Most Popular Articles

Assessing the abdomen

Mehta, Marjaana

Nursing Critical Care. 5(1):47-48, January 2010.

Use sight, sound, and touch to assess your patient's abdomen for abnormalities. This article provides step-by-step photos to help you improve your technique.

Performing a respiratory assessment

Mehta, Marjaana

Nursing Critical Care. 5(3):45-47, May 2010.

Follow the steps in this illustrated guide to performing a thorough respiratory assessment through inspection, palpation, percussion, auscultation, and taking a complete patient history.

Caring for hospitalized patients with alcohol withdrawal syndrome

Elliott, Dolores Y.

Nursing Critical Care. 14(5):18-30, September 2019.

Alcohol use disorder can lead to the potentially life-threatening alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). Assessing for AWS is an important skill for frontline nurses in all hospital units. This article includes screening tools and tips to individualize patient treatment.

Getting involved in policy and politics

Oestberg, Fredrik

Nursing Critical Care. 8(3):48, May 2013.

By knowing how the political system works and which strategies can effectively influence policy, any nurse can become an advocate at the local, state, or federal level.

Determining the level of evidence: Experimental research appraisal

Glasofer, Amy; Townsend, Ann B.

Nursing Critical Care. 14(6):22-25, November 2019.

The first installment in this series provides a basic understanding of research design to appraise the level of evidence of a source. This article reviews appraisal of randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental research.

A guide to critical appraisal of evidence

Fineout-Overholt, Ellen

Nursing Critical Care. 14(3):24-30, May 2019.

How do nurses assess the quality of clinical research? This article outlines a stepwise approach to critical appraisal of research studies' worth to clinical practice: rapid critical appraisal, evaluation, synthesis, and recommendation. When critical care nurses apply a body of valid, reliable, and applicable evidence to daily practice, patient outcomes are improved.

Using pain to assess neurologic response

Lower, Judith "Ski"

Nursing Critical Care. 5(4):11-12, July 2010.

This illustrated guide explains various techniques for assessing a patient's neurologic response through painful stimuli, which are used when a patient doesn't respond to verbal stimuli or gentle shaking.

Measuring serum lactate

Antinone, Richard; Kress, Terri

Nursing Critical Care. 4(5):56, September 2009.

A serum lactate level, which measures the level of lactic acid in the blood, is a fairly reliable and accurate indication of tissue hypoperfusion and hypoxia. Learn about this test, how to interpret results, and what your patient needs to know.

Correct that calcium

Avent, Yvonne

Nursing Critical Care. 2(4):14-17, July 2007.

Hypocalcemia and hypercalcemia can have many varied causes and clinical symptoms. Knowledge of medical management and nursing interventions is critical.

Sepsis-3: The new definitions

Seckel, Maureen A.

Nursing Critical Care. 12(2):37-43, March 2017.

Sepsis definitions were recently revised by the Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3) to better align with current understanding of the research, physiology, and management of patients with sepsis. This article reviews the new definitions and other recent changes in sepsis management.

Caring for patients with burn injuries

Culleiton, Alicia L.; Simko, Lynn M.

Nursing Critical Care. 8(1):14-22, January 2013.

Caring for a patient with severe burn injuries offers many challenges for critical care nurses. Find out about various types of burns and providing initial resuscitative care for a patient if treatment in a designated burn center facility or burn ICU isn't possible.

Improve your professional etiquette

Pagana, Kathleen D.

Nursing Critical Care. 5(6):48, November 2010.

Professional etiquette is critical for presenting yourself as a polished, confident, and professional nurse. These seven tips can help you stand out and improve your chances for career success.

Evidence-based practice for red blood cell transfusions

Fredrich, Nanci L.

Nursing Critical Care. 11(1):31-37, January 2016.

Research regarding the best use of transfusion of all types of blood components has grown over the last 20 years, resulting in numerous studies to support evidence-based practice in transfusion medicine. Current research has compared the use of transfusion thresholds or triggers in various patient populations and the effect of a restrictive or liberal strategy on patient outcomes, adverse events, and complications.

