BACKGROUND: Nurses routinely "dangle" patients to evaluate and promote tolerance to changes in body position and to determine whether the level of activity should progress. Although dangling is a widespread nursing intervention, little research has been done on it, and little is known about how nurses dangle patients. OBJECTIVE: To describe dangling practices reported by critical care and acute care nurses. METHODS: A structured interview tool, developed for the study, was used to interview 51 experienced critical care and acute nurses from seven states about dangling practices. RESULTS: Most respondents said dangling was not routinely ordered and did not require a physician's order. The nurses described numerous strategies they used beforehand to promote tolerance to dangling, for example, premedicating for pain, and multiple interventions they used if patients did not seem to do well during dangling, for example, having patients take slow, deep breaths or move the feet and arms. Indicators of intolerance to dangling included marked changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and level of consciousness and patients' comments such as, "I can't stand it." Estimates of the duration of dangling varied widely, from 1 to 10 minutes; most respondents stated that duration varied "by feel" or depended on the patient's response. The most frequently mentioned personal rule about dangling was, "Get help if you're not sure how the patient will do." CONCLUSIONS: Nurses have developed numerous approaches to dangling acutely ill patients. These approaches should be described and tested to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes.
BACKGROUND: Despite the frequency of intrahospital transport of critically ill patients, little research has been done on this topic and the findings are contradictory. OBJECTIVES: To describe arterial oxygen saturation by pulse oximetry, heart rate, heart rhythm, and systolic blood pressure and equipment problems in critically ill, mechanically ventilated adults during intrahospital transport. METHODS: The sample consisted of 36 critically ill, mechanically ventilated adults who required transport out of the intensive care unit for diagnostic testing or procedures within the hospital. Arterial oxygen saturation, heart rate, heart rhythm, and systolic blood pressure were measured at baseline, at least every 5 minutes during transport to and from the test site and at the test site, and every 5 minutes for 15 minutes after return to the unit. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. RESULTS: Nineteen patients (53%) had clinically important changes in arterial oxygen saturation, heart rate, and/or systolic blood pressure. New cardiac arrhythmias developed in two patients. The clinically important changes occurred most frequently at the test/procedure site. Equipment problems such as monitor power failure and ventilator disconnection occurred during transport of 4 patients (11%). Total time out of ICU averaged 62 +/- 30 (range = 26 to 166) minutes. CONCLUSIONS: Transport outside the intensive care unit places the critically ill patient at additional risk. Although transport is often unavoidable, its risks versus benefits should be carefully and collaboratively evaluated for every patient prior to making the decision for transport.