Introduction: For nurses, moral distress leads to burnout, attrition, compassion fatigue, and patient avoidance.
Methods: Using a quantitative, cross-sectional, and descriptive design, we assessed the frequency, intensity, and type of moral distress in 51 emergency nurses in 1 community hospital using a 21-item, self-report, Likert-type questionnaire.
Results: Results showed a total mean moral distress level of 3.18, indicative of overall low moral distress.
Discussion: Situations with the highest levels of moral distress were related to the competency of health care providers and following family wishes to continue life support, also known as futile care. Moral distress was the reason given by 6.6% of registered nurses for leaving a previous position, 20% said that they had considered leaving a position but did not, and 13.3% stated that they are currently considering leaving their position because of moral distress.
Keywords: Burnout; Emergency nurses; Ethical dilemmas; Moral distress.
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