Therapeutic hypothermia has become a widely accepted intervention that is improving neurological outcomes following return of spontaneous circulation after cardiac arrest. This intervention is highly complex but infrequently used, and prompt implementation of the many steps involved, especially achieving the target body temperature, can be difficult. A checklist was introduced to guide nurses in implementing the therapeutic hypothermia protocol during the different phases of the intervention (initiation, maintenance, rewarming, and normothermia) in an intensive care unit. An interprofessional committee began by developing the protocol, a template for an order set, and a shivering algorithm. At first, implementation of the protocol was inconsistent, and a lack of clarity and urgency in managing patients during the different phases of the protocol was apparent. The nursing checklist has provided all of the intensive care nurses with an easy-to-follow reference to facilitate compliance with the required steps in the protocol for therapeutic hypothermia. Observations of practice and feedback from nursing staff in all units confirm the utility of the checklist. Use of the checklist has helped reduce the time from admission to the unit to reaching the target temperature and the time from admission to continuous electroencephalographic monitoring in the cardiac intensive care unit. Evaluation of patients’ outcomes as related to compliance with the protocol interventions is ongoing.

You do not currently have access to this content.