University of Technology Sydney

96324 Nursing - Sensitive Indicators in Acute Care

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject is designed to provide a contemporary, evidence-based framework for improving the quality of acute care nursing, reflecting pre-determined nursing sensitive indicators. The subject will strengthen students’ ability to critique their individual and workplace practices, in light of what is considered as 'best practice' in acute care nursing. Students will consider potential improvements to the practice of acute care nursing, at both individual and systemic levels, and develop strategies to integrate these.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Examine the role, responsibilities and impact of the nurse in providing safe, quality care for acutely ill patients
B. Integrate and apply knowledge of pathophysiological processes for people experiencing common acute health problems
C. Critically evaluate current approaches to nursing management of acutely unwell patients
D. Appraise research evidence to develop and improve nursing practice for the prevention of hospital-acquired complications and optimal patient outcomes
E. Analyse the impact of systems, processes and contemporary acute care management on health outcomes

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Identify, synthesise, evaluate and apply the best available evidence for translation into practice to achieve optimal health outcomes (1.1)
  • Demonstrate comprehensive clinical judgement and clinical reasoning that is based on evidence and reflects relevant professional codes and guidelines (1.2)
  • Analyse approaches for building own capacity for leadership and that of the interdisciplinary health workforce and health care consumers (2.1)
  • Demonstrates ability to collaborate and influence evidence-based change and transformation for achieving optimal health care outcomes (2.2)
  • Justify and promote social justice principles to ensure efficient use of resources and equity of access to health care (3.1)
  • Synthesise evidence-based principles of quality and safety to achieve optimal health outcomes (3.2)
  • Consistently adopt a respectful, empathic and person-centred approach that engages and empowers health care consumers and families/significant others (4.1)
  • Demonstrate a high level of verbal, non-verbal, written, digital and other technological communication skills (4.2)
  • Demonstrate compassionate, empathic, ethical and collaborative clinical practice (5.2)
  • Practise and promote the principles of self-care that build resilience and support personal and team wellbeing (5.3)

Teaching and learning strategies

Orientation activities
Preparation for the session - You are expected to undertake activities during orientation week. These activities are designed to introduce you to the subject and your peers, and will assist you to prepare for the subject's assessment tasks.

Independent learning activities
Relevant readings, videos and activities will be made available online relevant to the topic of the week. This will support your ability to progress successfully throughout the subject and complete assessment items effectively. The online material aims to enhance your understanding of the topic or delve deeper into a more specific area, compare experiences and ideas with others and gain feedback. Information and links to all these learning activities can be accessed via Canvas as well as the subject outline.

Zoom meetings
You are strongly encouraged to attend all scheduled Zoom meetings as they will prepare you for the subject’s assessment tasks. Additionally, they provide opportunities for group activities, discussion, self-assessment, peer review and formative feedback from the subject coordinator and your teaching team. The schedule for this subject’s zoom meetings is below in the program section.

Feedback in this subject takes several forms including self-assessment, peer review, automatic feedback from interactive activities and from the teaching team. Formative feedback throughout the subject aims to increase your performance in summative assessments.

Feedback and changes from previous subject offering
Feedback from the previous offering was positive and no major changes have been made. Several resources and readings have been updated and/or refined to maintain subject quality, accuracy and relevance.

Content (topics)

This subject will cover the following topics:

Module 1: The challenges of acute care

  • National standards and framework for practice
  • Nursing-sensitive indicators
  • Hospital-acquired complications (HACs)
  • Structured approaches to patient assessment

Module 2: Airway, breathing and related HACs

  • The respiratory system
  • Preventing respiratory complications
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia as a HAC
  • Antimicrobial stewardship

Module 3: Circulation and related HACs

  • The cardiovascular system
  • Basic ECG interpretation
  • Acute coronary syndromes
  • Atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention
  • Venous thromboembolism as a HAC

Module 4: Disability and related HACs

  • Mental health disorders in the acute care setting
  • Recognising and responding to delirium as a HAC
  • Pain management

Module 5: Exposure and related HACs

  • Basic wound management
  • Pressure injuries as a HAC
  • Medications without harm

Module 6: Fluids, glucose and related HACs

  • Fluids and electrolytes basics
  • Urinary tract infections as a HAC
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Diabetes in the acute care setting


Assessment task 1: Nursing Sensitive Indicator Report


This assessment contributes to learning by assisting students to identify their nurse-sensitive indicators relevant to their work setting. The assessment also provides an opportunity for students to receive early feedback on their understanding of nursing-sensitive indicators, and to expand this knowledge in subsequent assessments.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A and B

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.2 and 5.3

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

900 words (+/- 10%)


Marking criteria is available in Canvas.

Assessment task 2: Narrated (Oral) PowerPoint Presentation


This assessment will assist students to identify and examine one nursing-sensitive indicator in their individual work setting. Through this identification and examination, students will enhance their understanding of current trends and/or issues at the clinical, organisational and systemic levels, and propose recommendations for improvement to practice.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D and E

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.2 and 5.3

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

Oral presentation using narrated PowerPoint - 10 minutes narrated PowerPoint


Marking criteria is available in Canvas.

Assessment task 3: Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Report


This assessment will assist students to analyse a second nursing-sensitive indicator in their individual work setting, utilising a structured evidenced-based approach. Through use of a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) template, students will enhance their understanding of the RCA process and its utility in analysing a nursing-sensitive indicator to promote change and positive patient outcomes.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D and E

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.2 and 5.3

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

1500 words (+/- 10%) + RCA table


Marking criteria is available in Canvas.

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10

Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/ information refer to the Faculty of Health website ( and Canvas at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666.

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733.

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.

The Accessibility and Financial Assistance Service
The Accessibility Service can support students with disabilities, medical or mental health conditions, including temporary injuries (e.g., broken limbs). The Accessibility Service works with Academic Liaison Officers in each Faculty to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as exam provisions, assistive technology, requests and strategies for managing your studies alongside your health condition. If you’re unsure whether you need assistance, we recommend getting in touch early and we can provide advice on how our service can assist you. Make an appointment with an Accessibility Consultant (AC) on +61 2 9514 1177 or

The Financial Assistance Service can assist you with financial aspects of life at university, including Centrelink information, tax returns and budgeting, interest-free student loans and grants to assist with course-related costs. Check eligibility and apply online and make an appointment on +61 2 9514 1177 or