Themes Identified for Improving End-of-Life Care in ER

Five major and four minor themes emerge from questions posed to emergency department nurses

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Major and minor themes have been identified by emergency nurses who often provide end-of-life (EOL) care in the emergency department setting, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

Renea L. Beckstrand, Ph.D., R.N., of the Brigham Young University College of Nursing in Provo, Utah, and colleagues surveyed 1,000 emergency nurses for suggestions regarding how to improve EOL care in the emergency department setting.

Overall, 230 nurses provided 295 suggestions for improving care. The researchers identified five major themes and four minor themes. The major themes, which were mentioned by 20 or more respondents, included allowing emergency department nurses to have more time to care for dying patients; allowing family to be present during resuscitation; and providing more comfortable patient rooms, privacy, and family grief rooms. Minor themes, mentioned by 16 or fewer nurses, included increased ancillary service involvement; pain management and minimizing suffering; family education; and honoring patients' desires and wishes.

"Large numbers of patients die in emergency departments in the United States every year. Caring for those who are dying in emergency departments is difficult because these highly technical departments were primarily created to save lives," the authors write. "Implementing changes based on emergency nurse recommendations may dramatically improve EOL care for dying patients and their family members."

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