Author Submission Guidelines


Call for Papers

Nursing Sensitive Indicators

Special Issue of the HCA Healthcare Journal of Medicine

Submission Deadline May 1, 2024


As the US healthcare system continues to try to find its’ footing in the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic, patient outcomes—already a cornerstone for healthcare—have become a critical focus. Over the course of the pandemic, studies have highlighted broad (and widening) disparities in outcomes such as mortality, morbidity, timely access to care and many others among different patient populations driven the pandemic.

In particular, outcomes linked to nursing care, sometimes referred to as nurse sensitive indicators, or NSIs—such as falls, hospital acquired pressure injuries (HAPI), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) and others—have become a lightning focus, as the factors such as nursing burnout and attrition, shifting demographics, staffing ratios, shifts in patient case-mix and acuity levels, new technologies and care models, and market pressures have led to profound (and continued) changes to the nursing workforce.

Against this backdrop, the need for strategies for ensuring nurses can continue to deliver high-quality care has never been more pressing. In particular, strategies for preventing negative outcomes such as falls, hospital-acquired pressure injuries (HAPIs), central-line associated blood stream infections (CLABSI), ventilator associated events (VAEs) and others in the current landscape developed by nurses, and backed by evidence is urgently needed. In addition, innovative strategies and care models for ensuring clinical environments can withstand the intense pressures they face and clarify which practices are most effective for delivering outcomes to specific populations are needed.

Article Types and Topics of Interest

In alignment with focus of our special issue, we welcome editorials, brief reports, case studies/series, research studies, quality improvement projects, and evidence-based practice projects focusing on six nursing-sensitive indicators listed below (including, but not limited to, the following topics):

Falls (with and without injury)

  • Efforts to tailor falls prevention to specific populations/care settings
  • Role of technology has in fall reduction (including feasibility, cost, outcomes, trade-offs and impact on nursing workflow)
  • Barriers to implementing (and sustaining) falls prevention in care settings
  • Effect of alarm optimization on fall incidence

Hospital-Acquired Pressure Injuries (HAPIs)

  • Effectiveness of specific skin care, nutrition and mobility protocols
  • Optimal frequency, format, methods for nursing HAPI education
  • Role emerging technology (including artificial intelligence, and non-contact vein imaging devices) has in nursing HAPI reduction

Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs)

  • Strategies for promoting timely removal of urinary indwelling catheters in specific populations/care settings
  • Nurses' role in promoting patient/family involvement in CAUTI prevention
  • Nurses' role antimicrobial stewardship for CAUTIs
  • Impact of nurse rounding on CAUTI incidence/severity

Ventilator Associated Events (VAEs)

  • Impact of innovative nurse staffing models on VAEs
  • Effectiveness of different ventilator bundles on VAE prevention specific care settings/populations
  • Impact of nursing interventions (e.g., oral care, positioning) for preventing VAEs

Non-Ventilator Associated Hospital Acquired Pneumonia (NVHAP)

  • Nursing knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to NVHAP
  • Role of non-nurses, eg, Patient Care Technicians (PCTs) in NVHAP reduction
  • Barriers and strategies for meeting NHVAP targets in specific populations/care settings

Use of Restraints/Seclusion in Behavioral Health Setting

  • Effectiveness of de-escalation strategies for reducing frequency or duration of restraints/seclusion in different care settings/populations
  • Optimal strategies for developing/maintaining restraint/seclusion competency
  • Barriers and facilitators to sustaining restraint and seclusion reduction strategies

For this issue, we invite articles describing (1) innovative nursing care models, (2) comparative efficacy research highlighting the superiority of specific care models, practices, bundles, or approaches for preventing, identifying, or managing specific NSIs. In addition, research, quality improvement, and evidence-base practice projects describing strategies for (3) hard-wiring clinical excellence (especially those designed to bolster care systems against pressure) are highly encouraged. Research capturing the role that (4) diversity, equity and inequality, specifically, impact NSIs and (5) the use of technology/artificial intelligence (AI) by nurses to reduce NSIs are also welcomed.

Submission Guidelines

See Author Guidelines to ensure submissions meet the journal’s standards for different article types. Authors are also encouraged to review the EQUATOR Network guidelines for their respective submission type(s) prior to submitting. Questions and pre-submission inquiries can be sent to the Managing Editor, Graig Donini at Graig.Donini@HCAhealthcare.com.

