According to a peer-reviewed article in Nursing Ethics, moral distress has become an increasingly serious concern in the nursing profession. The implication is that moral distress is associated with "ethical climate"; in other words, when a nurse knows full well the right thing to do in any particular healthcare situation but finds that "institutional constraints make it nearly impossible to pursue the right courts of action," that nurse is exhibiting signs of moral distress. Of course moral distress can and does also result from burnout (Pauly, 2009, p. 562).
In approaching this question through research the authors discovered -- through a survey of 374 nurses in British Columbia -- that morally distressing experiences "may not be frequent, they may have significant impact when they do occur" (Pauly, 569). Indeed, some nurses had "vivid memories of morally distressing situations that had occurred many years previously" (Pauly, 569). Pauly also...
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