Examining Nurses' Moral Distress, Acts of Moral Courage, and Influence of Ethical Climate in Caring for COVID-19 Patients During the Pandemic

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May 2024
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The problem of interest was the nurses in the United States (U.S.) and their moral actions taken in the care of COVID-19 patients. Since March 2020, the U.S. has recorded over 103 million COVID-19 cases and over 1.1 million COVID-19 deaths (CDC, 2023). Healthcare workers comprised nearly 1.2 million of the cases and 2,500 of the deaths (CDC, 2023). Nurses’ moral stances in response to pandemic pressures varied. Nurses were seen acting morally courageous by sacrificing themselves for the care of their patients, and yet a handful of nurses abused their licenses and made unethical decisions by falsifying vaccine cards. Nurses experienced unprecedented stress, leading to experiences with moral distress, but there is limited literature regarding nurses’ moral responses to moral distress during their care of COVID-19 patients. Examining the hospital environment incited by the pandemic as well as see how nurses responded to moral distress in the hospitals was imperative.

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