Published On: Mon, Jul 20th, 2015

Are ER nurses suffering from death anxiety?

Hospital leaders know that nurses are at high risk for job-related stress, which often leads to physical and mental conditions like fatigue or depression. As a result of their job burnout, they often become disengaged from their work, which can then lead to mistakes or patient safety issues.

Medical Team Working On Patient In Emergency RoomNow, new findings published in the journal Emergency Nurse reveal that emergency nurses may be more susceptible to thanatophobia, or “death anxiety”.

Being surrounded by life-and-death situations can take a serious toll on the mental well-being of ER nurses’ and paramedics warns Mike Brady, a doctoral research student lecturer and clinical supervisor paramedic at the Swansea University Open University South West Ambulance Service.

Nurses working in emergency settings should be made aware of the risks of death anxiety and given access to interventions to prevent it from affecting their physical and mental health.

To fight death anxiety, Brady recommends hospitals create death education programs which could help reduce levels of death anxiety by preparing nursing students and nurses to confront their beliefs about death, and staff involved in critical incidents should be assessed against a trauma risk-management tool. These education programs could also help ER nurses prepare mentally for the strain of working in these areas.

Another potential solution: leaders can rotate emergency workers’ schedules to prevent staff from being overly exposed to death anxiety.

Wayne Becker

Wayne Becker is a visionary, dynamic nursing leader with over 20 years of clinical expertise and 10+ years of management experience. Experienced in multiple organizational settings from individual community hospitals to tertiary, academic facilities. Demonstrated excellence in quality critical care and emergency care and fiscal accountability. Change agent who leads process improvement initiatives as well as managed staff through significant technology upgrades. Developed mentoring relationships that prepared staff at all levels for advanced professional opportunities.

Specialties: Trauma Nursing, Critical Care Nursing, Emergency Nursing, and pre-hospital Emergency patient care. Utilization Management and leadership experience in for-profit and non-profit environments. Union and non-union leadership experience. Multiple EDIS and CPOE platforms.

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