Improving communication in a pediatric intensive care unit using daily patient goal sheets

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the study was to determine if a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) daily patient goal sheet would improve communication between health care providers and decrease length of stay (LOS).

Materials and Methods

We evaluated a daily patient goal sheet's impact on questionnaire-based measures of effectiveness of communication, nurses' knowledge of physicians in charge, and on LOS in the PICU.

Results

Four hundred nineteen questionnaires were completed by nurses and physicians before goal sheet implementation and 387 after implementation. Nurses and physicians perceived an improved understanding of patient care goals (P < .001), reported increased comfort in explaining patient care goals to parents (P < .001), and listed a higher number of patient care goals after goal sheet implementation (P < .01). Nurses identified the patient's attending physician and fellow with increased accuracy after goal sheet implementation (P < .001). Median PICU LOS was unchanged; however, mean LOS trended toward a reduction after goal sheet implementation (4.1 vs 3.7 days, P = .36). Seventy-six percent of respondents found the goal sheets helpful.

Conclusions

Using a PICU daily patient goal sheet can improve communication between health care providers, help nurses identify the in-charge physicians, and be helpful for patient care. By explicitly documenting patient care goals, there is enhanced clarity of patient care plans between health care providers.

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