Stress in the intensive care unit

Staff working with the critically ill are likely to be more stressed than some other health care professionals ( Table 1). Poor communication between intensive care unit

(ICU) staff is a particular stressor. This may be more common in nurses who are qualified but do not have postgraduate critical care training. They may feel that they lack the knowledge or clinical skills to confront doctors and this may lead to feelings of insecurity. However, those with postgraduate qualifications in critical care may be subject to increased stress when faced with conflict in treatment decisions. In addition, frustration is increased when nurses feel that their expertise is not being recognized and that they are undervalued.

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Table 1 Potential stressors for those working in the ICU

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