Article of Interest Response Letter to Editor
(Student’s name) (address) Student’s e-mail address Feb. 2, 2010 Name of Editor The American Journal of Nursing 7777 Pyramid Lane Pina Colata, CA 33133 Dear Editor, In the article titled “Whose Death Is It Anyway?”, published in the March 2014 edition of The American Journal of Nursing, Theresa Brown recounted the story of a friend of hers faced with a patient refusing chemotherapy and a doctor refusing to let him. The focus of her column was on a patient’s right to die in the way that reflects his or her own values and the health care provider’s responsibility to enable that to happen. As a student nurse, I believe that the emphasis of Mrs. Brown’s article missed an essential aspect of the story: the enormous impact of the nurse. In this case, the nurse insisted on remaining with the patient during the physician consultation and ensured that the patient was placed in hospice as he wished, even though the physician would not comply with his requests.
Without the nurse functioning as a patient advocate, the patient could have easily been manipulated into a procedure he did not want and would not have received the services he so clearly needed. The 1997 Woodhull study on Nursing and the Media reported that “less than 10% of newspaper and magazine articles are related to health care, and when nurses are discussed, they are portrayed as incidental to health care”.1 In reality, the evidence demonstrates that nurses are essential to patients receiving high- quality care. A 2006 study of 799 nonfederal acute care general hospitals in 11 states showed that increasing the number of RNs and LPNs as well as the number of patient care hours provided by RNs would result in “reduced adverse outcomes by 70,000, hospital days by 4.1 million, and deaths by 6700”.2 The ANA and other nursing organizations, along with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, have created programs with the goal of raising the public’s awareness of the importance of nurses. However, it is also the responsibility of each individual nurse to highlight the significance of the care nurses provide. Mrs. Brown would have done a great service to nurses and patients alike by championing the vital role her friend played in the compassionate care, and advocacy of a dying patient. 1 Zerwekh, J., & Claborn, J.C. (2006). Nursing Today: Transition and Trends. pp. 180. St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier. 2 Cherry, B., and Jacob, S. (2008). Contemporary Nursing: Issues, Trends and Management. pp. 37. St. Louis: MO: Mosby Elsevier.
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