BACKGROUND : Glycaemic control constitutes an important component in the management of critically ill patients. As such, all healthcare workers
involved in the management of critically ill patients need to ensure that it is achieved adequately. To avoid glucose variability and to maintain
normoglycaemia, evidence-based protocols are implemented to guide clinical care. However, it has been suggested that with the use of protocoldirected
therapy, protocol-practice gaps are common and therefore protocol adherence must be audited regularly. The aim of this study was to
evaluate adherence to the glucose control protocol by nurses in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit (ICU) at a tertiary academic hospital.
METHODS : A retrospective study involving the review of ICU charts of all post-cardiac surgery patients ≥16 years admitted to the cardiothoracic
ICU during March 2011. A convenience sampling method was used.
RESULTS : A total of 741 glucose readings for 22 patients were evaluated. The median (interquartile range) glucose reading was 7.8 mmol/L (6.7 -
9.3 mmol/L). Overall, 411 (55.5%) protocol violations were recorded and 629 (84.9%) of the total readings were abnormal. Protocol violations were
similar between the day and night staff; 188 (54.7%) and 223 (58.5%) were recorded, respectively (p=0.256). Of the readings, 464 (62.6%) were
conducted by ICU-trained nurses and 245 (33.2%) by non-ICU-trained nurses. There were fewer protocol violations recorded by the ICU-trained
nurses compared with the non-ICU-trained nurses, i.e. 53.3% and 63.7%, respectively (p<0.05).
CONCLUSION : Adherence to the glucose-control protocol was suboptimal. These results may suggest that the training and education of healthcare
workers in implementing protocols is an ongoing and dynamic process, and that there is a need for the regular evaluation of protocol adherence
in order to identify protocol-practice gaps.