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Emergency care, Lived experience, Phenomenology, Qualitative, Research, van Manen



  1. Cypress, Brigitte S. EdD, RN, CCRN


Despite many studies conducted aimed to understand and improve emergency care, research on the triad of nurses, patients, and family members looking at the lived emergency department experiences and their perspective of each from the other is notably absent. In a hermeneutic phenomenological study using van Manen's method, a sample of 10 patients, 5 family members, and 8 nurses of a nonprofit community hospital was recruited and interviewed in 2010 to 2011 to explore, understand, and describe their lived experiences during critical illness in the emergency department. The nurses perceived that addressing the patient's physiologic deficit promptly is vital in the emergency department as well as including family members as coparticipants in the care. Patients and family members perceived that communication, critical thinking, sensitivity, and caring are essential for emergency department nurses. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' Synergy Model for Patient Care was applied in conceptualizing the findings and served as a framework in recommending practices and interventions geared toward improving competencies required in caring for critically ill patients and their families in the emergency department. The study supports recognizing the patient and family as active participants in the patient's medical care; encouraging family-member presence and creating institutional policies for patient- and family-centered care, as well as encouraging the development of ongoing programs that will recognize, enhance, and support the psychological and emotional well-being of emergency department nurses.