Patient care guidelines: A telephone survey of intensive care practices in New South Wales

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Journal Article
Australian Critical Care, 2010, 23 (1), pp. 21 - 29
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Background: There are a number of practice areas highlighted in the literature as important for the care of critically ill patients. However, the current implementation of evidence into clinical practice for these areas is largely unknown. The development of clinical practice guidelines can translate the current evidence into useful tools to guide clinicians in providing evidence based care. Aim: To identify existence of current guidelines and informal routine procedures and clinicians' views of same within New South Wales (NSW) Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and High Dependency Units (HDUs) for 11 practice areas, namely, bowel management, endotracheal tube (ETT) stabilisation, tracheostomy tube stabilisation, feeding, analgesia, sedation, thromboembolic prevention, head of bed elevation, ulcer prophylaxis and glucose control. Method: A telephone survey conducted with a representative from NSW ICUs and HDUs. Results: There was variation in the number of guidelines and informal routine procedures reported for the 11 practice areas within the study units. Larger ICUs (Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Level II and Level III) and those who employed an onsite CNC were significantly more likely to have formal guidelines in place. Overall, there were very few audits reportedly conducted for the 11 practice areas. Bowel management was the area of practice most respondents reported as a neglected area of critical care nursing practice and the one they were least satisfied with. Conclusion: This survey provides a baseline of current practice and guideline use within NSW ICUs and HDUs. It also highlights areas for consideration to further develop clinical practice guidelines that could benefit critically ill patients. © 2009 Australian College of Critical Care Nurses Ltd.
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