Identifying Moral Distress : Ethical Concerns Of Intensive Care Unit Nurses

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Identifying Moral Distress: Ethical Concerns of Intensive Care Unit Nurses Travis J. Hargreaves Clarkson College Abstract Moral distress is an ethical issue recently recognized in literature as afflicting nurses in the intensive care unit (ICU). ICU nurses often face conflicting dilemmas where the nurse knows the ethically and clinically correct course of action, but feels powerless to act due to numerous internal and external constraints. This creates feelings of frustration, isolation, and anxiety eventually leading to burnout or leaving the profession altogether. Due to an already approaching nursing shortage, healthcare organizations should put more emphasis on nursing satisfaction and retention in the workplace. This can be accomplished by addressing nursing experiences of moral distress. This correlation study proposes if using the 21-item questionnaire Moral Distress Scale-Revised (MDS-R) in the adult critical care unit properly identifies the intensity of moral distress and frequency of its occurrence. Identifying the primary issue allows further understanding and narrows interventions to focus to the true problem. Overall, results have shown that ICU nurses experience moderate to high levels of moral distress. These findings support the need for proper identification of moral distress, with further research focusing on effective interventions aimed at alleviating moral distress based on the identified root cause. Identifying Moral
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