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High technology and nursing: ethical dilemmas nurses and physicians face on high-technology units in Norway

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Abstract:

BUNCH EH. Nursing Inquiry 2002; 9: 187–195

High technology and nursing: ethical dilemmas nurses and physicians face on high-technology units in Norway

Results from two studies of ethical dilemmas nurses and doctors experience on two high-technology units are compared and discussed. The qualitative comparative methodology of grounded theory was used to generate theoretical frameworks grounded in the empirical realities of the units. The ethical dilemmas they faced were related to: treating the one vs. the common good; end of life questions; and resource allocations with inadequate staffing. Similarities were related to intensity and urgency of nursing care and patient treatment, clear nursing ideologies based on treating humans within a framework of hope, embracing technology and scarce resources. Differences between the two study units were patient diagnosis, hierarchical structure on one unit while one had a vertical structure and decision-making processes, and finally how nursing knowledge and autonomy were used. The two studies demonstrated that clinical, ethical and administrative interactions and decisions are highly compounded, stressful and intertwined.

Keywords: clinical practice; ethical dilemmas; grounded theory; high technology units; nursing

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1800.2002.00143.x

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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