Improving the accuracy of fluid intake charting through patient involvement in an adult surgical ward: a best practice implementation project

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Abstract

Objectives:

The main objective of this evidence-based utilization project was to improve the accuracy of fluid intake charting through patient involvement.

Introduction:

The accurate documentation and maintenance of fluid balance charts constitute an integral part of nursing care. However, inaccuracies in fluid balance charting by nurses often occur. Inaccurate charting can result in delayed interventions, affecting the safety of patients. It has been found that fluid intake charting in an acute surgical inpatient ward is highly inaccurate. Many expressions of dissatisfaction are evident among medical healthcare professionals and patients regarding the accurate updating of the charts. Therefore, evidence-based measures need to be implemented in order to improve the safety of patient care through accurate recording of patients’ fluid intake.

Methods:

The project took place in a 21-bed acute surgical ward which had 30 patients. The Joanna Briggs Institute Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System (JBI-PACES) and Getting Research into Practice (GRiP) tools were used to implement the evidence-based project. A pre- and post- audit methodology congruent with the framework was applied. The project was implemented in three phases from April to September 2016. The audit criteria obtained from JBI-PACES were used. The project's primary focus was to harness patient involvement in improving the accuracy of fluid intake charting.

Results:

Criteria 1 and 2 revealed low levels of compliance during the pre-implementation audit, 3% and 10%, respectively. There were significant improvements one month post-implementation for both Criteria 1 and 2, 100% and 87%, also respectively. Fisher's exact test was carried out and the statistical significance of the results was achieved (p < 0.001), compared to the pre-implementation audit. At six months post-implementation, the audit found that both criteria were adequately sustained as a practice in the ward (Criterion 1: 100%, Criterion 2: 83%).

Conclusions:

This project has demonstrated the effectiveness of improving the accuracy of fluid intake charting through patient involvement. The use of JBI-PACES and GRiP has allowed the effective utilization of evidence in practice. It has also provided evidence that effective engagement of the ground nurses and stakeholders coupled with the commitment of change champions and ground nurses can contribute to improving practice in a highly demanding acute care setting and lead to healthcare success.

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