Valuing dignity is integral to patients’ care, but little information is available about how this value translates into practice. In this article, 3 definitions of the word dignity are presented in case scenarios and discussed with respect to data gathered from older persons.

The very nature of the critical care setting presents a challenge to clinicians who seek to provide dignified care. The fast-paced, technological focus of critical care is necessary for caring for very ill patients, but it places great demands on nurses’ resources. Physical barriers, such as catheters, intubation, mechanical ventilation, and drainage systems, make it difficult to view patients in a humanistic way and hinder the communication necessary for ensuring dignified interactions with them. Nurses have little time to attend to the holistic needs of patients and patients’ families. Shortages in healthcare staff and increases in...

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