Submission Deadline

The deadline for submission to the Special Issue is May 1, 2024. In your cover letter, please explicitly note that your submission is intended for consideration for inclusion in this special issue. Submissions must be made via the journal submission portal.

Peer Review

Each manuscript will be peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers with subject matter expertise using a blinded process. The online portal will be used for management of the manuscripts through the entire submission/review/acceptance process. Criteria for manuscript inclusion in the special issue will be consistent with the relevance and quality criteria required by the journal for its regular issues, as well as a manuscript’s relevance to the call themes. If you would like to be a reviewer please contact Managing Editor, Graig Donini at Graig.Donini@HCAhealthcare.com.

Additional Info

All authors—including HCA and non-HCA employees alike—are encouraged to submit articles for consideration for the special issue. As noted above, reviewers and authors will be blinded to ensure articles are evaluated on merit alone. First-time and early career authors as well as students in accredited nursing programs are especially encouraged to submit their work for this special issue.

Author Guidelines

Please see the Aims and Scope page for the journal’s mission and the topics acceptable for submission.

The journal is open access and charges no author or article processing fees to submit or publish. The journal welcomes participation from anyone in the medical community and encourages the participation of residents, fellows, and medical students.

Authorship Criteria

Follow the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors' (ICMJE) guidelines for determining authorship. These guidelines base authorship on the following four criteria:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and
  • Final approval of the version to be published; and
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Submission Types

The following are guidelines for the submission types we are currently accepting. Page, figure/table, and reference maximums are not hard limits but suggestions to help authors aim for a concise use of words and images and to avoid verbose or needlessly complicated submissions.

     Original Research and Brief Reports

Research articles present original findings that advance scientific knowledge and have implications on patient care. The body text shouldn’t exceed 4000 words and should have a structured abstract (Background, Methods, Results, Conclusion, Keywords) of no more than 300 words. The article should have no more than 6 figures or tables. There are no limits on the number of references that may be included. As of April 1, 2021, institutional review board (IRB) letters are required for any research study submitted to the journal, including those exempted from IRB oversight.

Authors of research articles should follow the EQUATOR Reporting Guidelines.

     Clinical Review

A review article is a survey of the academic literature on a topic of interest. The body text shouldn’t exceed 4000 words with no more than 5 figures or tables. Keep the reference list to 50 citations or less. An abstract of no more than 250 words should be included. Mini-reviews will also be considered.

Authors of clinical reviews should follow the EQUATOR Reporting Guidelines.

     Case Report

A case report presents a unique clinical case, scenario, or series. The body text has a limit of 2000 words with no more than 5 figures or tables for a single case. A case series will likely be longer and have more figures and tables. There should be less than 6 authors. No more than 20 references should be cited. The abstract should introduce the topic, present basic clinical findings, outcomes, and conclusions and should have no more than 300 words. Informed consent protocols must be adhered to, including written patient permission for any use of likeness. As of November 1, 2022: Written consent is required all cases including for the use of any image depicting a patient, from histochemical studies to photos of the patient’s body.

     Clinical Image

A clinical image is a high-quality image or video that shows a disease or condition in clear fashion. The text should consist of the case presentation and a discussion and be no more than 1000 words with no more than 5 figures or videos. There should be less than 6 authors. No more than 10 references should be cited. The abstract should be a description of the case and have no more than 150 words. Informed consent protocols must be adhered to, including written patient permission for any use of likeness. As of May 1, 2021: Written consent is required for use of any image depicting a patient, from histochemical studies to photos of the patient’s body.

     Quality Improvement and Patient Safety

This article type reports an intervention or change that significantly improves patient outcomes. The body text shouldn’t exceed 3000 words. It should have a structured abstract (Background, Methods, Results, Conclusion, Keywords) with no more than 300 words. It should have no more than 3 tables or figures and 20 or fewer references. You should note in your methods section: ”This project was undertaken as a Quality Improvement project and as such does not need Institutional Review Board (IRB) review.” If the project was reviewed by the IRB and was determined not to be human subjects research then note: “This Quality Improvement project was reviewed and exempted by the facility's Institutional Review Board."

Authors of quality improvement articles should follow the EQUATOR Reporting Guidelines.

     Metadata Analysis

A metadata analysis summarizes data from individual studies regarding a treatment or procedure. The body text shouldn’t exceed 4000 words and should have a structured abstract (Background, Methods, Results, Conclusion, Keywords) with no more than 300 words. The article should have no more than 6 figures or tables. There are no limits on the number of references that may be included.

