Ethical Concerns That Arise When Working With Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation in the NICU: A Nursing Perspective

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The purpose of this article is to take a closer look at ethical concerns that neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses face while performing terminal weaning or assistance on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) patients. The article explains the process of using and removing the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and how it may be considered a last option of survival. It explains the ethical perspective of the difficulty in the weaning process, while also providing a critical analysis of the ethical issues using the four method approach to health care ethics which includes: beneficence and non-maleficence, patient preference, quality of life, and contextual features. The biggest obstacle nurses struggle with overcoming is not just the attachment they share with their patients, but the moral and religious concerns regarding the placement and removing of the ECMO. Research has always shown that nurses maintain a highly stressful job, specifically in the NICU. However, there are protocols and procedures that the employing health care facility can offer to help alleviate some of the associated stress and improve on the situation.