BACKGROUND: Coronary precautions were common when coronary care units were instituted in the 1960s. However, research has failed to provide evidence of the validity of most of these restrictions. Only the avoidance of the Valsalva maneuver is clearly indicated as a universal precaution in patients who have experienced acute myocardial infarction. OBJECTIVES: To determine if nurses continue to restrict iced and hot fluids, caffeine, rectal temperature measurement, and vigorous back rubs, and to feed and mandate bedrest for acute myocardial infarction patients. METHODS: Survey techniques were used to describe practice patterns of nurses working in hospitals across the United States. Two sampling methods were used to access a random sample. The survey was mailed to members of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and nonmembers working in a hospital accredited by the American Hospital Association and with an intensive care unit. RESULTS: Of the 2549 mailed surveys, 882 were returned with usable data (34.8% response rate). Iced (28.1%) and hot (8.7%) fluids continued to be restricted by nurses. Most (85.6%) restricted stimulant beverages such as coffee. Rectal temperature measurement was avoided by 55.7%, and only 73.3% taught avoidance of the Valsalva maneuver. In terms of rest, 15.6% reported avoiding vigorous back rubs, 8.4% still fed patients, and 33.8% offered bedpans to pain-free patients on the first day after admission. A complete bedbath was offered by 19.8% of nurses to stable, pain-free patients even a day after admission. CONCLUSIONS: The data supporting liberalization of coronary precautions have not been adequately disseminated.

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