What if Your Patients Can’t Afford Care?

 In Nurses Weekly

Nurses can experience moral distress when faced with patients who can’t afford care. Moral distress is associated with negative consequences for nurses, including depression, disgust, depersonalization, acting out, physical problems and spiritual distress with loss of meaning, self-worth and moral sensitivity.

Nurses must contemplate the consequences when their entire profession suffers moral distress.

Many have determined and affirmed that the best ethical practice is giving optimum care regardless of financial status. Providing optimum care without regard to ability to pay is not the same as giving every individual the most expensive care possible.

The challenges with this issue are ultimately embedded within the health care delivery system and cannot be resolved by individual effort. Substantial changes in the system of health care distribution by reforming social policy are required.

It is also possible that increasingly pervasive moral distress related to patients’ ability to afford treatment may inspire many nurses to greater advocacy.

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