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Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2012 Feb;9(1):40-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-6787.2011.00234.x. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Redesigning the ICU nursing discharge process: a quality improvement study.

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NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Nursing Interventions for Hospitalised Patients, Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice Innovation, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Gold Coast campus, Queensland, Australia.



To evaluate the impact of a redesigned intensive care unit (ICU) nursing discharge process on ICU discharge delay, hospital mortality, and ICU readmission within 72 hours.


A quality improvement study using a time series design and statistical process control analysis was conducted in one Australian general ICU. The primary outcome measure was hours of discharge delay per patient discharged alive per month, measured for 15 months prior to, and for 12 months after the redesigned process was implemented. The redesign process included appointing a change agent to facilitate process improvement, developing a patient handover sheet, requesting ward staff to nominate an estimated transfer time, and designing a daily ICU discharge alert sheet that included an expected date of discharge.


A total of 1,787 ICU discharges were included in this study, 1,001 in the 15 months before and 786 in the 12 months after the implementation of the new discharge processes. There was no difference in in-hospital mortality after discharge from ICU or ICU readmission within 72 hours during the study period. However, process improvement was demonstrated by a reduction in the average patient discharge delay time of 3.2 hours (from 4.6 hour baseline to 1.0 hours post-intervention).


Involving both ward and ICU staff in the redesign process may have contributed to a shared situational awareness of the problems, which led to more timely and effective ICU discharge processes. The use of a change agent, whose ongoing role involved follow-up of patients discharged from ICU, may have helped to embed the new process into practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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