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Crit Care Nurse. 2012 Apr;32(2):65-72. doi: 10.4037/ccn2012929.

Developing ethical skills: from sensitivity to action.

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  • 1Department of Health Restoration and Systems Care Management, University of Texas Health Science Center, TX 78229, USA. robichaux@uthscsa.edu

Abstract

Acute and critical care nurses routinely encounter ethical "quandaries" such as providing perceived futile care. Other everyday ethically important occurrences may go unrecognized, however, thus diminishing their importance to moral nursing practice. This column presents a framework that may assist in developing specific skills to recognize and engage in both critical and everyday ethical situations with confidence. James Rest's Four Component Model addresses the role of the moral practitioner from initial recognition that an ethical situation exists to implementation of a justifiable action. Patient/provider scenarios are used to illustrate components of Rest's model followed by an approach to distinguish ethical from nonethical situations. Practical strategies to enhance ethical skills such as development of nursing ethics groups and providing continuing ethics education also are presented.

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