You find ethical issues and dilemmas in every field today. However, when it comes to dealing directly with people and treating them while offering indirect or direct patient care in the nursing practice, you are faced with issues that you probably wouldn’t in many other fields. That is why the medical field holds ethics in high regards and has set a standard for doctors and nurses.
Each and every doctor and nurse is trained as a professional to deal with ethical issues when they arise while ensuring the best possible patient care and the patients’ rights. However, at times the issue isn’t one they have clear training for and ethics come into play, especially when dealing with end-of-life care and palliative care, human dignity, and similar nursing ethics. These dilemmas tend to leave a lasting impression on their lives, both personally and professionally. Simply put, ethical problems not only affect the patients and their families but also registered nurses and health professionals alike.
Ethical Issues that Occur in Nursing
Capacity and Consent
Everyone is well aware that the nurse’s job is primarily to care for patients at the hospital to ensure their health and well-being and ethics are part and parcel of the job. They also deliver the best treatment options to the patient, letting them know what their medical condition is along with treatment. According to law, it is solely up to the patient as long as they are mentally stable to make the call to opt for the treatment or not. If the patient is mentally unstable or not capable of making the decision, then the ethical and legal course of action is for the family to decide. Nurses and doctors alike must respect the decision even if the patient or their family make a decision not to take a treatment that can cost them their life. Consent is required for them to be treated and without it, there is nothing the medical practitioner can do.
Autonomy and Confidentiality
The Patient Bill of Rights has strictly outlined that medical practitioners and all other staff must, at all times, maintain confidentiality between the patient and themselves. This ethical practice means not even telling the patient’s family the extent of the medical condition the patient, especially if the patient requests so. This also conflicts with the training given to the nurse to be open to family and provide as much information as possible. Putting them in a dilemma not to reveal too much when a patient doesn’t want information disclosed.
Non-Compliance of the Patient
There are many cases when patients continually receive the same treatment over and over again. They use the benefit of healthcare, spending taxpayer’s money to get treatment. When nurses are aware of such instances, they are put in a position of an ethical dilemma. While they can’t stop such incidents directly, it puts them in an awkward position, knowing that the patient is probably self-inducing injury themselves so they can receive the same treatment. Then using taxpayer’s money to seek treatment.