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Provider Perspectives on the Influence of Family on Nursing Home Resident Transfers to the Emergency Department: Crises at the End of Life.

  • Author(s): Stephens, Caroline
  • Halifax, Elizabeth
  • Bui, Nhat
  • Lee, Sei J
  • Harrington, Charlene
  • Shim, Janet
  • Ritchie, Christine
  • et al.
Abstract

Background. Nursing home (NH) residents often experience burdensome and unnecessary care transitions, especially towards the end of life. This paper explores provider perspectives on the role that families play in the decision to transfer NH residents to the emergency department (ED). Methods. Multiple stakeholder focus groups (n = 35 participants) were conducted with NH nurses, NH physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, NH administrators, ED nurses, ED physicians, and a hospitalist. Stakeholders described experiences and challenges with NH resident transfers to the ED. Focus group interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts and field notes were analyzed using a Grounded Theory approach. Findings. Providers perceive that families often play a significant role in ED transfer decisions as they frequently react to a resident change of condition as a crisis. This sense of crisis is driven by 4 main influences: insecurities with NH care; families being unprepared for end of life; absent/inadequate advance care planning; and lack of communication and agreement within families regarding goals of care. Conclusions. Suboptimal communication and lack of access to appropriate and timely palliative care support and expertise in the NH setting may contribute to frequent ED transfers.

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