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Leadership & Professional Development

An Inpatient Surgical Oncology Unit’s Experience With Moral Distress: Part I

Susan Bohnenkamp
Nicole Pelton
Pamela G. Reed
Cindy J. Rishel
ONF 2015, 42(3), 308-310 DOI: 10.1188/15.ONF.308-310

Have you ever walked onto an oncology unit and heard any of the following statements: “We do not have enough staffing to care for these complex patients.” “There has to be something more we can do for his pain.” “Why are we continuing aggressive treatment on this patient when you can clearly see he is dying?” and “Administration does not support us, and they do not know what is happening on the unit.” All of these are examples of situations that may cause moral distress for an oncology nurse. Although moral distress has been variously defined and is a concept of continued study, it provides basic ideas that are helpful in framing some of the ethical challenges faced by oncology nurses.

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