Moral distress in emergency departments : experiences of registered nurses

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Reedyk, Kevin
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Health Sciences
The purpose of the study is to determine whether registered nurses are experiencing moral distress while working in emergency departments, and if so, the causes and their reactions to the phenomenon. Registered nurses currently employed in an in emergency department engaged in semi-structured interviews to examine the phenomenon. This study utilized narrative inquiry research design as advocated by Reissman (2008). Findings indicated that registered nurses are experiencing moral distress in emergency departments related to myriad pressures and demands forcing simultaneous decisions primarily related to use of the finite number of resources at their disposal and the provision of futile care. Participants’ reactions to moral distress included acknowledging that they will continue to find themselves in morally distressing situations, passion for their jobs despite encountering morally stressing situations, and an ability to manage negative effects of moral distress related to their personalities and the nature of the working relationships that exist within emergency departments. Findings indicate that health care administrators, staff, and physicians require increased awareness of the phenomenon if they wish to address and mitigate these situations.
coping , emergency rooms , moral distress , registered nurses , working relationships