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Documenting and communicating patient care: Are nursing care plans redundant?


Dr Bev O'connell or Ms Helen Myers, Nursing Practice Research Network, Q Block, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Verdun St, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia. Email: or


In Australia, nursing care plans have been the predominant means of documenting and communicating patient care. After 30 years of use, there is growing criticism from nurse clinicians and academics about the clinical utility of nursing care plans. A group of expert nurses at a major teaching hospital initiated a structured evaluation project that evaluated the clinical utility of nursing care plans and clinical protocols. The care plans and protocols were evaluated using a questionnaire that asked nurses to rate the care plans and clinical protocols on 10 measures, using a four-point Likert scale. The responses from the questionnaire indicated ongoing problems with the use of the care plans and a strong acceptance of the use of clinical protocols. Within this context, one could ask the question, are nursing care plans redundant?