Patricia Benner

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“Mrs. Walsh, a woman in her 70s, was in critical condition after repeat coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Her family lived nearby when Mrs. Walsh had her first CABG surgery. They had moved out of town but returned to our institution, where the first surgery had been performed successfully. Mrs. Walsh remained critically ill and unstable for several weeks before her death. Her family was very anxious because of Mrs. Walsh’s unstable and deteriorating condition, and a family member was always with her 24 hours a day for the first few weeks.

The nurse became involved with this family while Mrs. Walsh was still in surgery, because family members were very anxious that the procedure was taking longer than it had the first time and made repeated calls to the critical care unit to ask about the patient. The nurse met with the family and offered to go into the operating room to talk with the cardiac surgeon to better inform the family of their mother’s status.

· One of the helpful things the nurse did to assist this family was to establish a consistent group of nurses to work with Mrs. Walsh, so that family members could establish trust and feel more confident about the care their mother was receiving. This eventually enabled family members to leave the hospital for intervals to get some rest. The nurse related that this was a family whose members were affluent, educated, and well informed, and that they came in prepared with lists of questions. A consistent group of nurses who were familiar with Mrs. Walsh’s particular situation helped both family members and nurses to be more satisfied and less anxious. The family developed a close relationship with the three nurses who consistently cared for Mrs. Walsh and shared with them details about Mrs. Walsh and her life.

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