Communication in the intensive care unit (ICU) is challenging because of complexity, high patient acuity, uncertainty, and ethical issues. Unfortunately, conflict is common, as several studies and reviews confirm. Three types of communication challenges are found in this setting: those within the ICU team, those between the ICU team and the patient or family, and those within the patient’s family. Although specific evidence-based interventions are available for each type of communication challenge, all hinge on clinicians being culturally competent, respectful, and good communicators/listeners. Critical care advanced practice nurses promote a positive team environment, increase patient satisfaction, and model good communication for other clinicians. All advanced practice nurses, however, also need to be adept at having difficult conversations, handling conflict, and providing basic palliative care, including emotional support.

You do not currently have access to this content.