Conflicts in the ICU: perspectives of administrators and clinicians
- First Online:
The purpose of this study is to understand conflicts in the ICU setting as experienced by clinicians and administrators and explore methods currently used to resolve such conflicts when there may be discordance between clinicians and families, caregivers or administration.
Qualitative case study methodology using semi-structured interviews was used. The sample included community and academic health science centres in 16 hospitals from across the province of Ontario, Canada. A total of 42 participants including hospital administrators and ICU clinicians were interviewed. Participants were sampled purposively to ensure representation.
The most common source of conflict in the ICU is a result of disagreement about the goals of treatment. Such conflicts arise between the ICU and referring teams (inter-team), among members of the ICU team (intra-team), and between the ICU team and patients’ family/substitute decision-maker (SDM). Inter- and intra-team conflicts often contribute to conflicts between the ICU team and families. Various themes were identified as contributing factors that may influence conflict resolution practices as well as the various consequences and challenges of conflict situations. Limitations of current conflict resolution policies were revealed as well as suggested strategies to improve practice.
There is considerable variability in dealing with conflicts in the ICU. Greater attention is needed at a systems level to support a culture aimed at prevention and resolution of conflicts to avoid increased sources of anxiety, stress and burnout.
KeywordsConflicts Dispute Conflict resolution Adult MS ICU
- 1.Heyland DK, Dodek P, Rocker G, Groll D, Gafni A, Pichora D, Shortt S, Tranmer J, Lazar N, Kutsogiannis J, Lam M, Canadian Researchers End-of-Life Network (CARENET) (2006) What matters most in end-of-life care: perceptions of seriously ill patients and their family members. CMAJ 174:627–633PubMedGoogle Scholar
- 2.Azoulay E, Pochard F, Kentish-Barnes N, Chevret S, Aboab J, Adrie C, Annane D, Bleichner G, Bollaert PE, Darmon M, Fassier T, Galliot R, Garrouste-Orgeas M, Goulenok C, Goldgran-Toledano D, Hayon J, Jourdain M, Kaidomar M, Laplace C, Larché J, Liotier J, Papazian L, Poisson C, Reignier J, Saidi F, Schlemmer B, FAMIREA Study Group (2005) Risk of post-traumatic stress symptoms in family members of intensive care unit patients. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 171:987–994CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 10.Miles MB, Huberman AM (1994) Qualitative data analysis. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
- 12.Denzin NK (2000) Handbook of qualitative research. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
- 13.Strauss A, Corbin J (1998) Basics of qualitative research techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory, 2nd edn. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 14.Creswell J (1998) Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five traditions. Sage, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
- 16.Ferrand E, Lemaire F, Regnier B, Kuteifan K, Badet M, Asfar P, Jaber S, Chagnon JL, Renault A, Robert R, Pochard F, Herve C, Brun-Buisson C, Duvaldestin P, French RESSENTI Group (2003) Discrepancies between perceptions by physicians and nursing staff of intensive care unit end-of-life decisions. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 164:1310–1315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 18.Sprung CL, Woodcock T, Sjokvist P, Ricou B, Bulow HH, Lippert A, Maia P, Cohen S, Baras M, Hovilehto S, Ledoux D, Phelan D, Wennberg E, Schobersberger W (2008) Reasons, considerations, difficulties and documentation of end-of-life decisions in European intensive care units: the ETHICUS Study. Intensive Care Med 34:271–277CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar