Get access

Valuing dignity in patients in a vegetative state on an intensive rehabilitation ward: improvement project


  • Sara Buchini RN, BSN, MSN,

    1. Long Term Rehabilitation Unit, Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Udine, Italy
    Current affiliation:
    1. Complex Structure of Pediatric Oncohematology, Scientific Research Institute and Hospital for Pediatrics “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Rosanna Quattrin MD,

    Chair of Hygiene, Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medical and Biological Sciences, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Alessandra Zampieron RN, BSN, MSN, DDSI

    1. Coordinator in Bachelor in Pediatric Science of Nursing, University of Padua - Padua University Hospital, Padua, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author



To identify the causes that could hinder the provision of dignified care to patients in a vegetative state.


In Italy, the incidence and prevalence of people in a vegetative state are increasing. The team members have a clear understanding of the meaning of being mortal and the value of human dignity.


A descriptive study design was used in an intensive care ward in Northern Italy. An anonymous list with negative factors must be drawn up.


Thirty-two team members participated in the study. A lack of time and specific knowledge regarding the care of patients in a vegetative state, involvement of the family and repetition in assistance delivery were the most frequent causes that hinder provision of care to patients in a vegetative state.

Discussion and conclusions

The provision of dignity for patients is not an issue related only to the staff in direct contact with patients/clients, but also concerns the entire health care facility (physical structure and organisation).

Implications for Nursing Management

The nursing coordinator has an important role in the promotion of care based on the respect for the patient's dignity, in the active involvement of staff and in the delivery of quality services to users.