Nurses’ experiences of ethical preparedness for public health emergencies and healthcare disasters: a systematic review of qualitative evidence

 

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Evidence suggests that nurses, like other emergency co-workers, are grossly under-prepared for making the ‘tough moral choices’ that often have to be made during a mass casualty event.

This review highlights the lack of published research on nurses’ direct experiences of being prepared for and managing the ethical challenges posed by catastrophic public health emergencies and healthcare disasters. The under preparation for making ‘tough moral choices’ leaves both nurses and the public vulnerable to the otherwise preventable harms of making ‘unjust and regrettable decisions’ during catastrophic events. The findings of this review highlight the need for more focussed attention to be given to ethical considerations in the emergency planning, preparedness, and response by nurses and their co-workers in the interests of better informing the ethical basis of emergency disaster management.

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