Implementation and utilisation of Australian critical care practice standards: What do we know?

Aust Crit Care. 2023 May 18;S1036-7314(23)00035-8. doi: 10.1016/j.aucc.2023.02.007. Online ahead of print.


Background: The Australian College of Critical Care Nurses published the third edition of practice standards (PSs) for specialist critical care nurses in 2015. Higher-education providers currently use these standards to inform critical care curricula; however, how critical care nurses perceive and use PSs in clinical practice is unknown.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to explore critical care nurses' perceptions about the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses PS for specialty critical care nursing, to understand how the PSs are used in clinical practice, and what opportunities exist to support their implementation.

Methods: An exploratory qualitative descriptive design was used. A purposive sampling strategy was used, with 12 critical care specialist nurses consenting to participate in semistructured interviews. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed thematically using an inductive coding approach.

Findings: Three main themes were identified: (i) lack of awareness of the PS; (ii) minimal to no utilisation of the PS in clinical practice and the challenges contributing to this; and (iii) improving the implementation and utilisation of the PS in clinical practice.

Conclusions: There is a significant lack of awareness and utilisation of the PS in clinical practice. To overcome this, increasing recognition, endorsement, and valuation of the PSs to stakeholders at an individual, health service, and legislative level are suggested. Further research is required to establish relevance of the PS in clinical practice and understand how clinicians use the PS to promote and develop critical care nursing.

Keywords: Australia; Critical care; Critical care nurse; Implementation; Intensive care; Practice standards; Utilisation.