, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 1022-1028
Date: 25 Apr 2001

The Critical Nursing Situation Index for safety assessment in intensive care

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Objective: The assessment of critical nursing situations can be a valuable tool in the detection of weak elements in the safety of patients and the quality of care in the ICU. A critical nursing situation can be defined as any observable situation, which deviates from good clinical practice and which may potentially lead to an adverse event. The aim of our study was to establish the feasibility, reliability and validity of the Critical Nursing Situation Index (CNSI) as a tool for assessing the safety and the quality of nursing in the ICU. Design: We described the deviations from standards and protocols in daily ICU nursing care, selected those with an implicit, clear risk for the patients and translated them into explicitly observable items. If an item was applicable during observation of the ICU practice, a critical nursing situation could be recorded as either true or false. The reliability of the CNSI was defined in terms of inter-observer agreement. The validity was assessed by exploring the relationship between the nursing time available (more or less than 30 min per patient per hour) and the incidence of critical nursing situations. Setting: The study was performed in the ICU of a teaching hospital (30 IC beds) in which all disciplines, including cardiothoracic surgery and neurosurgery, were represented. Patients: The CNSI was randomly applied to 83 ICU patients over a period of 3 months (200 times). Measurements and results: The reliability of the index was substantial (Kappa values in the range ≥0.70 to >0.80). In terms of validity, less nursing time resulted in more critical situations (pooled relative risk (RR) 1.36; 95% confidence limits 1.11/1.67). Conclusion: The CNSI is simple to use and has encouraging metric properties, whereas the assessments are closely related to direct patient care. Moreover, the CNSI provides a tool for safety assessment by monitoring potentially dangerous situations that are generally regarded as needing to be avoided.

Final revision received: 28 February 2001
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