Can Nurses Contribute to Better End-of-Life Care?

Shotton, L.
March 2000
Nursing Ethics;Mar2000, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p134
Academic Journal
In this article I will argue that futile medical and nursing care is not only inefficacious but that it may be harmful to the patient and also to health professionals, who may be diminished both as clinicians and as persons if they are not able to give appropriate care to dying patients and their families. I discuss futile care in intensive care units because the opportunities and the temptation to provide futile care in these settings is higher than, for instance, in internal medicine and nursing home care. I argue, following two nurse ethicists, Carol Taylor and Colleen Scanlon, that, even if nurses are not the initiators of futile care, they play an important role in its prevention because of their clinical expertise. They can do this by convening ‘patient care conferences’ when they recognize the need to bring together the various parties that have conflicting expectations. These conferences would then result in appropriate palliative care. The nurses providing this care would demonstrate their understanding of the process whereby living becomes the process of dying.


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