Nursing and medical practice without appropriate evidence

Evidence-Based Practice

On occasion, some processes have crept into nursing and medical practice without appropriate evidence to back up their use. For example, consider tetanus shots. In the past, tetanus shots were given to patients who stepped on a rusty nail. It was assumed—at the time—that if the nail was rusty, it must have had some contact with the barnyard soil outside, which meant that it would be contaminated with bacteria. For a while this thinking made sense. As time went on, however, tetanus shots continued to be given to patients who cut themselves on rusty objects, regardless of where the rusty object had come from. And, of course, fewer and fewer people lived within close proximity to barnyards and associated contamination.

As this week’s examples highlight, not all practices that nurses engage in are tied to evidence. For this reason, clinical decision support (CDS) systems have been created. CDS systems support the decision-making tasks of nursing professionals. As the nurse inputs patient information into the CDS system, evidence-based content is provided back to the nurse. The nurse can then combine this content with their own nursing knowledge to diagnose and treat the patient. One of the most useful characteristics of CDS systems is that they are available during the point of care. No longer do nursing professionals have to consult thick research books; a great deal of information can be accessed with a few strategic clicks!.

In this Discussion, you continue to explore CDS systems. In addition, you investigate whether or not a health care practice with which you are familiar is grounded in evidence-based practice.

To prepare:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources and consider how nurses can determine if they are using evidence-based practices in patient care.
  • Select one health care practice (e.g., using alcohol swabs before giving an injection) with which you are familiar. Conduct research to determine if this practice is grounded in research.
  • Consider how a clinical decision support system provides evidence-based content to its users.
  • What are the benefits and challenges of using CDS systems? How can this assist nurses in providing evidence-based care to their patients?

ASSIGNMEN: WRITE a description of the health care practice you selected.  Explain whether the evidence you found supports or opposes the practice and whether you believe this process is grounded in evidence-based practice. Next, explain how informatics technologies, such as CDS systems, can facilitate nurses moving toward evidence-based practices. Justify your response.

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