Though emergency nurses feel comfortable providing end-of-life care and positive about supporting patients and families, they list several barriers to providing safe and effective end-of-life care, according to a new study by the Emergency Nurses Association, published online July 30 in the Journal of Emergency Nursing.
Using surveys of ENA members and focus group data, ENA researchers found nine areas of concern related to end-of-life care, including a lack of protocols and guidelines for managing dying patients in the emergency department. They also found ED nurses were concerned about the chaos and noise in the ED and about a lack of resources available to dying patients in other areas of the hospital, including time, space and interdisciplinary caregivers to properly provide end-of-life care. Survey participants stated they believed patients needed and deserved these resources regardless of location or time of day.
“Nurses described the emotional toll and burnout that can result from the inability to provide quality end-of-life care, and they were also able to identify specific competencies that they believed would help their stress and improve patient/family care,” Lisa A. Wolf, PhD, RN, CEN, FAEN, and co-authors wrote. “These suggestions included bereavement counseling, compassionate care and holistic management of patient and family needs.”
Study participants told researchers they saw the value of more integrated end-of-life content in nursing education and of clear practice guidelines to improve end-of-life nursing skills and patient care, according to the study.