Weaning from mechanical ventilation: factors that influence intensive care nurses' decision-making

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Abstract

Aim:

The aim of the study was to describe the factors that influence intensive care nurses' decision-making when weaning patients from mechanical ventilation.

Background:

Patients with failing vital function may require respiratory support. Weaning from mechanical ventilation is a process in which the intensive care nurse participates in both planning and implementation.

Design and method:

A qualitative approach was used. The data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews with 22 intensive care nurses. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using qualitative content analysis.

Findings:

One theme emerged: ‘A complex nursing situation where the patient receives attention and which is influenced by the current care culture’. There was consensus that the overall assessment of the patient made by the intensive care nurse was the main factor that influenced the decision-making process. This assessment was a continuous process consisting of three factors: the patient's perspective as well as her/his physical and mental state. On the other hand, there was a lack of consensus about what other factors influenced the decision-making process. These factors included the care culture constituted by the characteristics of the team, the intensive care nurses' professional skills, personalities and ability to be present.

Conclusions and relevance to clinical practice:

The individual overall assessment of the patient enabled nursing care from a holistic perspective. Furthermore, the weaning process can be more effective and potential suffering reduced by creating awareness of the care culture's impact on the decision-making process.

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