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AACN Adv Crit Care. 2006 Apr-Jun;17(2):161-8.

Defining and addressing moral distress: tools for critical care nursing leaders.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University, School of Nursing and Children's Center, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


Nurse clinicians may experience moral distress when they are unable to translate their moral choices into moral action. The costs of unrelieved moral distress are high; ultimately, as with all unresolved professional conflicts, the quality of patient care suffers. As a systematic process for change, this article offers the AACN's Model to Rise Above Moral Distress, describing four A's: ask, affirm, assess, and act. To help critical care nurses working to address moral distress, the article identifies 11 action steps they can take to develop an ethical practice environment.

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