Intuition helps nurses save lives

Study reveals critical care nurses ignore clinical signs and go on gut instinct to deliver better care for patients

Educating nurses to use intuition may enhance the quality of patient care and save lives, according to a new study.

Interviews with critical care nurses in Iran revealed that following their intuition had made them more sensitive to patients needs and allowed them to provide extra assessments and care.

The research, which was conducted over six months and published in Advances in Medical Education and Practice, is the country’s first investigation into intuition in nursing.

Most of those participating in the study were educated to degree level. They described intuition as an understanding of the patient's condition beyond that displayed clinically.

Although some patients had normal vital signs, the nurses felt that they would deteriorate or die, or that a patient would recover even though other clinicians had given up hope.

The nurses also said that intuition about certain patients came to them involuntarily, with no identifiable logical reasons.

One interviewee said about a 28-year-old male undergoing angioplasty operation: ‘The patient was clinically stable, the same as other patients of the unit, and communicated with us about his family and job situation, but I felt the patient would encounter a problem.’

Another nurse said about a patient who had undergone heart surgery and survived after successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation: ‘If I was not sensitive to the patient [based on intuition], without exaggeration, the patient would be dead.’

Twelve nurses employed in critical care units of hospitals affiliated with Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences were interviewed for Use of Intuition by Critical Care Nurses: A Phenomenological Study. The authors found that those who acted on their intuition believed in its positive results and were satisfied with their work.

Read the full study here

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