Basic Terms and Terminology Relating to Following a Given Set of Directions

  • Procedure: The correct way to do something.
  • Sequence: The steps of a process or procedure in order from the first step to the last step.

Our daily personal and work lives often require that we are able to follow a set of directions. Over time, the complexities of these instructions have significantly increased as the result of more advanced and sophistical products and procedures. For example, in the 1950s, a person could purchase a television set and go home and simply watch it after plugging it in to an electrical source. Now, most of us, except for some of the experts among us, have to get a professional or another highly skilled person to set up a new TV purchase so we can use it.

We have to follow directions and instructions in our daily person lives in order to:

  • Follow a recipe to create a meal
  • Set up and assemble a child's toy
  • Set up and assemble a piece of furniture
  • Sew a garment using a pattern for it
  • Operate an electrical tool

Following Directions & Procedures

We have to follow directions and instructions in our daily work lives in order to:

  • Process a job order
  • Appropriately complete and forward an accident or incident report
  • Assemble a product during the manufacturing process
  • Safely and appropriately use a piece of equipment

Those in nursing and other healthcare related fields are expected to provide safe, appropriate, effective and timely care. Providing patient care and using patient related equipment are essential skills that can be attained by following directions and instructions. A failure to do this in the healthcare field can lead to serious and even deadly consequences for the patients that are being cared for.

Reading, comprehending and following directions and instructions take some knowledge, skills and abilities. This knowledge and these skills and abilities will be discussed below.

Below is a recipe that can be analyzed to find some ways to more accurately understand and use in order to insure a good outcome:
Creme Brulee Recipe by Paula Dean, FoodNetwork.com

The recipe above has several clue words or signal words that aid in the comprehension of this recipe and how to follow it. These clue words or signal words are written in red below.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a heavy-bottomed medium non-reactive saucepan, heat cream with vanilla bean over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring to ensure it does not burn; do not let boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the vanilla bean, or save for another use. Strain cream through a fine mesh sieve.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar. Add about half the cream mixture, a little at a time, to the egg mixture, whisking until well blended. Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining cream mixture. Stir until completely blended.

Pour the custard into 4 (9-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Place the dishes in large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the mixture is set in the center (it should still wiggle when shaken). Carefully remove the dishes from the baking pan. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. Let creme brulee stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

Divide 1/3 to 1/2 cup white or light brown sugar in a thin, even layer over each custard, covering it completely. To caramelize the sugar, light a propane torch* and hold it so the flame just touches the surface. Start at the center and spiral out toward the edges of the ramekins. If the sugar begins to burn, pull the torch away and blow on the sugar to extinguish the flame. Serve immediately.

The signal or clue words in this recipe include:

  • Meanwhile
  • Until
  • Then
  • Before
  • Start
  • Spin out
  • Immediately

Although the steps of the recipe are not numbered to tell you the proper sequence of steps in this procedure, this recipe is organized in the proper sequence without any numbers, and, the signal or clue words listed above give you the proper sequential order of the steps to insure that the outcome of this recipe is as it should be. These clue words or signal words give us information about the relationships among and between steps of this procedure.

Other signal words, in addition to the ones listed above, include:

  • First
  • Last
  • After
  • Second, third, fourth, etc.
  • Lastly
  • Finally
  • Now
  • Next
  • When
  • While

In addition to clue words or signal words, specific directions and instructions are also included in procedures. Specific directions tell us precisely how and when we should perform a step of the procedure.

Below are some of the crème brulee recipe specific directions and instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Heat the cream with vanilla bean over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring to insure it does not burn
  • Remove from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the vanilla bean, or save for another use.
  • Strain the cream through a fine mesh sieve.
  • Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually beat in 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Below is another procedure that is used by nurses and other people in health care. Read it and focus on the clue or signal words as well as the specific instructions or directions on how to perform this procedure in a complete, appropriate and accurate manner.

The Proper Patient Identification Procedure

  1. First, greet the patient by using his or her name.
  2. Next, introduce yourself to the patient.
  3. Explain what you are going to do with and for the patient before giving any care.
  4. Look at the patient's identification band for the first and last name of the person and other information that you can check on the patient's identification band, such as allergies OR scan the bar code if the patient's identification band is bar coded.
  5. Finally, do at least two of the following with the patient or family member.
  • Ask the person to state his or her full first, middle and last name.
  • Check this name against the patient's identification band

OR

  • Ask the person to tell you the "secret code" number or word given upon admission.
  • Check this "secret code" against the patient's identification band or patient record.

OR

  • Ask the patient to offer his or her full telephone number including the area code.
  • Check this phone number against the patient's medical record.

OR

  • Ask the patient for his or her address.
  • Check this address against the person's medical record.

OR

  • Ask the patient to tell you his or her social security number.
  • Check this social security number against the patient's social security number in the patient record.

OR

  • Look at the person's face.
  • Compare this face to the photograph in the patient record.

The clue words or procedural signal words are written in red in the same procedure below:

  1. First, greet the patient by using his or her name.
  2. Next, introduce yourself to the patient.
  3. Explain what you are going to do with and for the patient before giving any care.
  4. Look at the patient's identification band for the first and last name of the person and other information that you can check on the patient's identification band, such as allergies OR scan the bar code if the patient's identification band is bar coded.
  5. Finally, do at least two of the following with the patient or family member.
  • Ask the person to state his or her full first, middle and last name.
  • Check this name against the patient's identification band

OR

  • Ask the person to tell you the "secret code" number or word given upon admission.
  • Check this "secret code" against the patient's identification band or patient record.

OR

  • Ask the patient to offer his or her full telephone number including the area code.
  • Check this phone number against the patient's medical record.

OR

  • Ask the patient for his or her address.
  • Check this address against the person's medical record.

OR

  • Ask the patient to tell you his or her social security number.
  • Check this social security number against the patient's social security number in the patient record.

OR

  • Look at the person's face.
  • Compare this face to the photograph in the patient record.

The sequence of the tasks that are done for the patient identification process are easy to see in this procedure because the steps of the procedure or process are numbered in consecutive order from # 1 to # 5 and the final step, which is # 5, has several options that are clearly and concisely listed.

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