Meeting ethical challenges in acute nursing care as narrated by registered nurses

Nursing Ethics 12 (2):133-142 (2005)
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Five registered nurses were interviewed as part of a comprehensive investigation by five researchers into the narratives of five enrolled nurses , five registered nurses and 10 patients describing their experiences in an acute care ward at one university hospital in Sweden. The project was developed at the Centre for Nursing Science at Ö rebro University Hospital. The ward in question was opened in 1997 and provides care for a period of up to three days, during which time a decision has to be made regarding further care elsewhere or a return home. The registered nurses were interviewed concerning their experience of being in ethically difficult care situations in their work. Interpretation of the theme ‘ethical problems’ was left to the interviewees to reflect upon. A phenomenological hermeneutic method was used in all three studies. The most prominent feature revealed was the enormous responsibility present. When discussing their responsibility, their working environment and their own reactions such as stress and conscience, the registered nurses focused on the patients and the possible negative consequences for them, and showed what was at stake for the patients themselves. The nurses demonstrated both directly and indirectly what they consider to be good nursing practices. They therefore demand very high standards of themselves in their interactions with their patients. They create demands on themselves that they believe to be identical to those expected by patients



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