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NICU Nurses' Lived Experience: Caring for Infants With Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Maguire, Denise PhD, RN, CNL; Webb, Mary PhD, RN; Passmore, Denise PhD; Cline, Genieveve DNP, NNP-BC

Section Editor(s): CATLIN, ANITA

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0b013e3182677bc1
Ethical Issues in Newborn Care

PURPOSE: The primary aim of this qualitative methods study was to describe the lived experiences of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses with ethical and morally challenging issues.

SUBJECTS: The target population for the study was registered nurses working in the NICU. Interviews were completed with 16 nurses from 1 hospital.

DESIGN: A phenomenological method design was used to describe NICU nurses' lived experiences with ethical and moral issues encountered in the NICU.

METHODS: After obtaining signed consent, the principal investigator interviewed all participants, using a semistructured interview guide consisting of open-ended questions.

MAIN OUTCOMES: Ethical and moral distress related to neonatal abstinence syndrome was the predominant outcome.

PRINCIPAL RESULTS: Caring for infants, coping with families, and discharging infants home were the major concerns voiced by nurses in this study.

CONCLUSIONS: Nurses in this study struggled with issues of beneficence and nonmaleficence and were not aware of scientific evidence that guides methadone management of pregnant women.

College of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa (Drs Maguire, Webb, and Passmore); and All Children's Hospital, St Petersburg, Florida (Dr Cline).

Correspondence: Denise Maguire, PhD, RN, CNL, College of Nursing, University of South Florida, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, MDC 22, Tampa, FL 33612 (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2012 National Association of Neonatal Nurses