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Some ethical conflicts in emergency care
University of Borås, School of Health Science.
2014 (English)In: Nursing Ethics, ISSN 0969-7330, E-ISSN 1477-0989Article in journal (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Abstract Background: Decision-making and assessment in emergency situations are complex and result many times in ethical conflicts between different healthcare professionals. Aim: To analyse and describe situations that can generate ethical conflict among nurses working in emergency situations. Methods: Qualitative analysis. A total of 16 emergency nurses took part in interviews and a focus group. Ethical considerations: Organisational approval by the University Hospital, and informed consent and confidentiality were ensured before conducting the research. Result/conclusion: Two categories emerged: one in ‘ethical issues’ and one in ‘emotions and feelings in caring’. The four ethical subcategories are presented: Autonomy, the first sub category: first, the nurse’s ability to practise care on an emergency ward and, second, to support the patient and/or relatives in terms of care and medical treatment. The conflicts arise when the nurse ends up in the middle between the patient and the physician responsible for the diagnosis and treatment from a nature scientific perspective. Reification of injured body: patient was often reified and fragmented, becoming just a leg or arm. Different factors contributed in this perspective. Pain: pain relief was often inadequate but more effectively treated in the emergency medical services than at the emergency department. The nurses highlighted the phenomenon of suffering because they felt that pain was only an object, forgetting the patients’ care need, like separating mind from body. Death: the nurses felt that the emergency services are only prepared to save lives and not to take care of the needs of patients with ‘end-of-life’ care. Another issue was the lack of ethical guidelines during a cardiac arrest. Resuscitation often continues without asking about the patient’s ‘previous wishes’ in terms of resuscitation or not. In these situations, the nurses describe an ethical conflict with the physician in performing their role as the patient’s advocate. The nurses express feelings of distress, suffering, anger and helplessness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications Ltd. , 2014.
Keyword [en]
emergency medical services, ethic, Ethics in emergency
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Integrated Caring Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-2012DOI: 10.1177/0969733014549880PubMedID: 25335919Local ID: 2320/14575OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-2012DiVA: diva2:870093
Available from: 2015-11-13 Created: 2015-11-13 Last updated: 2017-05-02

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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