Improving communication in a pediatric intensive care unit using daily patient goal sheets

J Crit Care. 2008 Jun;23(2):227-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2007.07.001. Epub 2007 Dec 18.


Purpose: The aim of the study was to determine if a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) daily patient goal sheet would improve communication between health care providers and decrease length of stay (LOS).

Materials and methods: We evaluated a daily patient goal sheet's impact on questionnaire-based measures of effectiveness of communication, nurses' knowledge of physicians in charge, and on LOS in the PICU.

Results: Four hundred nineteen questionnaires were completed by nurses and physicians before goal sheet implementation and 387 after implementation. Nurses and physicians perceived an improved understanding of patient care goals (P < .001), reported increased comfort in explaining patient care goals to parents (P < .001), and listed a higher number of patient care goals after goal sheet implementation (P < .01). Nurses identified the patient's attending physician and fellow with increased accuracy after goal sheet implementation (P < .001). Median PICU LOS was unchanged; however, mean LOS trended toward a reduction after goal sheet implementation (4.1 vs 3.7 days, P = .36). Seventy-six percent of respondents found the goal sheets helpful.

Conclusions: Using a PICU daily patient goal sheet can improve communication between health care providers, help nurses identify the in-charge physicians, and be helpful for patient care. By explicitly documenting patient care goals, there is enhanced clarity of patient care plans between health care providers.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Communication*
  • Documentation
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / organization & administration*
  • Length of Stay
  • Physician-Nurse Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires