Patient- and Family-Centered Care: First Steps on a Long Journey

Sevransky, J. (2017) Critical Care Medicine. 45(5) pp. 757–758

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ICUs are among the most intimidating locations in the hospital for patients and families. Some machines are connected to the surface. Others invade the substance of the body. Life-sustaining devices and their connections often impair communication and performance of the activities of daily life. Even professionals-turned patients have difficulties communicating effectively when on the other side of the stethoscope (1) in an ICU.

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A Clinicians Guide to Privacy and Communication in the ICU

Francis, L. et al. (2017) Critical Care Medicine. 45 (3) pp. 480–485

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Objective: To review the legal issues concerning family members’ access to information when patients are in the ICU.

Conclusions: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and related laws should not be viewed as barriers to clinicians sharing information with ICU patients and their loved ones. Generally, under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, personal representatives have the same authority to receive information that patients would otherwise have. Persons involved in the patient’s care also may be given information relevant to the episode of care unless the patient objects. ICUs should develop policies for handling the issues we identify about such information sharing, including policies for responding to telephone inquiries and methods for giving patients the opportunity to object to sharing information with individuals involved in their care. ICU clinicians also should be knowledgeable of their state’s laws about how to identify patients’ personal representatives and the authority of those representatives. Finally, ICU clinicians should be aware of any special restrictions their state places on medical information. In aggregate, these strategies should help ICU managers and clinicians facilitate robust communication with patients and their loved ones.

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How nurses support families of intensive care patients towards the end of life

Families of people dying in intensive care need to receive personalised communication and ongoing support, and be involved in the dying process | NIHR

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Researchers gathered evidence on how nurses care for patients and their families in intensive care when life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn. The included studies explored the care of the family before, during and after the process. Most of the studies in this small, mixed methods review were qualitative.

Reviewers identified three main ways, or themes, in which families are supported. First, information and good communication, such as the focus on careful use of language, was seen commonly. Second, by careful management of treatment withdrawal itself, for example by clarifying the gradual change expected when medically focussed life-sustaining treatments are withdrawn and family centred end-of-life care begins. Lastly they described a common focus on making the nursing contribution more visible, such as using techniques to build lasting memories for families.

 

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Parents’ experience of a follow-up meeting after a child’s death in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit

Brink, H.L. et al. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing. Published online: 12 August 2016

Objective: ‘To identify parents’ experience of a follow up meeting and to explore whether the conversation was adequate to meet the needs of parents for a follow-up after their child’s death in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Design and setting: Qualitative method utilising semi-structured interviews with six pairs of parents 2–12 weeks after the follow-up conversation. The interviews were held in the parents’ homes at their request. Data were analysed using a qualitative, descriptive approach and thematic analysis.

Findings: Four main themes emerged: (i) the way back to the PICU; (ii) framework; (iii) relations and (iv) closure.

Conclusion: The parents expressed nervousness before the meeting, but were all pleased to have participated in these follow-up meetings. The parents found it meaningful that the follow-up meeting was interdisciplinary, since the parents could have answers to their questions both about treatment and care. It was important that the staff involved in the follow-up meeting were those who had been present through the hospitalisation and at the time of the child’s death. Parents experienced the follow-up meeting as being a closure of the course in the PICU, regardless the length of the hospitalisation.

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