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Who, when and where? Identification of patients at risk of an in-hospital adverse event: Implications for nursing practice

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Patients who suffer an adverse event (AE) are more likely to die or suffer permanent disability. Many AEs are preventable. Nurses have long played a pivotal role in the prevention of AEs. Much of the literature to date pertains to the role of nurses in the prevention of AEs such as falls, pressure areas and deep vein thrombosis. Prominent risk factors for AEs are the presence of physiological abnormality, failure to recognize or correct physiological abnormality, advanced patient age and location of patient room. Ongoing physiological assessment of patients is a nursing responsibility and the assessment findings of nurses underpin many patient care decisions. The early recognition and correction of physiological abnormality can improve patient outcomes by reducing the incidence of AEs, making nurses’ ability to identify, interpret and act on physiological abnormality a fundamental factor in AE prediction and prevention. This paper will examine the role of nurses in AE prevention, using cardiac arrest as an example, from the perspective of physiological safety; that is, accurate physiological assessment and the early correction of physiological abnormality.

Keywords: adverse event; cardiac arrest; prevention; risk management; vital signs

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: February 1, 2004


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