Corrected QT (QTc) interval prolongation is a type of ventricular tachyarrhythmia. Recommendations for QTc interval monitoring for critical care nurses are limited and variable.
The intensive care unit at the study institution had no policies for QTc interval monitoring. A quality improvement initiative for identifying and monitoring at-risk patients was begun.
A QTc interval monitoring protocol was developed according to current recommendations for electrocardiogram monitoring and input from experts. Nursing staff received education on the QTc monitoring protocol. Numbers of patients with indications for monitoring were collected for 60 days before and 60 days after implementation. The rate of protocol adherence was collected for 60 days after implementation. Aknowledge assessment was administered to nurses at baseline, immediately after education, and 4 months after education.
Before protocol implementation, 537 patients had indications for monitoring. No QTc intervals were documented by nurses. After protocol implementation, 544 patients had indications for monitoring. Protocol adherence was higher during day shifts than during night shifts (45.3% and 38.4%, respectively). Of 170 documented QTc prolongation events, 26 (15%) were reported to physicians. Nurses’ knowledge significantly improved after education and was retained 4 months after education (correct responses to assessment questions: 59% at baseline, 96% immediately after education, and 86% at 4 months after education).
This QTc interval monitoring protocol improved nurses’ ability to identify and monitor patients with increased risk of QTc interval prolongation. Adherence was less than desired, suggesting that further protocol revisions are required.