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NURS 2103: Introduction to Professional Nursing: Ethical Issues

Current Issues


  • Abortion
  • Artificial hydration and feeding
  • Anti vaccines
  • Birth control
  • Capacity or Competence
  • Confidentiality
  • Cultural Issues
  • Cultural diversity
  • Decision Making Capacity Challenges
  • Difficult Hospital Inpatient Discharge Decisions:  Ethical Legal and Clinical
  • Disabled and ADA legal compliance      
  • Disclosing Medical Conditions
  • Domestic or family violence
  • Ethical and Legal Issues Generated by the HIV epidemic
  • Ethical Issues During Disaster
  • Futile care or aggressive interventions
  • Genomics and genetics testing
  • Incivility (disruptive, bullying, sexual harassment, horizontal lateral violence)
  • Incompetence among peers
  • Informed Consent
  • LGBTQ Patient Care
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Family Caregiving
  • Long term care jurisprudence and legislation
  • Malpractice
  • Medical Hold Process for Patients Determined Medically to Lack Capacity
  • Medication (error) issues
  • Nursing documentation and record keeping
  • Opioid crisis
  • Pain management and medication
  • Palliative Care:  Ethical Issues
  • Paternalism
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Patient Compliance or Adherence
  • Patient Discharge Standards
  • Patient safety
  • Physician Assisted Suicide
  • Practice Decisions
  • Psychiatric nursing care of the patient who is suicidal
  • Rationing of care
  • Restraints
  • Research, human rights, and ethical issues
  • Rights of conscience
  • Sexual health and insurance coverage
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Social Justice
  • Social Media
  • Surrogate decision making
  • Terminal or End of Life Care 
  • Undocumented or illegal immigrants
  • Utilitarianism 
  • Vaccine mandates for patients and/or providers
  • Whistle blowing
  • Work Environment
  •  Workplace issues:  Bullying, Lack of Communication, staffing

Health Sciences Databases

There are several excellent databases to search for the topic of ethical issues in nursing.  CINAHL and Health Source Nursing: Academic are two examples in addition to PubMed and Health & Medical Collection.  Most databases provide several types of search options. You can use a subject search (including MESH Medical Subject Headings) or a combination of subjects and keywords. The subject searches are always the most precise, but they can also "miss" some items that would have been retrieved in a keyword search.

Useful subject headings for these databases are:


This subject heading can be combined with keywords or Select Field search terms.  For example, some of the following might apply:

  • palliative care
  • ethics or ethical
  • dilemmas or issues
  • pediatric nursing or critical care
  • patient safety

If you choose, you can also search using keywords or keyword combinations instead of subject headings.

  • Ethical Dilemmas       AND          quality of care
  • Ethics                          AND          pain management
  • Ethical issues            AND           work environment
  • nursing ethics           AND           confidentiality 
  • Ethics                         AND           social justice