Separation of conjoined twins: experiences of perioperative nurses and their recommendations

Authors

  • K. Martin-McDonald phd, med, bappsc, rn,

    Corresponding author
    1. Senior Lecturer, Department of Nursing, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba
      Dr Kristine Martin-McDonald, Department of Nursing, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba. QLD. 4350, Australia; Tel.: 61 0746311576; Fax: 61 0746311653; E-mail: kmartinm@usq.edu.au.
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  • P. McIntyre bn, gdn, rn ,

    1. Nurse Unit Manager, Operating Room Suite, Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane
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  • D. Hegney phd, ba (hons), dne, cohn, cnnn

    1. Director, Centre for Rural and Remote Area Health, University of Southern Queensland; University of Queenslandand; Queensland Health; Queensland, Australia
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Dr Kristine Martin-McDonald, Department of Nursing, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba. QLD. 4350, Australia; Tel.: 61 0746311576; Fax: 61 0746311653; E-mail: kmartinm@usq.edu.au.

Abstract

Background:  Within an 8-month period, an unprecedented and historical first in Queensland, Australia, the perioperative nurses were members of teams involved in the surgical separation of two sets of conjoined twins. Little is known about the (dis)stress that some of these perioperative nurses experienced nor how best to support them during such experiences.

Aim:  The aim of this paper is to report on the qualitiative study that explored the experiences of those perioperative nurses involved in the surgical separation of cojoined twins and from their stories propose recommendations to support perioperative nurses who are confronted with such workplace experiences.

Methods:  Using a narrative methodology, nine perioperative nurses shared their stories of being involved in the surgical separation of conjoined twins in Australia. Narrative and thematic analyses were conducted and recommendations to support perioperative nurses through workplace (dis)stress were identified. Participants validated the findings and recommendations.

Findings:  The analyses revealed the themes of professionalism, teamwork, ‘them vs. us’ and emotional loads.

Discussion:  The sensationalism around the rarity of conjoined twins brought an intensive intrusiveness from the world media. As a result, secrecy within the hospital about the conjoined twin cases created divisions between those perioperative nurses on the teams and those not. The processes and outcomes of the two surgical cases were in contrast to each other. For some perioperative nurses this caused distress. It is essential that professional support is offered in a way in which the perioperative nurse can take it up without fear of negative judgement.

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