Introduction: Rural emergency nurses face unique obstacles to providing quality end-of-life (EOL) care. Stories provided by emergency nurses embody their most difficult EOL care obstacles. Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 53 rural hospitals. Respondents were asked to share stories that epitomized the obstacles faced while providing EOL care in the rural emergency setting. Results: The lack of an ideal death (nurse personally knows the patient, issues with family members, and unknown patient wishes) was the top obstacle. Other reported obstacles were insufficient ED staff and power struggles between nurses and physicians. Discussion: Rural emergency nurses often provide EOL care to friends and family members, while their urban counterparts are likely to transfer care to nurses with no relation to the dying patient. Not only does caring for patients, that the nurse knows or is related to, cause great distress to rural emergency nurses, this unfortunately common situation may also prevent patients from receiving the highest quality of EOL care. Conclusion: Emergency nurses often face obstacles that hinder their ability to provide high quality EOL care to patients. These obstacles are compounded by a unique set of challenges faced by nurses working in rural emergency departments. Stories from rural emergency nurses revealed that being unable to provide optimal care at the EOL, having difficulties with family members, or not knowing the patient's wishes for EOL care were the most common obstacles. Additional obstacles included stories about the impact of low or unavailable staff and feeling powerless in some EOL situations.



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emergency, end-of-life, obstacles, emergency nurse, rural, rural nursing

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