Defining patient deterioration through acute care and intensive care nurses' perspectives
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofNursing in critical care ; vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 68-77.
Aim: To explore variations between acute care and intensive care nurses’ understanding of patient deterioration according to their use of this term in published literature. Background: Evidence suggests that nurses on wards do not always recognize and act upon patient deterioration appropriately. Even if resources exist to call for intensive care nurses’ help, acute care nurses use them infrequently and the problem of unattended patient deterioration remains. Design: Dimensional analysis was used as a framework to analyze papers retrieved in a nursing focused database. Method: A thematic analysis of 34 papers (2002-2012) depicting acute care and intensive care unit nurses’ perspectives on patient deterioration was conducted. Findings: No explicit definition of patient deterioration was retrieved in the papers. There are variations between acute care and intensive care unit nurses’ accounts of this concept, particularly regarding the validity of patient deterioration indicators. Contextual factors, processes and consequences are also explored. Conclusions: From the perspectives of acute care and intensive care nurses, patient deterioration can be defined as an evolving, predictable and symptomatic process of worsening physiology toward critical illness. Contextual factors relating to acute care units appear as barriers to optimal care of the deteriorating patient. This work can be considered as a first effort in modeling the concept of patient deterioration, which could be specific to acute care units. Relevance to Clinical Practice: The findings suggest it might be relevant to include subjective indicators of patient deterioration in track and trigger systems and educational efforts. Contextual factors impacting care for the deteriorating patient could be addressed in further attempts to deal with this issue