Original Research

Registered nurses’ experience of the withdrawal of treatment from the critically ill patient in an intensive care unit

D van Rooyen, M Elfick, J Strümpher
Curationis | Vol 28, No 1 | a920 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v28i1.920 | © 2005 D van Rooyen, M Elfick, J Strümpher | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2005 | Published: 28 September 2005

About the author(s)

D van Rooyen, Nursing science, University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa
M Elfick,, South Africa
J Strümpher, Nursing science, University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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Abstract

In this article the results of research undertaken to explore and describe the experience of Registered Nurses regarding the withdrawal of treatment from the critically ill patient in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), are discussed. Withdrawal of treatment from a critically ill patient in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a very traumatic experience for all those involved. The Registered Nurse has the most contact with all those who are involved throughout the process. This raises questions regarding how the nurse experiences the withdrawal of treatment, and about guidelines that can be developed to accompany the nurse during the process of treatment withdrawal.
The study was qualitative, descriptive, exploratory, descriptive and contextual in nature. Data was gathered by means of phenomenological interviews conducted by the researcher. Trustworthiness was ensured through the implementation of Guba’s model (in Krefting 1991: 214). The following themes were identified:
1. The relationships the nurse develops with individuals involved in the process of treatment withdrawal.
2. The inner moral conflict experienced by the nurse relating to the ethical aspects of withdrawal of treatment.
The focus of this article is on the discussion of these experiences of the registered nurses. Based on the identified themes, guidelines were developed to accompany the nurse during the process of withdrawal of treatment.

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