Implementing and sustaining evidence-based nursing practice to reduce pediatric cardiopulmonary arrest

West J Nurs Res. 2011 Apr;33(3):443-56. doi: 10.1177/0193945910379585. Epub 2010 Oct 4.


Rapid response teams (RRTs) improve outcomes for patients through early escalation of care. However, subtle signs of clinical deterioration in children may not be consistently recognized by the bedside acute care nurse and therefore the RRT may not be activated. The Pediatric Early Warning Score (PEWS), an evidence-based tool, provides nurses with a mechanism for early detection using quantitative data. We describe our process and outcomes of implementing and sustaining the use of PEWS at the unit and organizational level using the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology for performance improvement. Our outcome data indicate that cardiopulmonary arrests were reduced by 31% at the pilot unit level and subsequently 23.4% at the organizational level. Data also suggest that bedside nurses effectively escalated patient care needs without activating RRTs (19.4% reduction in RRT activations after PEWS implementation). Strategies to sustain the positive outcomes of PEWS at the unit and organizational levels are also described.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Evidence-Based Nursing*
  • Heart Arrest / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects