Improving communication in the ICU using daily goals

J Crit Care. 2003 Jun;18(2):71-5. doi: 10.1053/jcrc.2003.50008.


Background: Clear communication is imperative if teams in any industry expect to make improvements. An estimated 85% of errors across industries result from communication failures.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of communication during patient care rounds in the intensive care unit (ICU) using a daily goals form.

Design: We conducted a prospective cohort study in collaboration with the Volunteer Hospital Association (VHA), Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), and Johns Hopkins Hospital's (JHH) 16-bed surgical oncology ICU. All patients admitted to the ICU were eligible. Main outcome variables were ICU length of stay (LOS) and percent of ICU residents and nurses who understood the goals of care for patients in the ICU. Baseline measurements were compared with measurements of understanding after implementation of a daily goals form.

Results: At baseline, less than 10% of residents and nurses understood the goals of care for the day. After implementing the daily goals form, greater than 95% of nurses and residents understood the goals of care for the day. After implementation of the daily goals form, ICU LOS decreased from a mean of 2.2 days to 1.1 days.

Conclusion: Implementing the daily goals form resulted in a significant improvement in the percent of residents and nurses who understood the goals of care for the day and a reduction in ICU LOS. The use of the daily goals form has broad applicability in acute care medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Communication*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospitals, University / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration*
  • Length of Stay
  • Maryland
  • Patient Care Management
  • Physician-Nurse Relations*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome