Between care for others and self-care: intensive care nursing in times of the COVID-19 pandemic [Book Review]

Ethik in der Medizin 33 (1):51-70 (2021)
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Definition of the problem The COVID-19 pandemic poses a considerable challenge to the capacity and functionality of intensive care. This concerns not only resources but, above all, the physical and psychological boundaries of nursing professionals. The question of how care for others and self-care of nurses in intensive care units are related to each other in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been addressed in public and scientific discourse so far. Arguments The present contribution reflects this relationship with reference to the Code of Ethics of the International Council of Nurses, particularly considering principlism and the Care Ethics according to Joan Tronto. As a result, it shows a corridor of ethically justifiable care with several borders, above all: self-care must not be given up completely for the benefit of care for others, and a categorical subordination of care for others to self-care is ethically not justifiable. Conclusion The article makes an important contribution to a differentiated ethical consideration of the rights and responsibilities of intensive care nurses as moral actors within the pandemic in Germany. It, thus, provides a first starting point for a broad social and political discourse which is urgently needed not only during but also after the pandemic in order to improve the situation of intensive care nurses and those who are cared for.



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Anna-Henrikje Seidlein
Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald