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photo Code Gray
Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing
By Ben Achtenberg & Joan Sawyer
in collaboration with Christine Mitchell, RN
Produced & directed by Joan Sawyer. Photographed & edited by Ben Achtenberg

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE! This multi-award-winning program documents four actual situations where nurses confront difficult ethical decisions, as they balance the often contradictory views of patients, family members, and other staff about what is best for their patients.

In the case of a newborn with profound and probably fatal birth defects, nurses must decide what level of care represents beneficence, or "doing good." The staff in a nursing home must decide between respect for a patient's autonomy and the need to restrain her to prevent injury. Nurses in an intensive care unit make daily decisions about the allocation of beds and nursing resources in accordance with the principle of justice. A nurse caring for terminally ill patients faces a conflict between fidelity to her commitment to relieve suffering, and the promises made to the patient's family.

Code Gray offers no easy answers to their questions. It is designed to trigger discussion among nurses, physicians, other health workers and consumers about the realities of nursing in a technologically complex world. It will be invaluable for students preparing to enter the healthcare professions.

26 minutes
© 1983
Purchase $219.00 DVD
Order No. QA-004
close captioned

"A compelling film about the realities of nursing in a technologically complex world, where the humanity of both patients and nurses is often in jeopardy." Mila Ann Aroskar, Society for Health & Human Values

"Acknowledges the crucial 'here and now' bedside decision making nurses routinely shoulder, and caringly illuminates the hidden responsibilities of nursing." Booklist

Awards & Conference Screenings
Academy Award Nomination, Best Documentary
First Prize, San Francisco Intl. Film Festival
CINE Golden Eagle
First Prize, American Journal of Nursing
First Prize, Assn. for Critical Care Nursing
Red Ribbon, American Film Festival
American Academy of Nursing Awards
Assn. for Practical and Professional Ethics
Sigma Theta Tau

Related Films
Killed by Care: Explores the tragic consequences of medical error on patients, their families and on health care workers, and asks how medicine can be made safer.

Caring at the End of Life: Based on six case studies of seriously ill hospitalized patients, this moving film focuses on the key roles of nursing staff in improving patient-clinician communication in end-of-life care.

Dreams and Dilemmas: Follows a couple and their premature twins during six months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, as it explores ethical dilemmas raised by advances in neonatal medicine.

In Our Midst: Neonatal intensive care units save thousands of infant lives each year. This film profiles a family whose children are all "graduates" of the NICU, and explores the impact of medical technology on their lives.

Caring at the End of Life — with related study films: This three-part series deals with end-of-life care and decision making in the hospital, through profiles of several severely ill patients and the staff who deal with them.

To Choose No Harm: Two healthcare teams must resolve conflicts between the wishes of dying patients and family members, and their own beliefs and clinical judgements. The cases are also discussed by the hospital ethics committee.

Deception: A nurse and physician confront the hospital's ethics committee with their conflict over whether to withhold the truth about their patient's condition.


Awards & Screenings

Related Films

Study Guide

Web Resources

To rent or purchase this film, please visit the Icarus Films website