Communication and conflict management training for clinical bioethics committees.

Johns Hopkins Medicine's Howard County General Hospital, 5755 Cedar Lane, Columbia, MD 21044, USA.
HEC Forum 10/2009; 21(4):341-9. DOI: 10.1007/s10730-009-9116-7
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Nurses in all clinical settings encounter ethical issues that frequently lead to moral distress. This critical incident study explored nurses’ descriptions of ethically difficult situations to identify risk factors and early indicators of ethical conflicts.Methods: Employing the critical incident technique, researchers developed a questionnaire that collected information on ethically difficult situations, their risk factors and early indicators, nurse actions, and situational outcomes. Two nurse researchers independently analyzed and categorized data using a constant comparison technique.Findings: Most of the ethically difficult situations pertained to end-of-life care for children and adults. Conflicts in interpersonal relationships were prevalent. Nurses were especially moved by patient and family suffering and concerned about patient vulnerability, harm-benefit ratio, and patient autonomy. Researchers discovered risk factor categories for patients, families, healthcare providers, and health systems. Additionally, researchers found subcategories in six major categories of early indicators: signs of conflict, patient suffering, nurse distress, ethics violation, unrealistic expectations, and poor communication.Conclusions: Nurses are keenly aware of pertinent risk factors and early indicators of unfolding ethical conflicts. Many nurses reported feeling powerless in the face of ethical conflict. Research that develops interventions to strengthen nurses’ voices in ethically difficult situation is warranted.Clinical Relevance: Nurses are in a key position to identify patient situations with a high risk for ethical conflict. Initiating early ethics consultation and interventions can alter the course of pending conflicts and diminish the potential for patient and family suffering and nurses’ moral distress.
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the role of physicians on HEC including structural and process features. Four committees were selected from among 12 volunteering to participate with 12 sessions observed. Power analysis (0.8) confirmed an adequate number of communication exchanges, and no statistical significant difference (p < 0.05) among two prior surveys affirmed the sample. Data collection included established questionnaires and communication analyses with a tested method. Results revealed physician presence was robust and similar to prior reports on HEC structure; however, physicians rated their role effectiveness lower than other occupations and lower than overall committee effectiveness. Communication exchanges representing process revealed three positive communication types, and consistent attempts to aid committee functions through consensual processes that also were substantiated by non-physician members. Findings suggested more attention to both structural and process functions of HEC and their members.
    HEC Forum 12/2010; 22(4):275-86.
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    ABSTRACT: This manuscript proposes a proactive framework for preventing or mitigating disruptive ethical conflicts that often result from delayed or avoided conversations about the ethics of care. Four components of the framework are explained and illustrated with evidenced-based actions. Clinical implications of adopting a prevention-based, system-wide ethics framework are discussed. While some aspects of ethically-difficult situations are unique, system patterns allow some issues to occur repeatedly-often with lingering effects such as healthcare providers' disengagement and moral distress (McAndrew et al. Journal of Trauma Nursing 18(4):221-230, 2011), compromised inter-professional relationships (Rosenstein and O'Daniel American Journal of Nursing, 105(1):54-64, 2005), weakened ethical climates (Pauly et al. HEC Forum 24:1-11, 2012), and patient safety concerns (Cimiotti et al. American Journal of Infection Control 40:486-490, 2012). This work offers healthcare providers and clinical ethicists a framework for developing a comprehensive set of proactive, ethics-specific, and evidence-based strategies for mitigating ethical conflicts. Furthermore, the framework aims to encourage innovative research and novel ways of collaborating to reduce such conflicts and the moral distress that often results.
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