The Importance of Time in Ethical Decision Making
Nursing Ethics 2009 September; 16(5): 613-624
Departing from a contemporary novel about a boy who is going to die from leukaemia, this article shows how the dimension of time can be seen as a morally relevant category that bridges both 'dramatic' issues, which constitute the dominant focus of bioethical decision making, and 'undramatic' issues, which characterize the lived experience of patients, relatives and health care workers. The moral task of comparing the various time dimensions of a given situation is explained as an act of 'synchronizing' the clocks. Ethical sensitivity and competence are presented as core skills that allow a continuity of care in situations where dramatic issues seem to be resolved, but undramatic ones are still not addressed. A nine-step model of shared decision making is proposed as an approach to identifying critical junctures within an illness trajectory and synchronizing the clocks of the involved actors.
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