Ethics Rounds in the ICU: Principles and Practice

Author(s): Douglas E Houghton

Contact Hours 1.00

CERP B 1.00

Expires Dec 31, 2019

Topics: Beacon, Ethics

Level: All

Population: Lifespan

Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

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Activity Summary

Conflicting values can make providing critical care extremely challenging for the multidisciplinary team. Nurses can experience moral distress as a result of feeling frustrated when providing care which they view to be futile, against their personal ethical values, or a waste of limited resources. This session provides an overview of key ethical-legal precedent case law and a discussion of widely accepted ethical principles which are supported by these cases. The case study method is used to apply these principles in practical exemplars. The concepts of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence and justice are described, along with to medical futility. The principles outlined are applied to the evaluation of clinical cases involving critically ill patients. The facilitator describes his own current practice of ethics rounds in the care of complex critically ill patients. Participants are shown tools to analyze clinical ethics cases in their own practice.


  • Evaluate clinical cases in the ICU for the presence of ethical conflict or compromise.
  • Analyze complex clinical cases and apply core principles of biomedical ethics to identify potential courses of action.
  • Formulate a strategy to implement “Clinical Ethics Rounds” in their current practice environment.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


This activity has been reviewed by the Nurse Planner. It has been determined that the material presented here shows no bias. Approval of a continuing education activity does not imply endorsement by AACN or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with the activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation, ANCC Provider Number 0012 (60 min contact hour). AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing, California Provider number CEP01036 for 1.2 contact hours (50 min contact hour).

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.