Music helps heal mind, body, and spirit

Thomas, Linda S.

Nursing Critical Care. 9(6):28-31, November 2014.

Heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption decease when the right type of music is played. This auditory stimulus positively affects the patient physiologically and psychologically.

How to recognize and respond to refeeding syndrome

Yantis, Mary Ann; Velander, Robyn

Nursing Critical Care. 4(3):14-20, May 2009.

Restarting nutrition in malnourished patients can pose lethal consequences. Here's what you need to know about assessing your patient and avoiding problems.

Deceased donor organ donation: The critical care nurse's role

O'Leary, Geraldine M.

Nursing Critical Care. 13(4):27-32, July 2018.

Critical care nurses are instrumental in the process of identifying potential organ donors. As such, nurses must be familiar with the criteria used to determine brain death and best practices when communicating with the families of potential donors.

Understanding ventilator waveforms—and how to use them in patient care

Lian, Jin Xiong

Nursing Critical Care. 4(1):43-55, January 2009.

Ventilator waveforms provide real-time information about patient ventilator interaction and ventilator function. Learn the basics of ventilator waveforms, how they're interpreted, and how you can use this information when caring for your patient.

Nurse-driven protocols

Barto, Donna

Nursing Critical Care. 14(4):18-24, July 2019.

Without nurse-driven protocols, nurses must contact a physician or NP for intervention orders. The sense of autonomy nurses derive from nurse-driven protocols can contribute to increased nursing job satisfaction and retention rates. This article outlines the step-by-step process of designing and implementing a new protocol in the hospital setting.

Recognizing amiodarone-induced hypothyroidism

Mosher, Mary C.

Nursing Critical Care. 7(3):27-32, May 2012.

Amiodarone is often prescribed for ventricular and atrial dysrhythmias. The signs and symptoms of amiodarone-induced hypothyroidism (AIH) can be missed or misdiagnosed in a patient with a complex clinical condition. Here's what you need to know.

Inhaled epoprostenol for acute respiratory distress syndrome

Schroeder, Nicole M.; Castiello, Danielle R.; Siemianowski, Laura A.

Nursing Critical Care. 13(4):6-13, July 2018.

This article describes the safe and effective use of inhaled epoprostenol in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) by examining the current literature published on this topic.

Patient readiness for PACU discharge

Pusey-Reid, Eleonor

Nursing Critical Care. 13(5):31-34, September 2018.

Prematurely discharging patients from the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) can lead to poor patient outcomes. To achieve optimal patient outcomes, nurses need to be familiar with evidence-based practices surrounding safe patient discharge from the PACU.

Recognizing pulmonary hypertension on the ECG

Barto, Donna

Nursing Critical Care. 6(2):11-13, March 2011.

Clues on your patient's ECG can alert you to the presence of pulmonary hypertension, which increases right ventricular workload.

Tracheostomy Care

Parker, Laura C.

Nursing Critical Care. 9(6):38-41, November 2014.

The longer a patient requires mechanical ventilation, the more likely it is that the patient will have a tracheostomy. Read about indications, benefits, potential complications, and nursing care associated with tracheostomies.

What is urine specific gravity?

Flasar, Cathy

Nursing Critical Care. 3(6):9, November 2008.

Measuring urine specific gravity is an easy and convenient way to gauge a patient's hydration status, as well as the functional ability of the kidneys.

Monitoring liver function

Schoch, Lisa; Whiteman, Kim

Nursing Critical Care. 3(5):5-6, September 2008.

Liver function tests are used to monitor liver function or to investigate specific signs and symptoms. Testing may be ordered before a patient starts therapy with a drug that's metabolized by the liver.

The importance of patient advocacy

Maine, Jillian

Nursing Critical Care. 10(4):48, July 2015.

As a student nurse, the author learned two powerful lessons: addressing concerns gets results, and you always need to be a voice for your patients, whether it's for their physical health or getting their meal requests right!

