BACKGROUND: Collaborative interaction between nurses and physicians on critical care units is significantly related to mortality rates and length of stay in the units. For this reason, collaborative interaction should be an integral part of quality improvement programs. OBJECTIVES: To examine perspectives of nurses and physicians on collaborative interaction in an intensive care unit, to examine differences between groups in perceptions of collaborative interaction in the unit, and to compare this unit with units examined in a national study. METHODS: A modification of the ICU Nurse-Physician Questionnaire was used to collect data from 35 nurses and 45 physicians. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance were used to determine group scores and to examine differences between groups. RESULTS: The level of collaborative interaction in the unit was high. However, nurses and physicians and all other staff groups examined except one had significant differences in perceptions of collaborative interaction. The high level of collaborative interaction was confirmed by a comparison of the results with the results from a national sample. CONCLUSIONS: Critical care units can use this example to incorporate an assessment of the level of collaborative interaction into their quality improvement program.
Results from several research studies combined with increasing public tensions surrounding physician-assisted suicide have fueled a growing awareness of the inadequacies of end-of-life care. Investigators also suggest that intensive care unit nurses have a limited role in end-of-life decision making and care planning. This article explores cultural issues influencing end-of-life care in intensive care units, explores factors surrounding the limited involvement of critical care nurses in end-of-life decision making and care planning, and offers recommendations for changing nursing practice. Because improving end-of-life care will require cultural changes, an understanding of the cultural issues involved is needed. Recommendations for changing nursing practice include a model of end-of-life care that incorporates the goals of both cure and comfort care, as well as a shared decision-making process. Nurses are essential to improving end-of-life care in today's intensive care units.