Examples of Evidence-Based Practice

what is evidence-based practice in nursing?

Nurses enrolled in a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program can expect to study evidence-based practice in nursing (EBP). These nurses learn to examine the latest research to determine the best courses of action for their patients. By relying on this scientific approach, nurses can improve the standard of patient care over time and introduce new procedures and techniques. Additionally, the evidence-based method can apply to managerial best practices in healthcare, like standardized dress codes that clearly identify RNs or plans to combat alarm fatigue among nurses.

What Is Evidence-Based Practice?

EBP is the use of clinical research to determine the best forms of patient care. By studying research, expert opinions, and other forms of data, nurses can identify ways to provide optimal patient care. The EBP systematic process includes the following steps:

  • Ask a question.
  • Search the latest research.
  • Incorporate clinical experience.
  • Accommodate patient preferences.
  • Apply the results.

When nurses look critically at existing methods, they can improve medical care. For instance, the treatment for acute muscle strain has changed over the years. Previously, nurses learned to ice certain injuries for the first 24 hours and then apply heat to increase blood flow. Now, evidence shows that only heat is beneficial.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program® requires hospitals to use evidence-based practice in nursing. Nurses need to document and demonstrate that they engage in the research, evaluation and use of evidence-based practice.

Evidence-Based Healthcare Decisions

EBP is not only for medical applications. Many healthcare systems have adopted EBP to create policies that address administrative and safety issues as well as patient satisfaction. It is important for organizations to use EBP when determining dress code policies or how to help nursing staff cope with alarm fatigue. The PICOT model is a technique healthcare professionals can use to frame a clinical question and find an answer:

P — Patient or problem.
I — Intervention or issue.
C — Comparison.
O — Outcome.
T — Time

The Benefits of a Dress Code

An important concern for many healthcare facilities is whether or not patients can identify nurses. Dress codes can also affect the spread of infection by restricting exposure to unsterile garments. Personal accessories can also affect patient perceptions — nurses need to appear professional.

Evidence-Based Dress Code

Healthcare organizations can turn to EBP to determine the appropriate dress code for their facilities. If the organization cannot find research to guide them, they can form a committee to conduct their own. Here are some questions the committee may pose:

  • What attire do patients perceive as professional?
  • How do patients recognize a nurse?
  • What do patients think nurses should wear?

Once it has developed a survey, the committee can distribute it to patients. Asking staff about their attire preferences and consulting with other healthcare systems can also yield useful data. Afterwards, the committee can evaluate the results to develop a dress code that is right for their facility.

Nurses and Alarm Fatigue

Nurses hear many alarms in the course of their work, which can lead to desensitization to sound. Many healthcare devices feature audible alarms, such as beds, infusion pumps, cardiac monitors, ventilators and mechanical vital sign machines. While these alarms are essential, research shows that 72 to 99 percent of alarms that go off do not indicate an emergency.

Unfortunately, patient deaths have occurred due to alarm fatigue; a famous case occurred in a Boston hospital. The patient’s alarm volume was turned off — possibly to stop the annoyance of an unneeded alarm — so nurses did not have any indication that the patient was in distress.

Evidence-Based Action Against Alarm Fatigue

Healthcare facilities need to commit to eliminating alarm fatigue. They can assemble a team to collect data on the cases of false alarms and response times. The following questions can guide their research:

  • What types of alarms do nurses rely on and in which areas?
  • What are the various levels of alarms (high, medium or low)?
  • What is the frequency of alarms?
  • What is the alarm response process?
  • What are the impediments to alarm response?

After gathering this information, nursing staff can create protocols to ensure suitable patient monitoring. Nurses should understand the various alarms in use throughout their healthcare facilities, so they can devise backup plans to guarantee alarm response.

Online RN to BSN Program Incorporates Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

Students who pursue a BSN at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in the online RN to BSN program complete a course in EBP. Research and Evidence-Based Practice emphasizes how to identify clinical questions, critically assess evidence and convert findings into nursing practice. Nursing students will also discuss ethical issues associated with healthcare research.

Nurses learn to seek the most current scientific evidence in order to provide excellent patient care. Evidence-based practice in nursing is crucial to successful patient care, and it is also a good tool for shaping policies, procedures and safety regulations. Thus, EBP continues to improve our healthcare systems both for patients and healthcare professionals.

Learn more about the UNM online RN to BSN program.


American Nurses Association: Asking the Question. (n.d.).

Cvach, M., MS, RN, CCRN. (2012, July/August). Monitor Alarm Fatigue: An Integrative Review.

Ensslin, P. A., MSN, MBA, BSN, RN-BC, CEN. (2014, November). Do you hear what I hear? Combating alarm fatigue.

Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses: Evidence-Based Practice. (n.d.).

Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research: Avoiding Confusion. (2010, February 2).

Medical Dictionary: PICO. (n.d.).

Sendelbach, S., RN, PhD, CCNS, & Funk, M., RN, PhD. (2013). Alarm Fatigue A Patient Safety Concern.

Sulanke, J., MS, RN, CNS, CNRN, & Shimp, K., RN, MSN, CCRN, CNML. (2015, October). What works: Implementing an evidence-based nursing dress code to enhance professional image.

West, M. M., PhD, RN, CNE, Wantz, D., DNP, RN, CCNS, NEA-BC, Campbell, P., MSN, RN, Rosler, G., MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Troutman, D., BSN, RN, CCRN, NE-BC, & Muthler, C., BSN, RN, MHA, NEA-BC. (2016, January). Contributing to a Quality Patient Experience: Applying Evidence Based Practice to Support Changes in Nursing Dress Code Policies.

Windel, L., RN. (2008, January). An evidence-based approach to creating a new nursing dress code.

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