1. Saechao, Nay BSN, RN, CCRN
  2. Anderson, Aimee MSN, RN, CCRN, NE-BC
  3. Connor, Barbara MSN, RN, PMHCNS, BC


Moral distress and compassion fatigue have been studied for over 20 years.1-4 Lombardo and Eyre describe compassion fatigue as a condition leading to burnout, combining the physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for patients in significant emotional pain and physical distress. Moral distress occurs when a nurse knows the ethically correct action to take but feels powerless to take it.In a literature review by Epp, burnout includes the following three elements: emotional exhaustion; depersonalization, cynicism, or detachment; and a lack of personal accomplishment.