SOURCE: Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)

Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)

August 17, 2015 15:48 ET

Study Examines Emergency Nurses Perceptions of End-of-Life Care in the Emergency Department

Dichotomy Between Traditional Emergency Care and End-of-Life Care Viewed as a Challenge

DES PLAINES, IL--(Marketwired - August 17, 2015) - A new study from the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), published online in the Journal of Emergency Nursing, looks at the perceptions of challenges and facilitators related to the care of patients at end of life in the emergency setting. Emergency nurses overwhelmingly feel comfortable providing end-of-life care and have positive attitudes related to supporting the patient and their families, yet acknowledge several barriers to providing safe and effective care.

While end-of-life care has been extensively studied, this is one of few studies that examines the emergency nurse's role in caring for this population. The exploratory mixed-methods study, "Exploring the Management of Death: Emergency Nurses' Perceptions of Challenges and Facilitators in the Provision of End-of-Life Care in the Emergency Department," was derived from ENA member survey and focus group data.

Researchers noted nine areas of concern for emergency nurses related to end-of-life care. Among those, emergency nurses acknowledged the unique skillsets required for emergency nursing care versus end-of-life care, and the lack of protocols and guidelines for managing acutely ill dying patients. Lack of resources including time, space and interdisciplinary personnel is viewed as a systemic problem not unique to the emergency setting.

"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, RN, PhD, CEN, FAEN, and coauthors wrote. "These suggestions included bereavement counseling, compassionate care and holistic management of patient and family needs."

"End-of-life care is a distinctive role within the emergency department that requires unique attention and resources," said ENA President Matthew F. Powers, MS, BSN, RN, MICP, CEN. "As we look at additional ways to provide useful resources for emergency nurses, this study provides valuable data on the need for more specific end-of-life care protocols and guidelines."

Further research is needed to better understand the relationship among emergency nurses' positive attitudes toward caring for the dying and bereaved, their exposure to EOL education and practice competencies that could improve the end-of-life experience for nurses, patients and families in the emergency department.

About the Emergency Nurses Association
The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) is the premier professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through advocacy, education, research, innovation, and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing community. With more than 40,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines, and guides emergency healthcare public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care. Additional information is available

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Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Marie Grimaldi
    Communications & PR Manager, ENA