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Nurses can face stress and trauma in relation to patient deaths

Nurses can encounter some very difficult, and potentially traumatic, situations during the course of their work. This includes patient deaths. These tragic situations can have many impacts on a nurse, including impacts on their mental health.

A recent study looked at PTSD and postcode stress among nurses who had been a part of unsuccessful CPR efforts on patients.

Nearly 500 critical care nurses were participants in this study. According to the study, when recalling unsuccessful CPR efforts they were involved in, the nurses tended to show postcode stress and PTSD symptoms that came in at moderate levels.

The study also looked at how coping behaviors and institutional debriefing support were associated with postcode stress and PTSD symptom levels among nurses following unsuccessful CPR efforts. The study found that receiving institutional debriefing support was associated with decreased levels of postcode stress. Meanwhile, it found that nurse coping behaviors seemed to influence PTSD symptom levels, but did not seem to influence postcode stress.

So, it appears there is still a lot to be learned about how best to help nurses deal with the trauma and stress of losing a patient in unsuccessful resuscitation efforts. One hopes all hospitals and health care workplaces will work hard to give their nurses proper help and support when it comes to dealing with the mental and emotional strain of unsuccessful resuscitations and other patient deaths.

In addition to emotional and mental health difficulties, nurses can also sometimes be dealing with difficult legal situations in connection to patient deaths. For example, if allegations are leveled that the care they provided the patient was poor, they could be facing state disciplinary proceedings. Such proceedings could have many impacts on a nurse, including license-related impacts. Skilled health law attorneys can provide tailored legal advice and support to nurses who are facing such impactful proceedings.

Source: ScienceDaily, “Helping nurses cope with postcode stress,” March 1, 2017

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