Healthcare ethics committees can be valuable resources but are largely underutilized by nurses. The purpose of this project was to review ethics concerns and educational needs of nurses in a large, integrated healthcare delivery system. Seven themes were identified: organizational issues, nonbeneficial care, withdrawing life-sustaining therapies, discharge disposition, challenging patients and families, communication with physicians, and capacity versus competence. A process was then developed to better engage nurses in ethical discussions.
Catherine McCarty, PhD, is a scientist and clinical ethicist. She employs stakeholder engagement in her research and teaches medical ethics to students at the University of Minnesota, Duluth campus.
Robert Barnes, MA, is a staff chaplain at St. Mary's Medical Center, Duluth, Minnesota, focused primarily on critical care ministry and clinical ethics.
Monica Thomas, RN, is a 35-year employee of St. Mary's Medical Center, working primarily in ICU, including neonatal and surgical. She has been an ethics committee member for 4 years.
Jonathan Sande, MD, is an oncologist and chairs the ethics committee at St. Mary's Medical Center and is the director of advance care planning at Essentia Health.
Annette Ouellette, APRN, RN, is an advanced practice nurse and director of nursing informatics. She has been a member of the St. Mary's education and consultation committee for 10 years.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Accepted by peer-review 7/9/2018.