     News and Other Non-Scholarly Submissions

These articles are brief reports of new findings in research or innovations in educational or clinical scenarios. Articles should be no more than 1500 words and no more than 2 figures or tables. Keep references to no more than 20. No abstract is needed, but a synopsis of 150 words or less should be included.

     Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor address current events or reference a previously published article in the journal, be it for correction or expanded discussion. The body text shouldn’t exceed 1000 words with no more than 2 figures or tables. If the letter refers to an article published in the HCA Healthcare Journal of Medicine, it must include a full citation for that work.

     Humanities Submissions

Submissions to the Humanities section are curated by Dr. Barbara Gracious in consultation with other Editorial Board members and the managing editor. Written submissions should be less than 3000 words. Photographs shouldn't include identifiable persons without signed permission for sharing their likeness. No abstract is needed, but a synopsis of 150 words or less should be included.

Each submission should include a cover letter sharing some background on the submission, a title, any descriptive elements needed, and acknowledgements of any contributions to the work from others.

Submission Requirements

Please follow these guidelines as closely as possible. Articles not conforming to the guidelines may be returned for revision prior to being assigned an editor. Following these guidelines will ensure your article will begin the peer review process in a timely manner.

     Cover Letter

Because the journal uses a double-blind reviewing procedure, the cover letter will include the usual title page information, including authorship and affiliations, and contact information for the corresponding author, with postal address, email address, and telephone number. It should include the type of article being submitted along with a word count of the abstract and body text, and whether it has been previously submitted to other publications or presented at a conference or meeting. Disclosures of financial support, including grant numbers, should also be provided. These disclosures might need additional documentation as required by the journal.


Prepare your manuscript in accordance with the AMA Manual of Style, 11th edition or the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals.

Manuscripts should be sent in a Word document, and not as a PDF. Make sure to turn on line numbers to aid reviewers in commenting on your article. Individual files should be less than 5 MB each. An exception to these rules can be made if a video is part of your submission.

The manuscript file should include an abstract, body text, references, and if needed, figure captions and tables. Don't include a title page with your submission as reviews are double-blind. Any supplementary information should be included in separate files.

Note for those working in Google Docs: Our submission system does not recognize documents produced in Google Docs. You will need to access a computer with Microsoft Word to get the file in a recognizable format. Follow these steps prior to submission:

  • Download the document from Google Docs as a ".docx" file.
  • Open the downloaded document and open a new blank word template in Microsoft Word.
  • Copy and paste the text/body of the downloaded Google Docs file to the new word template.
  • Save the new Word template/file and upload this file to the journal.


The structured abstract should include sections titled ‘Background’, ‘Methods’, ‘Results’, ‘Conclusions’, and ‘Keywords’ for research and review articles. Other submissions should include an unstructured abstract or brief summary of the contents as noted above.

     Body Text

Use 10- to 12-point fonts (any standard available Word font will suffice, but Calibri, Arial, and New Times Roman are common choices) for all text and double-space lines of text. Use bold type and all-caps for main headings and bold types with sentence case for secondary headings. If emphasis is needed in the text use italics, not bold-face type.


References should use AMA style. Author and editor lists of more than 6 should show the first 3 followed by “et al.” Journal titles should be abbreviated according to the style used for MEDLINE. References should be listed in the order they appear in the text.

     Data Analyses and Statistics

Descriptive and inferential statistics should be described in full in the Methods section including power analyses, the purpose of the analyses, and if any data were excluded. When reporting statistical analyses in the results, provide an interpretation of the statistical output along with the numeric results. This includes an explanation of the direction of the effect and what that statistic says about your data. We strongly encourage the calculation of effect sizes such as Cohen’s d, eta squared, and r-squared.


Tables should be formatted in Word or Excel, so your data can be directly imported for publication, avoiding errors in transcription.

Tables should be numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals and in order of their first citation in the text. Each table should have a short, but explanatory title that allows the table to standalone without the text. Make sure all tables are cited in the text.

Each column should have a brief title or heading. Footnotes can be used to expand on information rather than having lengthy titles or column headings. Use symbols in the following order for footnotes: *, †, ‡, §. Double these symbols in the same order for additional footnotes.

Data published or unpublished from another source should be acknowledged and permission obtained from the authors or publication.

Supplementary tables can be included when data are either too extensive or ancillary to the discussion in the text but provide needed or useful context. Such tables should be cited in the text and noted that they are included in the supplements for the article. Include such tables as part of the manuscript submission so that they can be read by the peer reviewers.


