Many factors influence an individual’s response to critical illness. Factors include age and developmental stage, experiences with illness and hospitalization, family relationships and social support, other stressful experiences and coping mechanisms, and personal philosophies about life, death, and spirituality.
Stressors related to both treatment and the critical care environment affect patients. In one study, patients identified many different stressors: the need for nursing presence, nightmares, delusions, confusion, fear of transfer from the critical care unit, inability to remember, disorientation, and lack of preparation for the critical care experience. Many individuals suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after treatment in a critical care setting.
The critical care hospitalization of a loved one is considered a crisis situation that affects both patient and family. The stress experienced by the family may be detected by the patient, and the patient can suffer as a result of a family member’s stress. The family is an integral part of the healing process of the critically ill patient, and critical care nursing interventions must also focus on the family. Family-centered care is the concept of treating the patient and family as an inseparable entity, recognizing that illness or injury of one family member invariably affects all other family members.
Families are in a vulnerable state due to the stress they are experiencing and the fact they are in foreign surroundings. For many families, both the hospital and the critical care unit are “alien” environments. Most family members have never or only rarely seen a critical care unit. The machines and monitors that are commonplace can be frightening and overwhelming to them
How family reacts to critical care can affect the patient. As nurses we need to explore ways to involve the family.
For this discussion question please discuss the following:
· What are the advantages and disadvantages of having family present during diagnostic procedures?
· What is the latest research and evidence-based practice related to visitation? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
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