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: The nurse's role in patient care

Bergeron, Amanda; Holifield, Linda

Nursing Critical Care. 15(3):6-14, May 2020.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is increasingly being used with adult patients in respiratory failure or cardiac failure. ECMO is a complex treatment that requires diligent nursing care. Critical care nurses with the knowledge and ability to identify complications of ECMO can potentially reduce morbidity and mortality in these high-acuity patients.

Caring for the patient with schizophrenia

Iannaco, Dodi

Nursing Critical Care. 6(5):20-22, September 2011.

Caring for a patient with schizophrenia includes ensuring that prescribed medications are administered as directed. You'll also monitor for adverse drug reactions, in addition to addressing the medical problem that brought the patient to the ICU.

What is Brown-Séquard syndrome?

Franges, Ellie

Nursing Critical Care. 4(3):36-41, May 2009.

Also know as lateral cord syndrome, this type of spinal cord injury results from an incomplete transection of the cord. Find out about this uncommon condition and how to care for your patient.

Six steps to ABG analysis

Woodruff, David W.

Nursing Critical Care. 2(2):48-52, March 2007.

The arterial blood gas (ABG) analysis is a lab test that measures the acid-base balance and oxygenation of an arterial blood sample, usually obtained by direct arterial puncture. Nurses can learn valuable information about their patients by analyzing the ABG results.

Caring for a patient after coronary artery bypass graft surgery

Mullen-Fortino, Margaret; O'Brien, Noreen

Nursing Critical Care. 4(1):22-27, January 2009.

Every year, some 427,000 patients in the United States have coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. A patient undergoing CABG has complex healthcare needs. We'll outline your role in patient care by body system.

Music therapy: Nursing interventions with a beat

Crowley, Jessica

Nursing Critical Care. 8(2):15-17, March 2013.

Research has shown that older adults can benefit from music therapy and that this therapy doesn't need to be formal to be effective. This article focuses on interventions you can use to help patients.

Assessing the anion gap

Campana, Theresa

Nursing Critical Care. 4(2):15-17, March 2009.

Arterial blood gas results and serum electrolyte values let you assess the anion gap so you can diagnose and treat acid-base imbalances in critically ill patients.

Determining the level of evidence: Nonexperimental research designs

Glasofer, Amy; Townsend, Ann B.

Nursing Critical Care. 15(1):24-27, January 2020.

The next installment in this series provides critical care nurses with guidance to identify key features of the most-common nonexperimental research designs.

Rhythm self-quiz: Fast and deadly

Craig, Karen Jean

Nursing Critical Care. 8(1):5-6, January 2013.

Test your rhythm strip interpretation using a five-step analysis method. Identify the mystery dysrhythmia, and learn about its causes and management.

Basics of general anesthesia for the critical care nurse

Greenberg, Kendra; Morrison, Suzanne

Nursing Critical Care. 12(4):36-42, July 2017.

Critical care nurses play an integral role in the care of surgical patients. A more thorough understanding of what general anesthesia entails may enable the critical care nurse to tailor care to patients following surgery. This article describes the stages of general anesthesia, along with related medications, potential adverse reactions, and what nurses need to know to provide optimal care.

Acute respiratory failure and COPD: Recognition and care

Siela, Debra

Nursing Critical Care. 13(1):28-37, January 2018.

First, review the pathophysiology of COPD, signs and symptoms, and diagnosis. Then, learn how COPD exacerbations can lead to acute respiratory failure and hospitalization in these patients. A case study illustrates one patient's treatment plan.

Current sepsis research: What nurses need to know

Seckel, Maureen A.

Nursing Critical Care. 15(2):6-13, March 2020.

Despite recently published definitions and guidelines that provide a framework for the care of patients with sepsis, there is no strong consensus among experts about many aspects of sepsis screening or the assessment and care of patients with sepsis. This article highlights current evidence revealed by some recent significant research studies and discusses the implications for nursing practice.

Uncontrolled atrial fibrillation in adults

Wietbrock, Mary Ann

Nursing Critical Care. 10(4):6-11, July 2015.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a chaotic, rapid, irregular heartbeat that often causes poor perfusion. The atria can beat above 400 times/minute. Currently, 33.5 million people worldwide suffer from AF.

