Background and Objectives Hypoxic–ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a major challenge in term infants with a high risk of cerebral sequelae. Several studies with therapeutic hypothermia (TH) have indicated a reduction in neurological sequelae. Thus, our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) decided to implement TH as a part the treatment for HIE. TH can be challenging for the neonatal nurse and requires new knowledge in neonatal physiology, pharmacology and procedures. To our knowledge there are no nursing guidelines for using TH. We therefore developed nursing guidelines to facilitate nursing procedures and assessment.
Method The nurses were introduced to a teaching plan in order to improve clinical knowledge of TH. We established a resource group with both physicans and nurses, who were responsible for teaching and support during the implementation period. The guidelines were based on recent scientific studies, both experimental and clinical, approved by the NICU authorities.
Results Guidelines were available and presented to the nurses before the start period. Hands-on training with the special equipment (Criticool System(R)) was completed. Thus, the nurses were well informed about appropriate actions during the cooling and rewarming period. Uniform parent information was given. So far 20 infants have been treated with TH. The overall experience is positive with enthusiastic nurses.
Conclusion Careful planning and development of practical guidelines for nursing procedures starting TH have contributed to professionalism and the positive attitude of the nursing staff.
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