Emergency nurses' perceptions of sedation management practices for critically ill intubated patients: A qualitative study

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Journal Article
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2015, 24 (21-22), pp. 3286 - 3295
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© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Aims and objectives: The aim of this study was to explore factors influencing practices in assessing, titrating and managing sedation for the critically ill intubated patients, from the perspective of emergency nurses. Background: The number of critically ill patients presenting to Australian public Emergency Departments has increased by over 30% since 1980. Emergency nurses are increasingly relied upon to manage sedation of critically ill intubated patients. There is little evidence within international literature relating to how emergency nurses accomplish this. Design: Descriptive qualitative study. Method: A purposive sample of 15 experienced emergency nurses participated in semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Transcribed data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: The qualitative analysis yielded five themes: becoming the resuscitation nurse; becoming confident as the resuscitation nurse; communicating about sedation; visual cues and the vanishing act. The safety and quality of sedation experienced by critically ill intubated patients in ED was the responsibility of emergency nurses, yet uncertainties and barriers were evident. Conclusion: Patient continuity of care, including optimisation of comfort relies upon the knowledge, skills and expertise of the emergency nurse allocated to the resuscitation area. For most nurses transitioning into the resuscitation nurse role, it represents the first time they will have had contact with patients with highly complex needs and sedation. The use of self-directed clinical workbooks and supervised clinical practice alone may be insufficient to adequately prepare nurses for the spectrum of critically ill sedated patients managed in the resuscitation area; a situation made worse in the presence of poor team communication. Relevance to clinical practice: The findings of this study should assist in the development of policy and formal education of emergency nurses transitioning into the resuscitation area and the management of continuous intravenous sedation to critically ill mechanically ventilated patients is required.
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