Interpreting and using the arterial blood gas analysis

Lian, Jin Xiong

Nursing Critical Care. 5(3):26-36, May 2010.

This article reviews the physiology behind ABGs and describes a 5-step approach to ABG interpretation. The 5-step approach is then applied to case studies that illustrate how to use ABGs to manage patients, particularly those on mechanical ventilation.

Fatigue and critical care nurses: Considerations for safety, health, and practice

Hobbs, Barbara B.; Wightman, Lori

Nursing Critical Care. 13(1):6-13, January 2018.

Physical fatigue is a major concern for critical care nurses. This article reviews how sleep loss affects fatigue, the dangers of shift work, safer scheduling practices, and countermeasures critical care nurses can take to avoid feeling fatigued on the unit. Resources to help address fatigue level and manage symptoms are also listed.

Prone positioning: Improving oxygenation in patients with ARDS

Kennison, Monica; Yost, Wilbert III

Nursing Critical Care. 4(3):42-46, May 2009.

Although not standard therapy, prone positioning can help recruit collapsed alveoli and improve oxygenation in patients with ARDS when mechanical ventilation doesn't help. Whether accomplished manually or mechanically, proning could turn things around for your patient.

Acute ischemic stroke: The golden hour

Anderson, Jane A.

Nursing Critical Care. 11(3):28-36, May 2016.

Acute ischemic stroke is a medical emergency resulting from an embolic or thrombotic occlusion of an intracranial artery. This article provides acute care nurses with a summary of recent updates on the rapid evaluation and workup for patient selection and treatment with I.V. fibrinolysis.

Pediatric nasogastric tube placement

Wathen, Beth; Peyton, Christine

Nursing Critical Care. 9(3):14-18, May 2014.

The lifesaving, blind procedures of nasogastric or orogastric tube placement performed at bedside on children aren't without risks.

Interpreting 12-Lead ECGs, part I

Goldich, Guy

Nursing Critical Care. 5(1):16-22, January 2010.

Take an in-depth look at how the ECG translates the heart's electrical activity into a waveform, and what that waveform tells you about your patient's condition. Part II, appearing in a future issue, will focus on recognizing myocardial infarction and dysrhythmias.

Managing a severe acute asthma exacerbation

Lian, Jin Xiong

Nursing Critical Care. 4(2):32-39, March 2009.

Caring for a patient with an acute asthma exacerbation can be challenging. Review the pathophysiology and management of a severe asthma exacerbation and learn how to intervene appropriately should the patient's clinical status deteriorate rapidly.

Electrolyte series: Sodium and chloride

Rowe, Amy

Nursing Critical Care. 13(3):20-27, May 2018.

The latest installment in our Electrolyte Series explores sodium and chloride. Learn the causes, signs and symptoms, and available treatments for the following imbalances: hypernatremia, hyponatremia, hyperchloremia, and hypochloremia.

Supporting your patient through holiday heart syndrome

Dirks, Joni

Nursing Critical Care. 4(1):29-30, January 2009.

Holiday heart syndrome is the term for an acute dysrhythmia, typically supraventricular tachycardia. Find out the causes for it and what treatment a patient should receive.

Evidence-based practice knowledge, attitudes, practices, and barriers: A nurse survey

Crable, Jane; Highfield, Martha E. Farrar; Patmon, Frances

Nursing Critical Care. 15(5):24-32, September 2020.

This study assessed nurses' knowledge, attitudes, practices, and perceived barriers related to evidence-based practice (EBP). Nurses reported highly positive attitudes toward EBP, and relatively strong EBP knowledge and practices, but they also identified several barriers. Removing barriers and building on strengths may close this knowledge-practice gap.

Critical care of a patient after CABG surgery

Mullen-Fortino, Margaret; O'Brien, Noreen; Jones, Maryann

Nursing Critical Care. 4(4):46-53, July 2009.

Your patient's just had coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. Learn more about your role in hemodynamic monitoring and mechanical ventilation in the crucial early postoperative hours.

