The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has released the first authoritative document to define practice guidelines specifically for the emerging subspecialty of tele-ICU nursing.
According to AACN the "Tele-ICU Nursing Practice Guidelines" will bring consistency across new and existing tele-ICUs, serving as a benchmark for the growing number of registered nurses who practice within the tele-ICU model of care, also known as remote or virtual intensive care units.
These nurses monitor acutely and critically ill patients from a remote location using audiovisual technology and computer software to identify trends in patient data and instability, and communicate with patients and bedside nurses.
Tele-ICU nurses are a welcome addition to the team of healthcare professionals as they monitor and interact with patients and families, consult with bedside clinicians and help implement evidence-based practices.
"The care of patients who are acutely or critically ill has expanded beyond the traditional boundaries of the ICU," says AACN past president Connie Barden, MSN, RN, CCRN-E, CCNS, director of telehealth initiatives at Miami's Baptist Health South Florida, and co-chair of AACN's Tele-ICU Task Force.
"Having standardized definitions and practice guidelines benefits nurses and other clinicians who practice from a remote location, the patients they care for and the organizations they work for."
The document defines tele-ICU nursing and identifies the guidelines and the essential elements of those guidelines that will assist tele-ICU nurses, managers and program directors to evaluate their individual or unit practice.
Tele-ICUs have increased in number across the U.S., and currently more than 40 programs exist, reaching more than 250 hospitals and more than 10 percent of the ICU patients in the country.
Recognizing the impact of this subspecialty, AACN convened a Tele-ICU Task Force in 2010 composed of nurses in tele-ICU leadership positions from diverse organizational settings who have experience using a variety of technology vendors with varying practice models.
In addition to Barden, AACN Tele-ICU Task Force members are:
Co-chair: Theresa Davis, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Inova Health System, Falls Church, Va.
Wendy Deibert, BSN, RN, Mercy Health System, St. Louis
Phyllis Griffin, MSN, RN, Cone Health, Greensboro, N.C.
Carrie Hawkins, MS, RN, CCRN, of VA Eastern Colorado Health Care, Denver
Pat Herr, BSN, RN, Avera eICU Care, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Crystal Jenkins, MHI, RN, formerly of Banner Health System, Mesa, Ariz.
Mary McCarthy, BSN, RN, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, Maine
Carol Olff, MSN, RN, CCRN-E, NEA-BC, John Muir Health, Walnut Creek, Calif.
Board Liaison: Maureen Seckel, MSN, RN, APN, CCRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC, Christiana Care Health System, Newark, Del.
Staff Liaison: Mary Pat Aust, MS, RN, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
The guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF for free on AACN's website. A print version of the booklet can be purchased for $10 for AACN members and $25 for nonmembers from AACN's online bookstore.