Using Moral Distress for Organizational Improvement

 

James E. Sabin

 

      Moral distress is a major problem for nurses, other clinicians, and the health system itself. But if properly understood and responded to, it is also a promising guide for healthcare improvement. When individuals experience moral distress or burnout, their reports must be seen as crucial data requiring careful attention to the individuals and to the organization. Distress and burnout will often point to important opportunities for system improvements, which may in turn reduce the experience of distress. For this potential virtuous cycle to happen, individuals must be able to articulate their concerns without fear of retribution, and organizational leaders must be able to listen in an undefensive, improvement-oriented manner.

 

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