As more and more hospitals turn to remote intensive care units to boost care for critical patients, provider roles will need to be clearly defined to ensure quality and safety. With that in mind, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses just unveiled a new document outlining practice guidelines specifically geared toward tele-ICU nurses.
The document, meant to serve as a "framework" for the practice of tele-ICU nursing, outlines three guidelines, including:
- Establishing an environment that promotes effective communication, collaboration, and collegiality
- Demonstrating proficiency in specific knowledge, skills, and competencies to contribute to patient outcomes
- Engaging in measuring and analyzing outcomes to ensure ongoing improvement in patient care and tele-ICU nurses' contribution to care.
For the first guideline, AACN states that nursing leaders must work with the rest of their staff to create policies for standardizing tele-ICU procedures such as virtual rounding, patient care hand-offs and documentation. For the second guideline, AACN says that tele-ICU nurses must have the same foundational care knowledge as their bedside counterparts, but also must show an ability to work with multiple computer applications and monitoring systems not common to typical ICUs.
For the third guideline, AACN says that tele-ICU nurses must continuously "study and reflect" on their work to ensure that the care they are delivering maximizes patient outcomes.
"The care of patients who are acutely or critically ill has expanded beyond the traditional boundaries of the ICU," Connie Barden, AACN past president and director of telehealth initiatives at Miami's Baptist Health South Florida, said in an announcement accompanying the guidelines. "Having standardized definitions and practice guidelines benefits nurses and other clinicians who practice from a remote location, the patients they care for and the organizations they work for."
Barden also serves as co-chair of AACN's Tele-ICU Task Force.
Critical care nurses responding to a survey published in the January 2012 American Journal of Critical Care pointed to communication and personal relationships as key to the success of eICUs.