The Impact of Health Care Reform Initiatives on Ethical Conflict and Opportunities for Nurses to Improve Quality of Care While Enhancing Their Work Environments


Background: After more than a decade of the nursing profession contending that healthcare reform based almost exclusively on cost cutting was creating an array of serious ethical issues for nurses, healthcare organizations and other providers are now facing increasing demands primarily from payers to demonstrate improvement in both quality of care and patient experience along with continued cost reduction. Research Question: Have efforts by healthcare organizations to comply with these recently imposed requirements influenced the ethical environment faced by nurses and nurse leaders and if so, how? Materials and Methods: Data for assessing the current ethical environment was gathered with a close-ended survey mailed in October 2012 to a random sample of 3000 members of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. Results and Discussion: Statistical analysis of the data and comparison with the findings of a similar study conducted in 2000 indicated that along with five highly rated issues in the earlier study attributed largely to economic constraints imposed by healthcare organizations, the top-10 key ethical issues today included five issues primarily attributable to interprofessional conflict. Conclusion: Given the success of many ongoing efforts aimed at weakening these key sources of ethical conflict that have blocked many proposals to improve the quality of care, opportunities should arise for the nursing profession to more fully achieve its goals of improving the quality of care, safety and patient satisfaction and enhancing nurses’ work environments essential to that effort.

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Cooper, R. , Frank, G. and Shogren, C. (2014) The Impact of Health Care Reform Initiatives on Ethical Conflict and Opportunities for Nurses to Improve Quality of Care While Enhancing Their Work Environments. Open Journal of Nursing, 4, 644-655. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2014.49068.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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