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Critical thinking involves the ability to take results of an assessment and plan accordingly. It is being able to foresee possible problems and preventing negative outcomes. For example, in the NICU, evidence has proven that a baby whose temperature drops is on the verge of getting sick. A low temperature is usually the first indicator that there may be a problem. We use critical thinking to immediately choose not to feed the baby and report it to the doctor. If the temperature cannot come up, we decide not to feed the baby due to lack of blood flow to the intestines. Thus, preventing further complications.
Critical thinking is looking beyond what you have in front of you when making decisions for your patient’s care, and using evidence-based practice for continuity of care. It’s important to know what works and what doesn’t in patient care. So we can continue to make good choices that will decrease patient stays at hospitals, and increase quality of life.
Evidence-based practice is on-going and research is never-ending. It’s crucial to continue to learn from mistakes and what is the best/safest route to care for our patients.