Posts Tagged ‘evidence-based practice’


How Should We Measure Temperature in Young Children?

September 10, 2015

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

Photo courtesy of Exergen Corporation.

Photo courtesy of Exergen Corporation.

Do you dread taking rectal temperatures in pediatric patients, knowing that your action will leave you with a screaming, distrustful child as well as a distressed parent? Rectal temperature measurements have long been considered the “gold standard” for accuracy. But are they essential in very young children, especially when infection is not suspected?

Improving Pediatric Temperature Measurement in the ED” in our September issue relates how a group of ED nurses explored possible alternatives to routine rectal temperature measurements during triage. Their ED protocol had been to use this method in all children under the age of five. However, this practice extended the time needed for triage, was often upsetting to parents, and seemed potentially unnecessary when the reason for the ED visit did not suggest infection (where there would be a need for more careful fever assessment).

An existing emergency services committee made up of ED staff nurses from the hospital’s two campuses set out to explore their options. The committee’s first move was to clearly define the practice problem:

Using PICOT format (Patient population, Intervention of interest, Comparison intervention, Outcome, Time frame), the committee initially formulated the following clinical question: For pediatric patients younger than five years of age (P) who require temperature measurement (I), what is the safest method of measurement (C) to achieve consistently reliable temperature measurement (O) in the triage process (T)?

Under the guidance of an advanced practice nurse, they performed a literature search for relevant articles and guidelines and consulted local pediatric specialty hospitals about their practices. Nursing administrators provided paid release time to committee members so that part of the nurses’ work on this QI project could be done during work hours. Read the rest of this entry ?


Editing a Journal: Not Bedside Nursing, But Still an Urgency to Get Things Right

August 14, 2015

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

‘Nurses practice based on what’s in the literature; we need editors who will draw lines and stand firm against publishing biased and inaccurate papers.’

Niklas Bildhauer/ Wikimedia Commons

Niklas Bildhauer/ Wikimedia Commons

I recently returned from a meeting in Las Vegas, the land of lights and bells and six-story marquees—and heat (it hit 109 when I was there, but “a dry heat”). The long flight home gave me time to reflect on the meeting I’d attended (of editors of nursing journals) and on what I do.

When I began my nursing career, I always thought I would stay in the acute care setting. I found the fast pace of the ER challenging and never boring. When I moved into a clinical specialist position and then an administrative one, I could still get involved in challenging situations, from dealing with problems that occurred on clinical units or with staff to navigating the politics of hospital committees and community liaisons.

But time passes and paths twist and turn, and here I am the editor of AJN—and it’s the most challenging and professionally fulfilling job I’ve had.

The International Academy of Nursing Editors (INANE for short) meets annually. It’s a loose networking group, mainly held together through a Web site, blog, and listserv. There are no officers or bylaws, no dues. Each year someone volunteers to host the annual meeting and whoever would like to help joins in. Anyone can propose a project, and those who want to work on it volunteer. We pass the hat to raise funds to support the Web site and incidental expenses and to help new editors attend the INANE meeting.

But don’t accuse this laid-back group of being inactive or frivolous—serious issues are tackled on an ongoing basis. True, they are not as exciting as the situations one might encounter in the clinical arena, but they have an effect on what many nurses do and think and implement in practice.

In Las Vegas, sessions focused on some important topics, including

  • the retraction of articles, i.e., when a publisher basically admits that an article is flawed and should not have been published.
  • the ethics of authorship and what to do when authors don’t want to disclose who actually wrote the paper, thus leaving room for conflicts of interest, bias, and skewed results and conclusions.
  • when and how much to fact-check authors’ references.
  • how to ensure students are getting the correct information about scholarly writing and publishing.
  • how to help new authors get their articles published.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Evidence-Based Practice and the Curiosity of Nurses

July 27, 2015

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

karen eliot/flickr

by karen eliot/via flickr

In a series of articles in AJN, evidence-based practice (EBP) is defined as problem solving that “integrates the best evidence from well-designed studies and patient care data, and combines it with patient preferences and values and nurse expertise.”

