AACN issues guidelines for tele-ICU nursing

(Nurse.com) The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses has released practice guidelines for the emerging subspecialty of tele-ICU nursing.

“AACN Tele-ICU Nursing Practice Guidelines” was written to bring consistency across new and existing tele-ICUs, and serve as a benchmark for the growing number of RNs who practice within the tele-ICU model of care, also known as remote or virtual ICUs. 

These nurses monitor acutely and critically ill patients from a remote location, using audiovisual technology and computer software to identify trends in patient data and instability, and communicate with patients and bedside nurses. Tele-ICU nurses monitor and interact with patients and families, consult with bedside clinicians and help implement evidence-based practices.

“The care of patients who are acutely or critically ill has expanded beyond the traditional boundaries of the ICU,” AACN past president Connie Barden, RN, MSN, CCRN-E, CCNS, director of telehealth initiatives at Miami’s Baptist Health South Florida in Miami and co-chair of the AACN’s Tele-ICU Task Force, said in a news release.

“Having standardized definitions and practice guidelines benefits nurses and other clinicians who practice from a remote location, the patients they care for and the organizations they work for.”

The document defines tele-ICU nursing and identifies the guidelines and the essential elements of those guidelines that will assist tele-ICU nurses, managers and program directors to evaluate their individual or unit practice.

Tele-ICUs have increased in number across the United States. More than 40 programs exist in the United States, reaching more than 250 hospitals and more than 10% of the ICU patients in the country, according to the news release.

Recognizing the impact of this subspecialty, the AACN convened a Tele-ICU Task Force in 2010, composed of nurses in tele-ICU leadership positions from diverse organizational settings who have experience using a variety of technology vendors with varying practice models.