Preventing hospital-acquired pressure ulcers

Cherry, Cecile; Moss, Jacqueline; Maloney, Martin; More

Nursing Critical Care. 7(5):28-34, September 2012.

Learn how one hospital used a collaborative approach to create a quality improvement program that reduced the incidence of hospital-acquired pressure adults in adult cardiac surgery patients to under 2%.

Assessing cardiovascular status

Mehta, Marjaana

Nursing Critical Care. 5(2):37-39, March 2010.

Perfect your cardiac assessment with this illustrated guide to assessing your patient's cardiovascular status through sight, sound, and touch.

Hyperglycemia management in patients with acute ischemic stroke

MacIntyre, Rebecca; Ciechanowski, Mary

Nursing Critical Care. 13(3):14-19, May 2018.

Hyperglycemia can lead to poor outcomes in patients with acute ischemic stroke. This article examines the latest glucose targets and management techniques, as well as nursing assessments and interventions for this patient population.

Dysrhythmia self-quiz: A dangerous slowing

Nursing Critical Care. 7(5):5-6, September 2012.

Test your rhythm strip interpretation using a five-step analysis method. Identify the mystery dysrhythmia and learn about its causes and management.

Postoperative pulmonary complications

Thanavaro, Joanne L.; Foner, Barbara J.

Nursing Critical Care. 11(1):38-47, January 2016.

Postoperative pulmonary complications are a major contributor to the overall risk of noncardiac surgery. They can cause deleterious clinical outcomes after surgery, may lead to serious health issues, and contribute to long-term mortality.

Preventing postoperative pneumonia

Pusey-Reid, Eleonor

Nursing Critical Care. 9(4):42-47, July 2014.

While all patients are at risk for postoperative pulmonary complications after anesthesia and surgery, a patient's lifestyle, for example being a smoker, increases their odds of developing infections including bronchitis, COPD, and pneumonia.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension

Leeper, Barbara; Powell, Brook

Nursing Critical Care. 14(3):14-22, May 2019.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a rare and progressive disease that leads to right ventricular failure and death. This article examines the pathophysiology, risk factors, management guidelines, pharmacologic therapies, and nursing considerations associated with this disease.

Prone positioning for patients with ARDS

Hudack, Michael E.

Nursing Critical Care. 7(2):20-24, March 2012.

Although not common in ICUs, proning may help improve oxygenation for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Find out about the science behind this technique and how to incorporate it into a plan of care.

Keeping pace: Understanding temporary transvenous cardiac pacing

Gibson, Jennifer A.

Nursing Critical Care. 9(5):20-27, September 2014.

A temporary, ventricular transvenous pacemaker (TVPM) is an invasive intervention option to manage unstable cardiac dysrhythmias. TVPMs can also be associated with serious risks.

Rhythm self-quiz: A dangerous slowing

Nursing Critical Care. 7(6):6-7, November 2012.

Test your rhythm strip interpretation using a five-step analysis method. Identify the mystery dysrhythmia and learn about its causes and management.

Acute acetaminophen toxicity in adults

Saccomano, Scott J.

Nursing Critical Care. 14(5):10-17, September 2019.

Although acetaminophen is a safe and effective analgesic and antipyretic agent when taken in the recommended dosage, an overdose can cause hepatotoxicity. This article reviews the stages of acetaminophen toxicity, recommended treatments, and nursing considerations, including patient education recommendations.

Tegmen tympani defect: A hidden danger

Vacca, Vincent M. Jr.

Nursing Critical Care. 10(4):43-47, July 2015.

A tegmen tympani defect is a tear in either the right or left side of the tegmen tympani, or the roof of the middle ear, which disrupts communication between the intracranial and extracranial sections. Any delay in diagnosis increases the risk of seizures, meningitis, encephalitis, or cerebral abscess.

Managing PICCs

Argame, Jerome

Nursing Critical Care. 9(2):48, March 2014.

Learn about using, maintaining and removing peripherally inserted central catheters or PICCs and who benefits most from using them and who should avoid them.

