Nurses’ and doctors’ perceptions and experiences in providing end-of-life care in emergency department settings.

Giles, Dr Tracey

This pilot study will explore perceptions and experiences of doctors and nurses providing end-of-life care in emergency department (ED) settings throughout Australia.

When people die in emergency departments (EDs), they are surrounded by expert clinicians but may often be separated from their family and significant others. Emergency departments are designed and staffed for rapid diagnosis, treatment and referral/discharge, and they may not be equipped to care for dying patients and their families. As such, ED clinicians tend to prioritise lifesaving activities over family-centred end-of-life care – even when the most likely patient outcome is death.

As our population ages, there will be an increasing number of people presenting to and dying in EDs. The provision of safe, effective end-of-life care in this setting is therefore important for not only patients but also their families and ED staff. Sub-optimal end-of-life care can lead to physical, emotional and spiritual distress for patients, families and loved ones over an extended period of time – impacting individuals as well as society at large.