Death of Patients Can Cause Stress, Trauma for Critical Care Nurses

Mar 2, 2017

Despite best efforts, CPR is not always successful in a hospital. But the death of a patient after CPR can be really stressful for critical care nurses. New research tries to help identify nurses most at risk for postcode stress and post traumatic stress disorder with the hope of improving resiliency in medical providers.

Registered nurses have one of the highest turnover rates of any medical profession with a national average of more than 17 percent. Finding ways to  help nurses cope following the death of a patient may help combat high turnover and vacancy rates for critical care nurses, said Dawn McMeekin, lead author of the study.

The researchers conducted an online survey with a national sample of 490 critical care nurses to try to determine levels of post stress code and PTSD. They found that critical care nurses showed moderate levels of postcode stress. However, those who participated in institutional debriefing reported significantly lower levels. One recent initiative to help decrease stress in nurses, includes “pausing” after the death of a patient to honor the life of the person who passed.

The study was published this month in the American Journal of Critical Care.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.