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Experience of being a low priority patient during waiting time at an emergency department

Authors Dahlén, Westin, Adolfsson A

Received 30 October 2011

Accepted for publication 30 November 2011

Published 16 January 2012 Volume 2012:5 Pages 1—9


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Ingrid Dahlen1,2, Lars Westin1, Annsofie Adolfsson1
1School of Life Sciences, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden; 2Emergency Department, Skaraborg Hospital, Skövde, Sweden

Background: Work in the emergency department is characterized by fast and efficient medical efforts to save lives, but can also involve a long waiting time for patients. Patients are given a priority rating upon their arrival in the clinic based on the seriousness of their problem, and nursing care for lower priority patients is given a lower prioritization. Regardless of their medical prioritization, all patients have a right to expect good nursing care while they are waiting. The purpose of this study was to illustrate the experience of the low prioritized patient during their waiting time in the emergency department.
Methods: A phenomenological hermeneutic research method was used to analyze an interview transcript. Data collection consisted of narrative interviews. The interviewees were 14 patients who had waited more than three hours for surgical, orthopedic, or other medical care.
Results: The findings resulted in four different themes, ie, being dependent on care, being exposed, being vulnerable, and being secure. Lower priority patients are not paid as much attention by nursing staff. Patients reported feeling powerless, insulted, and humiliated when their care was delayed without their understanding what was happening to them. Not understanding results in exposure that violates self-esteem.
Conclusion: The goal of the health care provider must be to minimize and prevent suffering, prevent feelings of vulnerability, and to create conditions for optimal patient well being.

Keywords: emergency department, patients, waiting times, nursing staff

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