A qualitative study portraying nurses' perspectives on transitional care between intensive care units and hospitals wards

Suzanne Forsyth Herling, Helene Brix, Lise Andersen, Liz Daugaard Jensen, Rie Handesten, Heidi Knudsen, Dorthe Gaby Bove

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INTRODUCTION: The transition process from the intensive care unit (ICU) to hospital ward may impact the illness trajectory and compromise the continuity of safe care for ICU survivors. ICU and ward nurses are involved with the transition and are responsible for the quality of the transitional care.AIM: The aim was to explore ICU and ward nurses' views on assignments in relation to patients' transition between ICU and hospital ward.METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study with 20 semi-structured interviews with ICU nurses and ward nurses and analysed data by content analysis.SETTING: A university hospital with 690 beds and an 11-bed mixed medical/surgical ICU.FINDINGS: The overarching themes were (1) 'Ritual of hand over' with the categories: (a) 'Ready, able and willing', (b) 'Transfer of responsibility' and (c) 'Nice to know versus need to know' and (2) 'From lifesaving care to rehabilitative care' with the categories: (a) 'Complex care needs persist', (b) 'Fight or flight mode' and (c) '"Weaning" the family'. Nurses were highly focused on the ritual of the actual handover of the patient and discussed readiness as an indicator of quality and the feeling of passing on the responsibility. Nurses had different opinions on what useful knowledge was and thus necessary to communicate during handover. Although patients' complex care needs may not have been resolved when exiting the ICU, ward nurses had to receive patients in a setting where nurses were mostly comfortable within their own specialty - this was worrying for both type of nurses. Patients could enter the ward very exhausted and weak or in 'fight mode' and demand rehabilitation at a pace the ward was not capable of delivering. ICU nurses encouraged families to be demanding after the ICU stay, and ward nurses asked them to trust them and steep back.
Original languageDanish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

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