Ward staff experiences of patient death in an acute medical setting
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Ward staff experiences of patient death in an acute medical setting

Janet Wilson Senior lecturer in nursing, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield

Aim To explore how ward staff, including nurses and healthcare support workers, experience patient death in an acute medical setting.

Method Thirteen staff, from two acute medical wards for patients with respiratory conditions, were interviewed about their experiences of patient death. A Heideggerian phenomenological approach was used to gather and analyse the data.

Findings Three main themes were identified: responses, influences and support. These themes were further subdivided into preliminary themes that reflected the social psychology literature. Participants often experienced grief following the death of a patient and the effects on staff were not always recognised or acknowledged by managers.

Conclusion This study contributes new knowledge about staff experiences of patient death in the acute setting. The findings could have implications for clinical practice and the provision of support for nursing staff, and could also inform future policies regarding end of life care in this setting.

Nursing Standard. 28, 37, 37-45. doi: 10.7748/ns.28.37.37.e7949

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Received: 03 June 2013

Accepted: 10 January 2014