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Technology in the ICU; the nurses' point of view


The objective of this study is to gain a view on how intensive care staff thinks of technology in the ICU. The study investigates the acceptance of technology by intensive care nurses and tries to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the equipment in use in ICUs at this moment.


After reviewing some earlier publicised studies on this topic, an online survey was set up to investigate the nurse's view on technology in the ICU. As this survey was set to reach as many respondents from Flemish hospitals, it was set up in Dutch.


The survey was taken by 116 ICU staff members from 12 Flemish hospitals, including three academic hospitals, with ages ranging from 22 to 58 years. The working experience ranges from <1 year to 38 years. Educational records vary from bachelor nursing degrees to specialized nurses and master degrees. Some interesting results of the survey were the following: 91% of the respondents perceived an increase of technology in the ICU during the time they were working in the unit. Sixty-six percent find that the complexity of these technological devices is increasing. Only 62% think that the devices they have to work with are rather user-friendly. Seventy-seven percent think that the technological evolution of the ICU gives them a better view on the patients status. Twenty-five percent say it gives them a better overview on nursing tasks. On the other hand, 22% disagree with this statement and thinks that the technological evolution of the ICU complicates this overview. Even more alarming is the fact that 41% of the respondents say that they are kept from giving essential care to the patient because they have to control and adjust too many devices.


The results of the survey imply that there is much room for improvement of the technological equipment and processes in an ICU. Technology seems to have a duality between its advantages and disadvantages. For example, this survey made clear that some devices are too complicated, so the advantage they create by giving good feedback on the patients status results in the disadvantage that too much attention is kept away from the patient because of the complexity of the device and the time spent to set it up.


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Verhulst, O. Technology in the ICU; the nurses' point of view. Crit Care 12 (Suppl 2), P528 (2008).

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