Nurses' ACLS, BLS Skills Erode Quickly, Study Confirms

New research again confirms that nurses' skill at performing advanced cardiac life support skills decline fast and their basic life support skill performance also drops, but not as quickly. Researchers from the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio said nurses in their study retained theoretical knowledge, however. They published their results in this month's issue of the journal Resuscitation (vol. 78, issue 1, copyright Elsevier Ireland Ltd).

Researchers Kimberly K. Smith, Darlene Gilcreast, and Karen Pierce used American Heart Association 2000 ACLS and BLS evaluation tools in a simulated testing environment, with 133 nurses taking written and initial, post-training, and final performance tests that used scenarios requiring performance of advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) or basic life support (BLS) skills. Final testing was done by random assignment at three, six, nine, or 12 months.

They reported 63 percent passed a BLS skills test at three months and 58 percent passed at 12 months. Only 30 percent of participants passed the ACLS skills test at three months and just 14 percent at 12 months. These findings are similar to prior results done during more than a decade of research, they wrote. The authors recommend that more frequent refresher training be provided.

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