Linda Sandström
Linda Sandström, PhD-student at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Sofia Stridsman View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Nurses' experiences of trauma alerts

Published: 9 September 2016

Secure about their own skills – but sometimes a feeling of inadequacy. That summarizes Swedish critical care nurses' experiences of dealing with trauma alerts, shows a new study by Linda Sandström, PhD student at Luleå University of Technology.

Linda Sandström is a specialist nurse in surgical care and a PhD student in Nursing at the Luleå University of Technology. She has conducted two studies within the project "To suffer from a trauma – the acute stage and life after an accident."

– The existing research regarding trauma care are often made from a strict medical point of view; Measuring the mortality rate and absence from work and so on. But the road to recovery for a severely injured patient seldom depends only on medical factors. How the patient perceives the care also affects the recovery. It is important that we, by research, can learn more on how to improve the care for trauma patients, says Linda Sandström.

In one of her studies, ”Experiences of nursing patients suffering from trauma – preparing for the unexpected”, she interviewed 15 specialist nurses in the intensive care unit (ICU) at a medium-sized Swedish hospital, with approximately 300 trauma alarms each year.

Sandström’s study shows that the critical care nurses are secure about their own training and skills and ability to handle a trauma situation. The nurses can evaluate, prioritize and take the necessary measures for the situation, making sure the trauma patients receive the best possible care possible. But the nurses can simultaneously feel inadequate:

– When the trauma pager goes off, they must leave the patients in the ICU, who are also in great need of care, behind. Although there are other nurses there to cover up, this sometimes make the critical care nurses feel inadequate, says Linda Sandström.

According to the study, the nurses see it as problematic that a trauma patient, after the initial care in the emergency room, often ends up in the same room as other patients, who then also require the nurse's attention. That can make it difficult for the critical care nurse to get enough time to care for the trauma patient – and his/her relatives – who often are shocked.

– Good trauma care requires sufficient resources. Otherwise, it is easy to feel stuck between conflicting needs.

Another conclusion from Linda Sandström's study is the importance of having forums for debriefing.

– It is important that the members of the trauma team talk about how they perceived a situation.

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