We recently asked AJN’s Facebook fans to weigh in on the meaning of EBP for them. Some skeptics regarded it as simply the latest buzzword in health care, discussed “only when Joint Commission is in the building.” One comment noted that “evidence” can be misused to justify overtreatment and generate more profits. Another lamented that EBP serves to highlight the disconnect between education and practice—that is, between what we’re taught (usually, based on evidence) and what we do (often the result of limited resources).

There’s probably some truth in these observations. But at baseline, isn’t EBP simply about doing our best for patients by basing our clinical practice on the best evidence we can find? AJN has published some great examples of staff nurses who asked questions, set out to answer them, and ended up changing practice.

  • In a June 2013 article, nurses describe how they devised a nurse-directed protocol that resulted in fewer catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).
  • A 2014 article relates how oncology nurses discovered the lack of evidence for the notion that blood can only be transfused through large-bore needles. These nurses were able to make transfusions safer and more comfortable for their patients. Read the rest of this entry ?

AJN Collections of Note: From Women’s Health Issues to Assessment Tools for Older Adults

May 18, 2015

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

'Nuff Said by ElektraCute / Elektra Noelani Fisher, via Flickr.

Elektra Noelani Fisher/ Flickr

It’s easy to miss, but there’s a tab at the top of the AJN home page that will take you to our collections page. There you can delve more deeply into a wide range of topics—and find many options for obtaining continuing education credits in the process.

For example, you’ll find a collection of recent continuing education (CE) feature articles devoted to women’s health issues, such as menopausal hormone therapy, cardiovascular disease prevention for women, and issues faced by young women who are BRCA positive.

The patient population in the U.S. continues to age. To gain confidence in meeting the needs of these patients, nurses can consult our practical collection of articles and videos devoted to the use of evidence-based geriatric assessment tools and best practices.

For the more creative side of nursing, we have a collection of 20 visual works and poems from our Art of Nursing column.

For those concerned with potential legal issues, it’s a good idea to have a look at the three CE articles from our Legal Clinic column on protecting your nursing license.

For would-be authors and those interested in applying knowledge to practice more effectively, there are step-by-step series on conducting a systematic review and on how nurses can implement evidence-based practice at their institutions. Read the rest of this entry ?


Cochrane Reviews: An Oft-Overlooked Evidence Source for Nurses at the Bedside

May 1, 2015

By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.

“Research holding the torch of knowledge” (1896) by Olin Levi Warner. Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C./Photo by Carol Highsmith, via Wikipedia

Long ago, in an ICU far away, I picked up the habit of saying, during rounds, “Well, you know, research suggests the practice…” I have trouble remembering who taught me this tactic, but it has always been a highly effective way of advocating for my patients.

The eyes of doctors, never ones to be silenced by a nurse who reads research, usually light up at the challenge.

I’ll admit that, for a while, many of my conversational citations came from ‘clinical pearls’ or tidbits I read from certifying organizations via social media. While my knowledge was based on credible sources, my analysis was topical, at best.

Then I started graduate school. Although my program isn’t a clinical one, the need to seek out evidence for class assignments intensified my practice of trying to apply research evidence at the bedside.

It’s tricky to find and discuss credible research as a bedside nurse. Services like Lexicomp and UpToDate, which most hospitals hold subscriptions to, compile current research for clinician use and provide comprehensive information that’s far more credible than Wikipedia. But they’re exhaustive and often require a pretty hefty chunk of time to really analyze and understand. Printing out a 37-page document to hand to an attending on rounds isn’t a practice I’d recommend.

So how do we get reliable, evidence-based information efficiently when it’s needed? It wasn’t until deep into grad school that I started to realize that Cochrane Reviews were sometimes the best bedside research translator out there. The Cochrane Collaboration is an international, nonprofit organization that performs systematic reviews on peer-reviewed journal articles. The reviews are considered, by my professors at least, often the best form of evidence. Short summaries and abstracts are free to all users and are easy to find via PubMed and print. (Full access is subscription based, at least in the U.S.)

‘Sedation vacations’: yes, no, maybe? A topic I’ve always loved to use my research line on is the practice of ‘sedation vacations.’ When patients are deathly ill and ventilated, their lives depend on the use of sedatives. However, studies have linked lengthy use of sedative agents to serious complications—drug bioaccumulation, postextubation delirium, decreased quality of life, and adverse events, to name a few. Hence, the daily sedation vacation was born.

