Using consensus methods to develop clinical practice guidelines for intensive care: The Intensive Care Collaborative project

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Journal Article
Australian Critical Care, 2008, 21 (4), pp. 200 - 215
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Background: Clinical practices or procedures based on the best available evidence are an essential resource within an intensive care unit (ICU). Maintaining the currency of a local clinical practice manual is challenging however, particularly in relation to the time required, other workload pressures and the availability of staff with relevant skills to interrogate the literature. The aim of the Intensive Care Collaborative (ICC) project was to use the synergism of group processes to develop state-based clinical guidelines for six common intensive care practices - eye care, oral care, endotracheal tube management, suctioning, arterial line management, and central venous catheter (CVC) management. Methods: Participants were 55 senior nurse clinicians from all nine area health services in NSW, seven academic facilitators, and staff from the Intensive Care Coordination and Monitoring Unit (ICCMU). A range of approaches were used to develop the six clinical practice guidelines (CPG) and related systematic literature reviews, including a preparatory educational seminar for participants, formation of working groups of clinicians, with subsequent teleconferences, e-mail and online forums to identify the scope of each guideline and review the literature. A consensus development conference (CDC) was conducted to finalise the reviews with a nominal group technique (NGT) used to develop recommendations for practice. External Validation Panels (EVP) verified the recommendations in each clinical practice guideline. Group voting was undertaken using a Likert scale (1-3 disagree, 4-6 neutral, 7-9 agree) with consensus agreement set as a median of at least seven. Results: Eighty-three recommendations for practice were developed for the six Clinical Practice Guidelines; 50% were based on research literature evidence (23% with high levels of evidence). The balance were based on consensus opinion of the panel members. Only five recommendations were not validated by external validation. Conclusion: This project has demonstrated a method for guideline development that is robust, incorporating evidence from research and clinical expertise utilising an objective egalitarian framework. © 2008 Australian College of Critical Care Nurses Ltd.
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