Experiences of relatives in an emergency department accompanying a non-critically ill family member: A hermeneutic study
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The numbers of patients with non-urgent illness or injury attending Emergency Departments (ED) at public hospitals is increasing. An end result of these increasing numbers is longer waiting times especially for people in the nonurgent category. Relatives who accompany their ill family member to ED are also affected by lengthy waiting times. A visit to the ED is a stressful event for patients and their relatives. There is ample evidence in the literature in regard to family members’ experiences while attending ED or an intensive care unit with a critically ill family member. However there is little information available surrounding relatives accompanying a non-critically ill family member to ED. This study used a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to interpret the experiences of relatives attending ED with a relative whose was deemed noncritical on arrival at hospital. Five relatives from the Rotorua region participated in the study. Qualitative data was gathered through the use of conversational open-ended interviews. The analysis was guided by van Manen (1990). Three essential themes were revealed from the data; being thrown - ending up in ED, the variable experience of time/space, and the variable experience of other. These themes and their sub themes describe the experiences of a small group of relatives who spent greater than two hours waiting in ED. The findings suggest that being in ED can be a worrying time for families regardless of the urgency status given to their ill relative. The results of this study will remind hospital personnel of the often stressful nature of attending ED, which in turn, may improve care given to relatives.