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  1. Erlen, Judith A.


Feeling vulnerable is a common human experience; everyone has probably felt powerless or unable to exert personal control in various situations. Lacking information, feeling stigmatized, being unable to control what is happening, or lacking access to services may lead people to have a heightened sense of vulnerability. They may wonder what rights they have, whether they have been stripped of their rights, or whether anyone cares about their situation. Although a more consumer-oriented approach is being used in many healthcare facilities, patients do not know how to get the help they need or to whom to turn for help. Therefore, the purposes of this article are to explore the concept of vulnerability, discuss advocacy as an ethical response for nurses, and offer recommendations for creating an ethical environment that supports efforts of nurses to act as advocates and uphold the rights of patients and families.