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A Patient's Suicidal Ideations and a Clinical Nurse Leader's Responsibility

Kusheba, Jody, MSN, RN; Mulvihill, Karen, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, ACHPN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: December 2018 - Volume 20 - Issue 6 - p 512–518
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000501
Ethics Series

Nurses caring for patients at end of life are faced with many ethical dilemmas. A patient's desire to commit suicide affects not only the person who commits suicide but also the patient's family, friends, and health care professionals. This fictional case study demonstrates an ethical dilemma when Beth, a novice hospice clinical nurse leader, is at a home care visit for Joan, a patient with end-stage ovarian cancer, and Joan expresses her wish to commit suicide. The case raises issues about patient autonomy, patient confidentiality, nursing professional code of ethics, beneficence, and whether the nurse’s actions were enough to prevent the death.

Jody Kusheba, MSN, RN, is staff registered nurse, Western Connecticut Health Network, Danbury, Connecticut.

Karen Mulvihill, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, ACHPN, is director, Palliative Care Services, Western Connecticut Health Network, Danbury, Connecticut.

Address correspondence to Jody Kusheba, MSN, RN, Western Connecticut Health Network, Fairfield University, 72 Cottage St, Monroe, CT 06468 (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2018 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.