Introduction: Death is not an uncommon outcome for patients who seek immediate care in an emergency department. Although death is common in the emergency department there is little literature regarding end-of-life care in the emergency department. The purpose of this research study is to determine what changes emergency nurses would suggest to improve end-of-life care for dying patients and their families in emergency departments.

Background: A national, geographically dispersed, random sample of 1000 emergency nurses were sent a questionnaire entitled, "Emergency Nurses' Perceptions of End-of-Life Care." Inclusion criteria included nurses who were members of the Emergency Nurses Association, could read English, worked in an emergency department, and had cared for at least one emergency patient at the end-of-life.

Results: There was an overwhelming consistency in recommended changes to improve care of the dying emergency department patient by the nurses participating in the study. Five major themes were identified: 1) increasing the amount of time emergency nurses have to care for dying patients and their families; 2) consistently allowing family presence during resuscitation; 3) providing a comfortable patient room; 4) providing for more privacy at the end-of-life; and 5) providing a family grief room.

Conclusion: The emergency department will continue to be the primary access point for dying patients to receive medical and nursing care. Implementing changes based on emergency nurse recommendations may dramatically improve the experience for the dying patient as well as their family members.



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emergency nursing, end-of-life care, emergency nurses, grieving, emergency department

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