PSYCHIATRIC LIAISON SERVICES

TO THE CRITICAL CARE NURSING STAFF

 Donald Watson, M.D.

 Clinical instructor, Department of Psychiatry
University of California, Irvine Medical Center
Orange, California

Critical Care Update! 4: 5 (1977)


The working environment of intensive care nurses is a constant source of stress: the patient's needs are intense and demanding, the unit is often noisy and distracting, remarks by pressured doctors can be demeaning and overbearing, and anxious families may require more attention than the already overburdened nurse might have to give. Despite these stresses, the nurse must perform his or her primary job—applying highly technical skills to both person and machine, and at the same time, being available as the primary human contact for distressed patients and families. Few people are both willing and able to perform in this highly specialized area. Even among those who succeed at it, there are casualties: physical and emotional exhaustion, disrupted personal relationships, social isolation, and depression are endemic. One of the goals of liaison psychiatry is to help alleviate these manifestations of stress on the job. Other tasks are:

"WHAT IS LIAISON PSYCHIATRY?"

 "WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE CRITICAL CARE NURSE?"
 

 "HOW IMPORTANT IS A SUPPORTING RELATIONSHIP OF THE NURSE TO PATIENTS AND FAMILIES?"

 "HOW DOES THE HOSPITAL COMMUNITY AFFECT PATIENT CARE?"

 "HOW CAN THE LIAISON PSYCHIATRIST HELP NURSING ADMINISTRATION?"