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The lived experience of registered nurses involved in the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration in a persistent vegetative state PVS patient 

Kim Hollows, R Comp N., Staff Nurse, Dunedin Hospital 

Reference: Hollows,K. (1995). The lived experience of registered nurses involved in the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration in a persistent vegetative state PVS patient Nursing Praxis in New Zealand 10(1), 28-37

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experience of five Registered Nurses involved in the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration in a persistent Vegetative State (PVS) patient.  Three female and two male nurses who had been involved in the care of a PVS patient within the last ten years were interviewed.  The Phenomenological design was used because it provided richness and clarity to the issues raised.  Three major findings were identified as positive significant experiences for these nurses:  support through ‘talking’: coping through ‘thinking’; and, decision making being kept ‘in-house’ (family and central care giving team)”. 

Introduction 

The bioethics research centre at the University of Otago have described PVS as “a state of unconsciousness (i.e. loss of self awareness) where the body cyclically awakes and sleeps but expresses no behavioural or cerebral metabolic evidence of possessing cognitive function or being able to respond in a learned manner to external events or stimuli” (1993, p4).

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