Rationing Home-Based Nursing Care: Professional Ethical Implications
Nursing ethics 2011 May; 18(3): 386-96
The purpose of this study was to investigate nurses' decisions about priorities in home-based nursing care. Qualitative research interviews were conducted with 17 nurses in home-based care. The interviews were analyzed and interpreted according to a hermeneutic methodology. Nurses describe clinical priorities in home-based care as rationing care to mind the gap between an extensive workload and staff shortages. By organizing home-based care according to tight time schedules, the nurses' are able to provide care for as many patients as possible. Furthermore, legal norms set boundaries for clinical priority decisions, resulting in marginalized care. Hence, rationing care jeopardizes important values in the nurse-patient relationship, in particular the value of individualized and inclusive nursing care. The findings are highly relevant for clinical practice, since they have major implications for provision of nursing care. They revive debates about the protection of values and standards of care, and nurses' role and responsibility when resources are limited.
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