To the Editors:
It is with great concern and disquiet that I reread the article titled “Moral Distress of Staff Nurses in a Medical Intensive Care Unit” (November 2005: 523–530).
While acknowledging the limitations postulated by the authors regarding small sample size, I must take issue with the way in which moral distress is presented in terms of critical care nursing’s scope of influence. In the first paragraph of the article, moral distress is defined as “painful feelings and/or psychological disequilibrium . . . in which the ethically right course of action is known but cannot be acted upon” [emphasis added].
It seems to me that we professional nursing staff have a tremendous talent for giving away our power to others in critical situations. This impression, in my opinion, seems to be reinforced as I read further in the article. The top 5 items associated with moral distress all...