RCNi’s new digital resource will support nurses in making clinical decisions

Interactive tool offers fast, point-of-care access to latest guidance and best-practice information

Interactive tool offers fast, point-of-care access to latest guidance and best-practice information

Picture: iStock

Delivering efficient and high-quality care is a challenge for many organisations and their senior nurses, especially when resources are stretched and staff are under pressure. 

Whatever the circumstances in which care is delivered, extra support in clinical decision-making is welcome. And now a new tool that can help focus clinical thinking when nurses are assessing and treating patients is available.

RCNi Decision Support is an interactive, point-of-care resource that offers nurses fast and easy access to current guidance and best-practice information.

It covers more than 100 peer-reviewed topics selected according to what is most effective at improving patient safety and care standards.

Richard Hackett
Picture: David Gee

Support and guidance

Senior nurse editor Richard Hatchett explains that each topic included in the tool highlights decisions that need to be made early when a nurse is undertaking assessment or treatment. 

‘RCNi Decision Support does this by posing questions relating to patient observations,’ he says. ‘It then provides guidance on how to proceed based on the answers given by the nurse.’

Red flags are included to ensure immediate action and escalation when appropriate. 

'Because it is designed by nurses for nurses, it ensures that the approach to the decision-making process is grounded in the values and core skills of the nursing profession’

Barry Quinn, Barts Health NHS Trust and Nursing Management

Dr Hatchett stresses that the tool does not make decisions for nurses. Rather, it supports and guides them through the process by providing the information they need at every step.

He says: ‘RCNi Decision Support has been designed to help standardise best practice within your organisation. In doing so, it promotes a consistency in the standard of care by ensuring all staff are following guidance that is evidence based and up to date.’

Barry Quinn

Critical thinking

Director of nursing for cancer and palliative care at Barts Health NHS Trust, London, and consultant editor of Nursing Management Barry Quinn says: ‘This is an exciting time, full of opportunity and development. But, within the increasing complexity of health and social care today, nurses are required to deliver the core skills of nursing care alongside an increasing need to develop technical clinical skills.’

He adds: ‘RCNi Decision Support is a practical evidence-based tool to support nursing colleagues in a vast range of practices and settings. The value of the support tool is that it guides the individual nurse to apply critical thinking to the clinical decision-making process.

‘All the content is based on evidence and we’ve asked the writers to use the latest best-practice guidelines’

Richard Hatchett, RCNi

‘And, because it is designed by nurses for nurses, it ensures that the approach to the decision-making process is grounded in the values and core skills of the nursing profession.’

Topics and specialisms

Topics covered by the resource fall into 23 specialisms (see Specialisms, below), ranging from cardiac care to mental health and diabetes to resuscitation, with wide applicability across the nursing workforce in acute and community settings. Each topic has been written by an expert in the relevant field of nursing, and the content has undergone rigorous internal and external peer review.

‘All the content is based on evidence,’ says Dr Hatchett. ‘And we’ve asked the writers to use the latest best-practice guidelines.’

Each topic will be reviewed regularly but, if in the meantime significant change to existing guidance or evidence occurs, content will be updated. 

Dr Hatchett says that another advantage of RCNi Decision Support is that it can be customised in accordance with local policies and procedures. 

‘So, with catheterisation, for example, a note can be added saying that in this care provider we use this particular type of catheter,' he says. 'This helps shape the decision pathway according to what goes on in practice locally.’

The tool can also be customised to allow users to download locally relevant policy documents or procedures without having to interrupt or suspend patient care.

Functionality and ease of use

RCNi Decision Support is designed to be intuitive and easy to use. It can be accessed via PC, tablet or mobile phone, but will be available through an app if there is no internet connection. The training required to allow staff to use the tool is minimal.

'It’s great to have a digital resource at hand to guide nurses when they need help'

Caroline Shuldham, RCNi

A glossary, list of acronyms and bibliography offer additional information and material for nurses with less experience of a particular topic. To help save time and improve decision making, various nursing calculators and toolkits, such as the National Early Warning Score and the Glasgow Coma Score, are included in the platform.

The aim of RCNi Decision Support is to help senior nurses use their time more effectively by providing junior staff and nurses new to a field of care with the knowledge to make decisions autonomously yet with clear instructions about when to escalate.  

Caroline Shuldham
Picture: David Gee

Consistency of care

But there are other ways in which RCNi Decision Support can prove advantageous to an organisation, not least as a means of providing consistency in patient care (see Why use RCNi Decision Support? below). 

Chair of the RCNi editorial advisory board Caroline Shuldham says: ‘Nurses make multiple clinical decisions every day, and many are complex and central to patients’ well-being, so it’s great to have a digital resource at hand to guide nurses when they need help.’

‘I’m delighted that the RCNi Decision Support tool is available.' 


Access RCNi Decision Support here

Why use RCNi Decision Support?

RCNi Decision Support can benefit your organisation by:

  • Standardising nursing practice Every nurse can provide the same exceptional quality of care in every setting
  • Improving patient experience, safety and outcomes Clinical decisions are founded on evidence-based information underpinned by current guidance and delivered at the point of care
  • Saving time Assessment is quicker and time is not wasted on unreliable internet searches
  • Saving money The cost of unnecessary and expensive tests and investigations is avoided
  • Reducing errors Helps to reduce mistakes by ensuring compliance with national guidelines
  • Staff engagement Empowers workers to make clinical decisions autonomously
  • Analysis of decisions Allows review of decisions made for cross-referencing later with patient records, if required
  • Boosting confidence Increases nurses’ confidence to make clinical decisions in unfamiliar settings or situations


RCNi Decision Support covers more than 100 topics across 23 specialisms, with wide applicability across the workforce in general and community settings. 

The 23 specialisms are:

  1. Bowel and kidney
  2. Cardiac
  3. Children
  4. Communication
  5. Critical care
  6. Diabetes
  7. Endocrine
  8. First aid
  9. General
  10. Infection control
  11. Intravenous therapy
  12. Medicines management
  13. Mental health
  14. Neurology
  15. Nutrition
  16. Pain
  17. Pharmacology
  18. Pre and post pregnancy
  19. Respiratory
  20. Resuscitation
  21. Safeguarding
  22. Venous
  23. Wound care

This article is for subscribers only