depression, desire to die, ethics, hospice care, nursing, nursing responsibilities, patient confidentiality, suicidal ideations



  1. Kusheba, Jody MSN, RN
  2. Mulvihill, Karen DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, ACHPN


Nurses caring for patients at end of life are faced with many ethical dilemmas. A patient's desire to commit suicide affects not only the person who commits suicide but also the patient's family, friends, and health care professionals. This fictional case study demonstrates an ethical dilemma when Beth, a novice hospice clinical nurse leader, is at a home care visit for Joan, a patient with end-stage ovarian cancer, and Joan expresses her wish to commit suicide. The case raises issues about patient autonomy, patient confidentiality, nursing professional code of ethics, beneficence, and whether the nurse's actions were enough to prevent the death.