Aim: A study to explore the impact of implementing a bowel management protocol in a tertiary referral intensive care unit (ICU) in the West of Scotland.
Methods: A three phase study was implemented. Phase 1 – a baseline audit reviewing 26 patients' medical notes and a baseline focus group reviewing the multidisciplinary team's (MDT's) opinions with regard to bowel care management in the ICU. Phase 2 – the implementation of a protocol, updated bowel care chart and education sessions for members of the MDT. Phase 3 – an end of study audit reviewing 27 patients' notes after the implementation of phase 2. Additionally, a further focus group examined the MDT's experiences of the protocol in clinical practice.
Results and Findings: During the phase 1 data collection period, it was evident that there was a haphazard approach to bowel care in the ICU, resulting in poor bowel care documentation and a high incidence of constipation and diarrhoea days. After the interventions of phase 2, bowel care documentation days increased by 13% (p = 0·0003), constipation incidence decreased by 20·7% (p = 0·13) and diarrhoea days reduced by 15·2% (p = 0·18).
Conclusion: Although further evaluation is planned, the protocol implemented in this particular study appears to be a useful tool for the delivery of bowel care in the ICU.
Relevance to Clinical Practice: Ensuring appropriate and timely bowel care in the ICU has major implications for the critically ill patients.