with encephalitis. I have a better understanding of the signs and symptoms, as well as the treatment options. I have been able to apply my improved knowledge and skills to caring for two patients with encephalitis on my ward. I also plan to ensure I make appropriate referrals to other services in a timely manner.

How is this relevant to the Code? Select one or more themes: Prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety, promote professionalism and trust

The theme of prioritising people involves working with the patient, their family and the multidisciplinary team to address the patient’s needs and concerns.

Patients should be provided with information about their diagnosis, long-term difficulties they might experience and counselling services.

It is important to recognise encephalitis might have a significant effect on a patient’s self-image. Nurses can provide support by listening to the patient, responding to their concerns and involving them in decisions about their care.

Hellen Wambui is a staff nurse at Mildmay Mission Hospital in London


This reflective account is based on NS819 Matata C et al (2015) Managing patients with encephalitis. Nursing Standard. 30, 11, 50-58. The questions are the same as those on the NMC templates that UK nurses and midwives must use for revalidation.

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