Ethical Dilemmas Faced by Nurses Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

“We all got into nursing because it’s a caring profession. And we’ve always known that and we always rise above our challenges, we run towards adversity, and it’s really about providing care to those who need it. And I think it will continue doing that.”



This podcast is an interview with Dr. Anne Dabrow Woods, a nurse who has been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 medical response in the US.

Changes in the healthcare system brought by the pandemic (0.36 –  3.24)

“…if a patient got sick, we say come into the hospital. We’ll take care of you…And now we’re in a situation where that’s not true… And we’re going to have patients that come in and we’re not going to be able to help them…And they could end up dying because simply we just don’t have enough equipment.”

The working of the healthcare system has changed drastically since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak.

One of the biggest challenges faced by nurses is turning patients away or seeing patients die in front of them simply because they don’t have enough equipment.

Moreover, now nurses need to take the time to put on the proper protective equipment; even if the patient is in rapid decline and all they want to do is run in and help them.

“…nothing is an emergency anymore because we have to stop and take the time; because if we don’t take the time to protect ourselves, we aren’t going to be around for the patients who really need it.”

Anne used the analogy of putting on your oxygen mask before helping others as the nurses can’t help any more patients if they fall sick and might even expose many others to the virus.

The nurses instincts (5.06 – 6.45

“So nurses need to use their success and speak up when a patient’s in trouble. So we can get help to them before it becomes a crisis situation.” 

It is now more important than ever for nurses to follow their instincts or gut feelings. If they feel that the patient’s health is declining or they may be heading towards a crisis stimulation, it is essential to have someone come in and evaluate their progress sooner rather than later.

How Hospitals can support nurses (7.01 – Ending)

“…you’re asking me to put myself in harm’s way every single day I go into work if I don’t have the right equipment. That’s a huge ethical dilemma.”

The nursing profession is one of the hardest hit right now. In the places that are the hardest hit, there is a severe shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment which puts nurses and everyone around them at risk.

Not only do nurses need support right now, they will also need support and guidance once the situation improves. Anne talks about how hospitals can leverage social workers to help nurses once the crisis is over as well as the importance of nurses working together and holding each other up.

“We’re going to be in crisis when this is over. We’re already in crisis actually now, but we’re going to need help be able to support ourselves to overcome this and I think that Social workers can help us find the way and I think hospital systems are really going to have to pull together to give support through employee assistance to nurses”

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Source: Nursing Center

This podcast has been curated by Caregiver Saathi. All Rights are Reserved with the original publisher and creators.

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