Most ICUs these days require a daily sedation vacation for intubated, sedated patients. There’s little doubt that patients are often oversedated, and the practice of pausing the sedation to see if they wake up and then readjusting their sedation according to policy can cut excess use. Some units allow nurses to perform the practice without input from an attending physician. Others rely on a case-by-case method. I’ve worked in both, and in both have said the words, “You know, research calls for daily sedation vacations, and this patient meets the criteria. Should I move forward?”

In most such instances, a sedation vacation was authorized for the patient, and sometimes a discussion of current practices was stimulated by my reference to research. I’d always thought that sedation vacations were a validated, proven, evidence-based practice, and had always advocated for them when my patients met clinical criteria. Read the rest of this entry ?


Study Clarifies How Staff Nurses Use Research in Practice

September 5, 2014

By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

Most health care professionals agree that it’s important to apply research findings to real-life practice. Indeed, several studies have shown that nurses place a high value on doing just that. Yet numerous barriers continue to prevent or hamper the implementation of evidence-based practice (EBP).

Table 4. ‘Of the tools available to you at work and/or home, which tools do you use?’

Table 4. ‘Of the tools available to you at work and/or home, which tools do you use?’

To learn more, Linda Yoder and colleagues surveyed nearly 800 staff nurses in an acute care multihospital system. They sought to determine the extent to which these RNs used research findings in their practice; what types of knowledge they used; and what personal, professional, and organizational factors enhanced or hindered their use of research. In one of this month’s two CE features, “Staff Nurses’ Use of Research to Facilitate Evidence-Based Practice,” Yoder and colleagues report on their findings. Here’s a short summary.

Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive, online survey design was used. The survey, which asked about use of research findings in practice and EBP participation, was placed on the hospital system intranet.
Results: The forms of knowledge that staff nurses reported relying on most were their personal experience with patients, conferences, hospital policies and procedures, physician colleagues, and nursing peers. Although a variety of resources were available for help in locating research and implementing EBP, respondents reported many of the same barriers that have been reported in other studies: lack of time, lack of resources, and lack of knowledge. Although their attitudes about research utilization and EBP were positive overall, respondents expected unit-based educators and clinical nurse specialists to collect and synthesize the research for them.
Conclusions: These findings are similar to those of other recent studies in this area. A great deal of work remains to be done if we are to inform, educate, and assist staff nurses in using research and implementing EBP. It may be unrealistic to expect bedside nurses to add these activities to their duties unless they are compensated for the time and have the support of master’s- or doctorally prepared nurses to serve as EBP coaches and champions.

The bigger picture. In closing, Yoder and colleagues call for a kind of climate change, stating, “We believe, as do others, that nurse leaders, managers, and educators have a responsibility to create a culture that supports EBP and research utilization.”

For more details, read the article, which is free online. And please weigh in and share your own experiences!

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AJN’s September Issue: Anaphylaxis at School, Central Line Care, EBP, More

August 29, 2014

SeptemberAJN’s September issue is now available on our Web site. Here’s a selection of what not to miss.

It’s back-to-school time, and on our cover this month is a photo of Head Start nursing supervisor Travia Williams weighing a student in the program’s classroom at Cocoa High School in Brevard County, Florida. The program provides enrolled children with screening, physicals, and other health care services.

According to the National Association of School Nurses, a third of all school districts in the United States have reduced nursing staff and a quarter don’t have any nurses at all. Yet there is the potential for more emergencies in school now than ever, with school nurses treating increasingly complex medical conditions and chronic illnesses. For more on the important role school nurses play in handling these health emergencies, see the In Our Community article, “Emergency Anaphylaxis at School.” And don’t miss a podcast interview with the author (this and other podcasts are accessible via the Behind the Article page on our Web site or, if you’re in our iPad app, by tapping the icon on the first page of the article).

Applying EBP to Practice. Despite the recognized importance of evidence-based practice (EBP), there continues to be a gap between the emergence of research findings and their application to practice. In this month’s original research article, “Staff Nurses’ Use of Research to Facilitate Evidence-Based Practice,” the authors used an online survey to determine to what extent RNs in an acute care multihospital system used research findings in their practice. Several barriers to such use were revealed, including lack of time and resources. This CE feature offers 3 CE credits to those who take the test that follows the article. Read the rest of this entry ?


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