Technology's Impact on Critical Care Nursing

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    As a husband wife team of CRNA's, probably exposed to more Critical Care Nursing than most. Being in nursing x 40 years & advanced practice as a CRNA x 33 years, I've seen many changes in Critical Care Nursing yielding much better patient care as advanced knowledge developed & placed into practice with the aid of technology.

    Technology's Impact on Critical Care Nursing

    As technology touches everyone in their daily life, it's particularly been helpful in our nursing careers. It's difficult to recall our Doctors & other staffs without cell phones, pagers & beepers but once there was a time without the buzz of these bodily attachements. As certainly as those whom came before us thought the telephone was one of the greatest inventions, today cell phones are taking over land lines & medical staffs are afforded more freedom in movement & more easily accessible @ a moment's notice & while mobile. The impact of a faster response time allowed by these communication devices to critical care nursing decisions is that it saves time & lives. When time matters most & a life hangs in the balance, smart communication via technology can make all the difference. As facilities incorporate more & more computers into their network, computers @ working stations are more accessible to staffs for use.

    Computers have saved time & tons of paper as no longer do policy & procedure books need be printed as most facilities place them on their computers for staffs to readily review. Scheduled events, memos, safety issues, specific facility publications, e mail boxes have become everyday communications for facility staffs to better enhance the critical care nursing experience. Via computers, staffs have world wide access to information & pharmacological information is easily obtained, readily available just by several mouse clicks on the computers. Computers make it possible to have the most updated pharmacological guidelines & drug reviews, black box warnings as opposed to printed & dated material. As more & more new drugs are introduced each year & combination drugs, it's nearly impossible to know all drugs, all things of drugs & computers have become as life savers to aid in our critical care nursing & medical professions.

    Technology included replacing the glass thermometers via digital thermometers resulting in quicker & more accurate, sanitary & safer practice. Technology introduced the stick & peel skin thermometers now used in all general anesthetic cases per policy & procedures & can detect rapid rise in patient temperatures as related to Malignant Hyperpyrexia Syndrome, a very critical care nursing situation. More recently the Bispectoral Index Monitors or BIS was developed through technological advances for monitoring consciousness levels as an aid to delivery of anesthesia.

    CAT Scans, MRI's, multiple other scans were made possible via technology that detect & save lives & without them, critical care nursing would not be where it is today as these opened up new jobs & position opportunities to fulfill the need. These technological advances brought about dramatic changes in treatments, care & understanding disease process & progression. Anyone having taken ACLS through multiple years has viewed major changes to protocols of treatments as results of incresed knowledge gained through scans, research & data collections. Certainly critical care nursing became more aware of the urgency of treatment to stroke & cardiac episodes as we were introduced to patient survival rates as relating to the golden minutes ticking as a window of opportunity for increased survival as survival becomes less & less with time. As example, our critical care nursing went from rotating tourniquets in an earlier era to administering clot-bursting drugs as soon as possible in stroke occurence. Critical care nursing viewed the advent of various stents come into being replacing many open heart procedures as well as other open vascular procedures. Chemoo thereapy with new agents & delivery systems via technology is able to save many more lives than ever before since the dawn of mankind & cancers, changing critical care nursing.
    New, better designed insulins become available, new testing monitors as well as wearable insulin pumps for a more continuous delivery of insulin has changed countless numbers of diabetics lives & well being through technology.

    Technology introduced cautery for instantly controlling blood loss during surgical procedures as opposed to a time consuming tying of sutures around each blood vessel. Technology advances in the surgical arena yielded much more, less invasive sophisticated surgical instrumentation resulting in more & more procedures being done with laparoscopy & robotics, resulting in small puncture sites as opposed to major surgical incisions. Many surgical procedures once required a lengthy stay in a hospital setting now can easily be accomplished via an out patient surgical facility freeing up hospital beds for more acute critical care nursing patients.

    Anesthesia techniques has undergone a complete metamorhous from Cival War times of sucking whiskey down yielding a more pain free state to more & more technological state of the art anesthesia delivery systems. Ttoday anesthetics are more pleasing, safer with exact delivery monitored via critical monitors & no longer is an anesthesia machine just a simple breathing circuit delivery system of years ago. Walk into any operating room suite & you'll most likely see an anesthesia machine fully loaded with monitors & gadgets having a price tag far exceeding most cars on our highway.

    Critical care nursing was introduced to the world of disposables equipment & supplies, saving time, effort, offering sterility by just opening uppackaging proving most valuable when seconds count in the most critical nursing care situations. Disposable were readily accepted by critical care nursing & the medical profession as being time savers, safer with dated packaging, readily accessible & more satifactory pleasing to patients.

    Palm computers & smart phones now replace multiple paper small notebooks carried in the pockets of critical care nursing personal as being less cumbersome, easier to use with daily updating possible. Multiple pharmacological programs are available for synchronizing to these devices for a fee from such programs as Epocrates featuring new drugs, medical tables including ACLS, PALLS, Basic CPR, etc., mobile CME, medical mathmatics, DocMemos, corticosteroid converters, drip rates, temperature conversions, CardioMath, bone health, INR calculators, depression asscessment, HTN reference, staging reference - as valuable knowledge within a single easily used pocket device.

    Without a doubt technology has changed our daily lives just within the last 40 years & has impacted our careers in critical care nursing. Our critical care nursing has benefited in faster communications, faster service, improved standards of care, advanced care devices, improved safety, offered quality improvments, saved many more lifes & helped many more patients than once even imaginable.

    In summary, whatever technology brings, you can be certain of changes to our critical care nursing & our practice. Probably no other single factor has opened up new doors, new horizions & brought forth new careers than technology in critical care nursing. Although paper forms will always have a place in our critical care nursing, technology has made a dramatic cut back & will continue to do so as we move forward in this computer & wireless oriented world. Our world may never become disease free but as critical care nursing, we will always do our best to incorporate knowledge, new skills gained through research & data made possible through technology for better patient care. Indeed critical care nursing & technology go hand in hand & the benefits surround us to embrace as educational to stay abreast of new changes coming down the pipes to our critical care nursing careers.

    Last edit by Joe V on Apr 22, '16
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  3. by   saga
    Great article!!!!
  4. by   Brian
    Thanks for sharing the article, I could not agree more, technology is a huge part of healthcare and it's success.

    I'd just like to see more and more technology instituted in healthcare facilities. There are still many facilities in the dark ages.

    The rapid rate of new technology coming out, it is tough for even the most tech savvy institutions to stay on top of it all.
  5. by   Cheinemeyer
    As an ER nurse for 6 years I began writing a program to take the place of shift report sheets, "nurse brains", post-its, scratch paper, etc. what features would interest you as a nurse in any specialty?