Deakin University

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Nurse management of noradrenaline infusions in intensive care units: An observational study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-15, 02:12 authored by Stephanie Hunter, Elizabeth ManiasElizabeth Manias, Julie Considine
BACKGROUND: Intensive care nurse management of noradrenaline (norepinephrine) infusions is a common and essential clinical competency for patient haemodynamic support. Nurses titrate and wean noradrenaline infusions to a target blood pressure in a dynamic, high-risk, and unpredictable environment. Titration and weaning are complex interventions, and blood pressure goals are often variable. OBJECTIVES: The aim was to examine how nurses used blood pressure targets when escalating, weaning, and titrating noradrenaline in intensive care patients admitted for haemodynamic management and explore patient blood pressure responses to changes in noradrenaline doses. METHODS: In this naturalistic observational study, noradrenaline dose changes were classified as escalation, weaning, and titration changes and analysed to explore nursing practice. The study was undertaken in two adult medical/surgical intensive care units in Melbourne, Australia. Participants included intensive care nurses and patients who received noradrenaline infusions for haemodynamic support. RESULTS: Observations of 14 nurse-patient dyads provided 25 h of blood pressure and noradrenaline dose data. Patient participants received weight-adjusted maximum noradrenaline doses of between 0.06 mcg/kg/min and 0.87 mcg/kg/minute, with those in the escalation group receiving dose increases of up to 5 mcg to achieve blood pressure goals. During weaning, patients maintained or increased their blood pressure as noradrenaline doses were decreased. Nurses consistently maintained blood pressures at higher than target goals, and despite constant fluctuations, they only documented blood pressure readings hourly. CONCLUSIONS: Intensive care nurses managed noradrenaline to achieve mean arterial pressure targets that were variable and not evidence based. The disconnection between observed blood pressure fluctuations and nurse documentation of patient blood pressures was reflected in titration practices. Discrepancies between documented and actual blood pressures raised issues about data used by nurses and doctors to inform clinical practice on noradrenaline management.



Australian Critical Care












Elsevier BV