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Futility = Moral Distress = Leadership Challenge

Posted Dec 12 2008 1:25pm
In a short piece in the current issue of JONA's Healthcare Law, Ethics, and Regulation, Jennifer Bell and Jonathan Breslin from Toronto argue that "nurses' experience of unresolved ethical problems is linked to high staff turnover, burnout, and leaving the profession." Distress leads to "reduced staff morale . . . decreased quality of patient care, and increased financial costs." Not to mention a 20% nursing shortage by 2020.

As a leading solution, Bell and Breslin suggest "further education in ethics" and greater "accessibility to ethics committees . . . grief counseling, and protocols for end-of-life care." This seems right. Ethics committees too often seem to focus on conflict between providers and surrogates and not so much on intra-staff conflict. But they could serve to clarify to dissenters why the patient is receiving treatment that some HCPs might think inappropriate.
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