Quebec: discontinuation of palliative care and misgivings of nurses

Publié le : 22 November 2013

 A study entitled, "Amélioration des soins de fin de vie" (“Improvement in end of life care”) reveals “the complex nature of the work of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) nurses” where approximately 20% of patients die. Co-signed by 11 authors, the study shows that when a doctor decides to stop palliative care, nurses feel demoralised.  One of them admitted, "I feel like the Grim Reaper".     

Lise Fillion, one of the authors of the study, explained that "the debate centres on what doctors think" and asked for thought to be given to nurses, who also make decisions. Nurses’ opinions should also be taken into consideration, she pointed out, because although they often disagree with medical decisions, it is because they have not been heard and have "the impression of ending a person’s life". 
According to five sub-studies carried out by nurses practising throughout Quebec between 2007 and 2012, this feeling of malaise can be attributed to a lack of training. As one nurse confirmed: "New nurses are thrown into panic when they are told that treatments have to be stopped". Faced with the "distress displayed by nurses" and "the need to improve the end of life care available", the authors believe that "programmes should be developed, initiated and evaluated as a matter of urgency in order to assist ICU nurses to administer high quality end of life [palliative] care". 

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