Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyze the ethical challenges experienced by nurses, who provide care for COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
Methods: Qualitative phenomenological method was used with in-depth interviews, focusing on the concept of "ethical challenges". The study was conducted with 15 nurses working in Adult Intensive Care Units who were members of a National Nursing Association. The data were collected through the personal information form and in-depth interviews involving 5 questions regarding ethical challenges. The interviews were recorded in writing and then turned into a written document. Analysis of the open-ended questions was performed using the content analysis method.
Results: Five themes and nine sub-themes have emerged as a result of in-depth interviews. Themes were defined as the Concept of Ethical Dilemma, Conditions in which an Ethical Dilemma is Experienced, Ethical Challenges in a Newly Defined Infectious Disease, Guiding Ethical Principles, and the Ways to Cope with an Ethical Dilemma. Sub-themes were identified as the conflict of interest, patient rights, patient privacy, role confusion, professional incompetence, non-maleficence, beneficence, confidentiality, and professional ethics.
Conclusion: The nurses expressed that they had an ethical difficulty and ethical dilemma in a newly defined infectious disease. It is of importance to set international standards on the priority of care and the quality of care, which will eliminate ethical dilemmas for care during the pandemic.