A Question Of Ethics

RUNNING HEAD: A Question Of Ethics
A Question Of Ethics: Duty Of Nurses
Mariah Baird
Chamberlain College Of Nursing
Management NR 290
Summer, 2014
RUNNING HEAD: A Question Of Ethics
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
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.)
RUNNING HEAD: A Question Of Ethics
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
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