A Phenomenological Study of the Lived Experiences of Nurses Weaning COVID-19 Patients From Mechanical Ventilation

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Abstract Background: Nurse-led ventilatory weaning has shown to decrease the duration of mechanical ventilation of patients, but this practice has not been researched during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States. Objective: To explore the meaning of the lived experiences of intensive care unit nurses in caring for COVID-19 patients being weaned off of mechanical ventilation. Methods: This phenomenological qualitative study involved open-ended interviews with registered nurses working in intensive care units (ICU) across the US during the Coronavirus pandemic. Results: The length of time, severity of the disease, high levels of sedation, and the instability of COVID-19 patients influenced the weaning process from the nurses’ perspective. In addition, the time available, short staffing, lack of training, personal protective equipment shortages, and increased accountability inhibited the nurse’s ability to properly lead the weaning process. Some nurses communicated a lack of confidence and knowledge to lead the weaning process, but voiced the invaluable support from the interdisciplinary healthcare team, especially from respiratory therapy. Conclusion: In regards to the ventilatory weaning process of COVID-19 patients, nurses are a major contributor to the healthcare team and driving the patient’s plan of care. However, the barriers and differences the Coronavirus disease presents needs to be addressed in regards to nurses leading the weaning process off of mechanical ventilation.



nurse-led, weaning, nurse-led weaning, ventilatory weaning, mechanical ventilation, COVID-19, Coronavirus, nursing, intensive care unit, critical care, mechanical ventilator