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Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 2000 Aug;16(4):209-20.

Expert critical care nurses' use of pulmonary artery pressure monitoring.

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Staff Development Unit, University of Canberra, ACT, Australia.


Critical care nurses make numerous complex decisions during their day-to-day practice. General themes in previous decision-making studies have included the influence of knowledge and previous experience, the increasing complexity of decisions made and the change in decision-making processes used as the nurse progresses from a novice to an expert practitioner. This paper reports one component of a study which used a concept attainment framework to determine what data were used by eight expert critical care nurses in relation to haemodynamic monitoring. Results indicated that pulmonary artery pressure monitoring was used to attain the concepts of preload, cardiac output and blood pressure. In addition, participants used few clinical assessment attributes, but collected a large number of attributes which they arranged around three to five central concepts and took a broad view of haemodynamic assessment. One participant did not display many of the decision-making features normally associated with an expert practitioner. In conclusion, expert critical care nurses process an immense amount of data in a short space of time. However, they may not use all available data. Evidence suggests not all nurses who practise in the field for a lengthy period reach the level of an expert.

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