Hypertriglyceridemia-induced acute pancreatitis

Mitchell-Brown, Fay

Nursing Critical Care. 15(4):18-23, July 2020.

Hypertriglyceridemia-induced acute pancreatitis causes significant morbidity and mortality. It is important to promptly identify the underlying etiology and deliver the appropriate care to affected patients. Management includes supportive care and attempts to lower the serum triglyceride level. A case report of a patient treated successfully with an insulin infusion is presented.

Rhythm self-quiz: Beats and a pause

Nursing Critical Care. 7(4):6-7, July 2012.

Test your rhythm strip interpretation using a five-step analysis method. Identify the mystery dysrhythmia and learn about its causes and management.

Myasthenia gravis and myasthenic crisis

Vacca, Vincent M. Jr.

Nursing Critical Care. 12(5):38-46, September 2017.

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is the most commonly encountered autoimmune disease of the postsynaptic neuromuscular junction of skeletal muscles, affecting an estimated 700,000 individuals worldwide. Approximately 15% to 20% of patients with MG will experience a myasthenic crisis (MC), typically within 2 years of diagnosis. Nurses must be knowledgeable about this disease and prepared to assist with pharmacologic testing and/or MC to ensure maximum safety for patients with MG before, during, and after evaluation.

Burn injuries in the ICU: A case scenario approach

Simko, Lynn Coletta; Culleiton, Alicia L.

Nursing Critical Care. 12(2):12-22, March 2017.

This article uses a case scenario to review various types of burn injuries, burn pathophysiology, and what nurses need to know to provide comprehensive assessment and resuscitative care to patients with this type of injury.

Manage an acute upper GI bleed

Campbell, Amy M.

Nursing Critical Care. 2(4):9-13, July 2007.

Upper GI bleeds account for 300,000 to 350,000 hospital admissions annually, with a 10% mortality rate. What's the proper care for these patients?

Bispectral index monitoring in critical care: What's the science?

Olson, DaiWai M.; Gurram, Ananda R.; Zomorodi, Meg G.

Nursing Critical Care. 4(4):19-21, July 2009.

Initially developed as an adjunct to sedation monitoring for general anesthesia during surgery, bispectral index monitoring is increasingly being used in critical care. Find out how it can be used to reduce sedative use and decrease oversedation.

Time management for the nurse leader

Hackworth, Terry

Nursing Critical Care. 3(2):10-11, March 2008.

Creating an effective time management plan and utilizing time management techniques will enable nurses to keep the scales balanced in their favor.

Managing atrial septal defect in adults

Stewart, Diana; Casida, Jesus (Jessie)

Nursing Critical Care. 6(3):5-9, May 2011.

Atrial septal defect in adults can go unnoticed until patients are in their 40s. By recognizing the condition, you can help patients get appropriate care.

Effective handoff communication

Wheeler, Kim K.

Nursing Critical Care. 10(6):13-15, November 2015.

The frequency of patient handoffs increases the chance of losing critical information during care transition. The challenge is to develop and implement effective strategies for standardized handoffs across various healthcare settings.

Palliative care in a critical setting: A case study

Burdette-Taylor, Shelly R.

Nursing Critical Care. 2(5):64, September 2007.

Nurses are using more discretion when suggesting curtailing aggressive care for cure and instead are focusing on promoting aggressive care for comfort.

A new look at managing hyperkalemia in high-risk patients

Earl, Grace

Nursing Critical Care. 15(3):25-34, May 2020.

Two medications that bind potassium in the gastrointestinal tract are indicated for hyperkalemia management. Patiromer and sodium zirconium cyclosilicate have been studied in patients with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and heart failure. Recent studies have examined the role of potassium binders as maintenance therapy to control hyperkalemia in high-risk patients.

Strengthening your neurologic assessment techniques

Boudreaux, Arlene

Nursing Critical Care. 9(3):32-37, May 2014.

Ever have a patient who in your opinion is showing neurologic changes, but you're not sure how to evaluate her behavior and support your observations? Find out how to develop your neurologic assessment skills and improve your patient's care.

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