The management of patients with acute abdominal pain in the emergency department: A qualitative study of nurse perceptions

Frank Donnelly, Rebecca Feo, Eva Jangland, Asa Muntlin Athlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Acute abdominal pain is a common reason for presentation to the emergency department. Understanding the role of nurses involved in management of acute abdominal pain is important for improving patient care and outcomes. The aim of this study was to understand the perceptions of emergency nurses in the management of acute abdominal pain. Methods: Using a qualitative design, a purposeful sample (n = 9) of experienced registered nurses was recruited from the emergency department of a large tertiary public hospital in South Australia. Semi-structured interviews, informed by literature describing the management of acute abdominal pain, were used to identify the perceptions of emergency nurses when caring for patients with acute abdominal pain. Results: Thematic analysis of interviews identified four themes: Centrality of Diagnosis; Busyness and Patient Management; Systems Issues; and Communication Challenges. Of the four themes, the Centrality of Diagnosis was especially important to the nurses’ sense of contribution to patient care. Care was also affected by the busyness of the environment, the systems and processes in place to manage patients and communication in the emergency department. Conclusions: The management of patients with acute abdominal pain is influenced by how nurses participate in the diagnostic process. Nurses identified their role in this process and described how this role impacted their delivery of fundamental care. Further studies of the nursing contribution to diagnosis, communication, and the systems that affect care delivery in the emergency department are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalAustralasian Emergency Care
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diagnosis
  • Nursing
  • Emergency department
  • Hospital
  • Fundamentals of care

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