RUNNING HEAD: A Question Of Ethics A Question Of Ethics: Duty Of Nurses Mariah Baird Chamberlain College Of Nursing Management NR 290 Summer, 2014 1 RUNNING HEAD: A Question Of Ethics 2 A Question Of Ethics Nurses face ethical dilemmas on a daily basis regardless of where they practice. No matter where nurses function in their varied roles, they are faced with ethical decisions that can impact them and their patients. There is no “right” solution to an ethical dilemma. So what is an ethical dilemma? It is a problem without a satisfactory resolution. (Bandman & Bandman, 2002.) Ethical decision-making is a process that can be refined and used in addressing any ethical dilemma. Adhering to principles of autonomy and beneficence are foundational to the ethical decision-making process. Respecting a patients’ autonomy means the patient has the right to make choices regarding care and treatment, regardless of medical opinions and other recommendations. A competent patient of sound mind has the right and should be allowed to make personal decisions regarding health care, including the refusal of treatment (Parker, 2007.) The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics includes a directive guiding the nurse to promote and advocate for the rights of the patient, an activity which should be at the heart of all decision making (ANA, 2001). A patient that is fully competent in making a decision regarding their treatment plan is a right that all patients have and value. A patient that is diagnosed with breast cancer confines in a nurse about wanting to die is something that the nurse cannot take casually. A nurse must respect the patient’s wishes because the patient has the right of autonomy. After discussing the wishes of the patient, the nurse should have contacted the physician and power of attorney. From there, the patient could have made changes to the advance directive so the predicament could RUNNING HEAD: A Question Of Ethics 3 have been avoided. It’s an extremely stressful time for the family and it is important to cater to the family’s needs because the family usually neglects their own needs to focus all their attention on their loved ones. It’s human instinct to keep fighting for your love one that is dying. The family wants to do everything possible in order to prolong the impending death of a loved one because it is hard to come to terms of the thought of not having that person around anymore. As a nurse there is no right way of comforting a patient’s family, different people have different coping mechanisms. The family is in a great deal of pain and it’s hard to find the right things to say. The nurse needs to be incredibly attentive and comforting to whatever the patient and family might need. This scenario played out worst than could be expected, there was a lot of gray area that could have been avoided if the advance directive was updated by the patient. The patient had come to terms about dying and was ready to stop all treatment to die in peace. Instead the patient was put on life support because the family and patient were disputing the plan of care. Patients in the final stages of life and their loved ones deserve no less than someone who will guide them in their search for needed information, represent their stated wishes and goals to others involved in their care, and support them as they determine how they will finish their lives. Strong nursing advocacy ensures that patients die in comfort and security, with their dignity intact and their values respected. (McSteen, 2006.) 4 RUNNING HEAD: A Question Of Ethics Reference: Bandman, E. & Bandman, B. (2002). Nursing Ethics Through the Life Span. (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall American Nurses Association. (2001). Code for nurses with interpretive statements. Washington, DC: Author. Kerstin McSteen, MS, APRN, BC. (2006). Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing;8(05):259-269.