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Ethics, Ethical issues, Families, Legal issues



  1. Sizemore, Rebecca RN, BSN


Critical care nurses are often confronted with situations where the wishes of an incompetent patient on life support are undocumented and the family is struggling with the decision to either continue or withdraw life support. It is important that critical care nurses are able to identify their values in this and similar situations. With a better understanding of personal values, nurses are better able to provide medical information families need to make decisions about life support, without their ethical opinions being confused with medical knowledge. This article presents a framework using 2 values that are essential to decisions about life support, the sanctity of life, and quality of life to assist critical care nurses to identify values.