While it still has critics, the evidence-based practice movement has made great headway in medicine and nursing. Nurses are encouraged to use the best available evidence to guide their practice and to form the foundation for institutional policies and procedures.

Evidence-based practice standards developed by professional organizations are implemented as sets of rules for nurses to follow as they care for populations of patients. For example, ventilated patients must have the heads of their beds raised to 30° and receive oral care at least every 4 hours in order to prevent pneumonia; patients with central venous catheters must be bathed daily with a chlorhexidine gluconate body wash in order to prevent line-related bloodstream infection. These kinds of evidence-based rules are put into place and then rates of ventilator–associated pneumonia, central venous catheter–associated blood stream infection, and nurses’ compliance with the rules are measured...

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