The Mary dilemma – A case study on moral distress

Newborn infant starved to death in Toronto hospital

One of the nurses who was caring for her today looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “this is not right – if they took  her home and didn’t feed her they would be charged – why is it okay for us to do this?”

Fr. Michael Della Penna, ofm*  and Francisca Burg-Feret*

This paper begins with a case study describing the perspective of a Catholic nurse who experienced moral distress while observing the tragic death of a newborn infant named Baby Mary. The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness and educate readers about the concept of  moral distress and promote a greater understanding of the lived experience of Catholic health care providers who undergo this trauma. It also provides an analysis and some recommendations for practice that can help health care professionals make good ethical choices in difficult situations based on their faith.
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