By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.
End-of-life care and decision making have been getting a lot of attention lately. The Institute of Medicine released a new report earlier this year, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life (available for free download as a PDF).
Nurses who write often write about end-of-life matters. A couple of recent examples:
On the Nurse Manifest Web site, a look at the realities and challenges of futile care in America. Here’s a quote:
“I am currently teaching a thanatology (study of death and dying) course for nurses that I designed . . . to support students to go deeply in their reflective process around death and dying, to explore the holistic needs of the dying, and to delve into the body of evidence around the science and politics of death and dying.”
Or read another nurse blogger’s less abstract take on the tricky emotional territory nurses face when a patient dies.
Elsewhere on the Web
Vox reporter Sarah Kliff collects five strong end-of-life essays that recently appeared in various sources.
And here’s something very practical that might catch on: according to a recent NPR story, a Honolulu hospital offers patients and their family members instructive videos on the sometimes gruesome realities of some end-of-life treatment options. Starting with the no-sugar-coating-it statement, “You’re being shown this video because you have an illness that cannot be cured,” these videos explain intubation, CPR, and the different care options available.
I really liked this piece because the physician admitted that he was ill prepared to talk to a patient running out of options who he had never met before. Then he remembered the counsel of other professionals to give patient-specific care (“What are your goals for your care?”).
And some recent coverage in AJN or on this blog
Joy Jacobson’s short end-of-life and palliative care overview from 2013.
A recent Reflections essay about the life of a hospice nurse (and former AJN editorial director)—Thom Schwarz—great stuff.
Last year on this blog, I wrote briefly about the uneasy role of nurses when it comes to talking with patients about end-of-life decisions.
One of my personal favorites: the story of the hospital that worked with a young woman with terminal cancer who was pregnant. This one should be out there—it’s so beautiful and real.
A recent podcast with and article by nurse Blima Marcus about the inconsistent use of color-coded DNR wristbands in hospitals.
And this 2014 original research CE article—“Staff Nurses’ Perceptions Regarding Palliative Care for Hospitalized Older Adults.”