All the nurses in the cardiothoracic ICU are now certified in these advanced skills. The skills are reviewed with current staff members on a yearly basis during the annual evaluation. During their orientation to the cardiothoracic ICU, new staff nurses are certified by using the original process of attending an in-service training program and demonstrating the skill 3 times. The quality management department reviews medical records daily to detect complications. In addition, we (DRZ and MB) conducted a quality assurance review in which we monitored 20 patients being extubated and having PA catheters removed by nurses. No complications were noted during either review. The institution has seen improvements in quality of care and earlier discharge from the hospital. With earlier removal of endotracheal tubes and PA catheters, patients are more comfortable and their rehabilitation can be advanced sooner. Comparison of the mean length of stay for patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft in March 1995 with the mean length of stay for such patients in March 1998 showed a 50.6% decrease, from 14.94 days to 7.38 days. These advanced skills have provided an increased autonomy for the nurses and have benefited the patients undergoing cardiac surgery in our institution.

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