Photographs, illustrations, clinical, radiological, and diagnostic images should be high-resolution photographic image files. Any symbols, arrows, scale markers, or text on images should contrast with the background.

Graphs should include data sets in tabular form in either Word or Excel, if possible, to be recreated in a consistent style.

Figures should be numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals and in order of their first citation in the text. A complete sentence caption should be included for further exposition on all figures. Make sure all figures are cited in the text. All figure and captions should be included on a separate page of the manuscript.

If a figure has been published previously or is under copyright or requires a citation (such as under a Creative Commons license), the source should be cited in the figure caption and written permission for reproduction should be provided, when necessary.

     Supplements and Media

Media files and data sets should be included as supplementary material.

Additional supplements from those noted above should include statements of any conflicts of interest for all authors. Acknowledgements and any other notes of a personal or identifying nature should also be included in the supplementary materials to avoid revealing the authors’ identities to peer reviewers. If there are any previously published figures or tables, permission for reuse must be attached. When required, patient permission should also be included for all cases and any use of a patient's likeness, even for de-identified images. Please include publication approval from your facility or organization.

Revision Requirements

After a decision has been made regarding your submission, and assuming it wasn’t rejected, you should revise your work, informed by the comments from the reviewers and editor. We require you to submit your revision as a Word document with your changes tracked and major additions or changes highlighted. Once you have revised your manuscript you will go to your submission on this site and choose the “Revise Submission” link and upload the new version. Be sure to review the abstract you included earlier to ensure your revisions are reflected there. (Edits to the abstract don’t require tracked or highlighted changes, just make your edits in the revision window.)

Another requirement for the revision process is the reviewer letter. Each reviewer’s feedback should be addressed in a letter that notes how you resolved each critique or why you didn’t revise per their recommendations.

There are different ways to structure your reviewer letters, but make sure you respond to each item in the reviews. You can work from the original reviewer document and add your own notes following each action item. Make sure you use a different color of text or separate your comments in a table. When a change was made in the text, make sure to note the section, page number and line number where the change was made. The reviewer letter will speed up the re-review process and helps our reviewers.

When you submit your revised manuscript there is an option to also upload reviewer letters. Upload each reviewer letter there and the reviewers will be able to see your corrections while they read the revised manuscript. It is acceptable to create a single document with your response to all reviewer comments that can be sent to each reviewer.

If you do not provide a tracked-changes Word file and/or don’t include a reviewer letter, the editor will not send the article out for re-review and the next decision on your article will be delayed.

NOTE: Word documents with tracked changes will likely include personal information of any co-authors who edit the file. Authors should clear personal information in Word by clicking on ‘File’, then the ‘Click for Issues’ box, and then select ‘Inspect Document’. Make sure the ‘Document Properties and Personal Information’ box is checked, then click ‘Inspect’. If Word has stored any personal information, the option to ‘Remove All’ personal data will appear. Click this and then save the file. The document should now be free of personal information in the tracked changes and comments.

Publishing Workflow

     Submission Procedures

Be sure your manuscript is complete and you have collected all required supplementary materials, including disclosures and permissions. Go to the journal home page and select 'Submit'. Follow the instructions. Finally, click 'Accept' on the submission agreement.

The HCA Healthcare Journal of Medicine does not charge an article process fee for accepted manuscripts. To contact the editorial office, email HCA.GMEJournal@HCAhealthcare.com.

Please make sure your article or work has been given publication clearance by your facility or organization prior to submission to the journal.

     Editorial and Peer Review

All submissions will be initially checked by the editorial team for completeness and to ensure the content and quality of the submission are in line with the journal’s mission and scope. Submissions may be rejected at this point or returned with the option to resubmit with changes or additions.

Articles approved for review will be read and commented upon by at least two peer reviewers under a double-blind procedure. The reviewers will not know the identity of the author(s) and the author(s) will not know the identity of the reviewers.

There are 5 results of the submission procedures: accept, accept with minor revisions, minor revisions required, major revisions required, or reject.

     After Revisions/Acceptance

After your article is accepted, you will need to make any changes suggested by the reviewers or document why you didn’t take their advice. If the changes are substantive, it is possible the editor will request an additional round of reviews. The Editor-in-Chief and/or one of the Clinical Co-Editors will make the final determination on whether your article is published.

If your submission is rejected, it can only be resubmitted with approval from the Editor-in-Chief or Clinical Co-Editors. See the Policies page for how to appeal a decision.