‘Not for resuscitation’: the student nurses' viewpoint


Mrs CE Candy 516 Ben Jonson House Barbican, London EC2Y 8DL, England


A variable proportion of hospital in-patients were deemed ‘not for resuscitation’ Using a qualitative methodology, this phenomenon was investigated, placing particular emphasis upon the effect on nursing care A total of 71 student nurses from two district general hospitals were interviewed and from transcriptions of tape recordings of the interviews, utilizing a grounded theory approach, the following conceptual categories were identified the patients, decision making, changes in nursing care? are patients and/or their relatives consulted? the unsuccessful resuscitation, the right to die, and dying and death. Up to 40% of patients on medical wards, and up to 100% of patients on geriatric and psychiatric wards, were deemed ‘not for resuscitation’ The most junior members of the medical team had the power to make this decision without consultation with the nursing staff, patients or relatives Nurses spent more time attending to patients ‘not for resuscitation’, but physiotherapists and medical staff withdrew Informants felt that subjecting patients to cardiopulmonary resuscitation was incompatiable with a dignified death Senior members of the nursing staff were felt to be unfeeling in dealing with the distress of their juniors when laying out deceased patients More discussion and joint decision making between health care professionals would alleviate some of the student nurses' distress concerning patients who are ‘not for resuscitation’