Clinical audit, congestive heart failure patient, evidence-based practice, fluid balance monitoring, fluid overload



  1. Yang, Shu-Hua


Objectives: This aim of this project was to promote best practice in fluid balance monitoring in congestive heart failure patients.


Introduction: Fluid overload or pulmonary/vascular congestion is a common clinical feature in patients with heart failure and is associated with adverse outcomes. Maintaining records of patients' fluid intake and output (I&O) has long been considered an important aspect of nursing care to assess hydration status. In clinical practice, a prevalence of incongruence between I&O results and clinical signs and symptoms has been noted. We postulate that this incongruence may be due to an inaccurate or non-comprehensive collection of fluid I&O and/or patients' and their families' inadequate recognition of the importance of I&O recording.


Methods: This implementation project was conducted in a cardiology ward of a medical hospital using the JBI Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System. Three audit criteria were utilized to represent best practice recommendations for fluid balance monitoring. A pre-implementation audit was conducted, followed by development of multiple interventions identified from a Getting Research into Practice analysis. Two post-implementation audits were conducted to determine the change in practice.


Results: The post-implementation audit data demonstrated significantly improved outcomes across the measured best practice criteria. Specifically, improvement in compliance was noted in: i) fluid balance charts being utilized in conjunction with physical assessment and electrolyte monitoring to assess the hydration status of a patient (from 58% to 100% compliance); ii) patient involvement in more accurate documentation (from 42% to 75% compliance); and iii) staff education in fluid balance monitoring and documentation (from 53% to 100% compliance).


Conclusion: Fluid record omission was reduced at the completion of the project secondary to an increased awareness of the fluid record omission standards among patients as well as physical assessment and fluid overload correlation among the nursing staff in the unit. The findings demonstrate how audits can be utilized to promote best practice in health care. Additionally, the data indicate that focused education and the provision of relevant resources can have an immediate and positive impact on clinical practice.