Critical care nurses' experiences of helicopter transfers

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Intensive care is conducted in intensive care units (ICUs), and also during the transportation of critically ill people.


The aim of the study was to describe critical care nurses' (CCNs) experiences of nursing critically ill patients during helicopter transport.


Seven CCNs, five women and two men participated in this study.


Seven participants from two centres in Sweden were recruited. The design uses an inductive, qualitative approach with data collected by means of qualitative interviews with seven CCNs.


The interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to qualitative thematic content analysis.


The analysis resulted in one theme which is safe nursing care, but sometimes feeling afraid and six categories as follows: experiencing the care environment as an ICU with limited space; a loud environment complicates communication; planning and checking to minimize risks; experience and good co-operation; facing the dilemma of allowing relatives to accompany the patient or not; feeling the patient's and their own fear.


CCNs plan for the transportation and control of patients to improve patient safety, but can sometimes feel afraid. Good co-operation is necessary.

Relevance to clinical practice:

The possibilities for CCNs to provide effective nursing care in helicopters are good, although in some cases limited by the environmental conditions.

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