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Abstract

“Ethicists often work alone in rural locations while also holding leadership roles. Who helps the ethicist when he/she experiences an ethical dilemma or moral distress?” asked an ethicist. Purposes of this descriptive exploratory convenience research project were to (1) Identify the ethical issues personally experienced by clinical ethicists while fulfilling their professional role, and (2) Describe the resources that clinical ethicists have or desire for resolving these personally experienced ethical situations. A random purposive sampling strategy was implemented. IRB approval was obtained. 12 clinical ethicists participated. Eight of the participants had experienced a personal ethical issue while performing their clinical ethicist role. Ethical issues described include: maintaining confidentiality, non-professional communication, moral distress, identifying the correct decision-maker, acts of deception, and conflicts created by dual roles. Each of these identified work related ethical issues reflects potential or actual communication breakdowns, such as lying, failure to disclose values, or incidents of miscommunication.

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