Ethical Issues in Nursing

Ethical Issues in Nursing

As a nurse taking care of several parents, ethical issues in nursing are inevitable. Nursing ethics are growing more complicated in today’s healthcare system. These ethical issues come in different ways and can manifest in the patients themselves, the treatment, or when it comes to making grave decisions. When seeking to provide the best medical health care, nurses must also tick to the issued formal code of ethics for nurses.

What are ethical issues in nursing

High ethical issues are essential for nursing. These ethical issues fall under a broader medical and health ethics category related to the moral obligation to all medical and healthcare services.

A typical approach to health ethics builds upon fundamental principles when assessing the nature and challenges of a medical health care procedure.

  • Autonomy: To preserve the patient’s independence and ascertain their wants.
  • Justice: Use the proper procedures to set healthcare spending caps and treat all patients fairly.
  • Beneficence: Pursue the patient’s best interests and determine what constitutes the goals to be achieved.
  • Non-maleficence: Identify the problems that should be avoided.

These guidelines can assist healthcare providers in identifying ethical issues and resolving them by speaking with patients regarding their wants and needs.

A quick overview of ethical issues in nursing

Ethics are crucial to the nursing profession’s honorableness since it helps provide the best healthcare to the patients. A nursing career is as lucrative as it is challenging, and nurses worldwide face similar challenges. Most of these challenges emanate from decision-making, moral obligations, and proper staffing, among other issues.

With more and more people joining the nursing profession daily, most are unaware of the ethical issue of nursing. Much experienced nurse supervisors and CNOs must therefore step up and help address ethical issues in nursing.

Failure to effectively handle these ethical issues could result in a drop in the quality of patient care, moral stress, and distorted clinical relationships. The nurse supervisors will face more pressure in matters of ethical issues in nursing since they are the ones that new nurses will look up to for guidance and mentorship in the challenging nursing field. All nursing departments, therefore, need to work in tandem to ensure that they make the appropriate ethical decisions and always keep in mind the needs of all the parties involved.

Common examples of legal and ethical issues in nursing

Although each day in nursing presents unique obstacles, many hospital administrators describe experiencing the same ethical issues. A recent study determined that protecting patients’ rights, staffing, advanced care planning, and decision-making were the most common and difficult ethical circumstances.

The problem is made worse by the influx of new nurses without much practice who haven’t dealt with ethical dilemmas in their profession. As a result of obstacles like these, competent hospital administrators are more important than ever for meeting the demands of everyday healthcare across the country.

Some more instances of typical ethical issues in nursing are as follows:

Spirituality vs Science

Healthcare, which is science-based and results-oriented, may conflict with one’s personal or religious convictions. Some faiths forbid using life-saving measures and medical procedures. Nurses concentrate on providing medical care to lessen suffering, and free patients start to focus on self-care.

The emphasis may be on following stringent rules for patients or their families with strong religious or spiritual beliefs. Nursing professionals are expected to honor the differences of the patient, including the value system, lifestyle, and religious beliefs according to the ANA Code of Ethics. Appreciation for a concept, however, “does not indicate that the nurse personally endorses those ideas or actions.”

Autonomy vs beneficence

Although patients have the option to decline medications, nurses are compelled to provide them. Despite having well-defined needs, patient autonomy can conflict with medical recommendations. Patients can refuse all medical care. The ANA emphasizes the demand for nurses and nurse managers comprehend patient histories and unique circumstances to explain the medical necessity to patients.

According to ANA, applying ethical principles to find a solution should be done in a setting of kindness, respect, candor, and openness. To be effective, this method must adhere to the highest ethical standards and be grounded in the most up-to-date, evidence-based practice standards.

Healthcare needs versus resource allocation

Hospital administrators are becoming more in conflict with patient requirements and budgetary restrictions as healthcare costs rise. Patients risk not receiving the necessary care because several medical facilities have insufficient resources. These resources include anything from medical technology to medical personnel. According to research, nurse supervisors should involve staff in planning so they may fully understand requirements and desires.

Honesty versus information withholding.

To preserve the patients’ feelings, relatives may desire to keep health information from sick people. Nevertheless, patients have a right to information regarding their medical issues. It can be difficult to disclose this information, especially if it contradicts the family’s beliefs. The ANA promotes honesty as a crucial element in nurse-patient interactions.

4 consequences of avoiding ethical issues in nursing

Nurses encounter ethical issues regardless of the area of nursing or institution type. Nurses need to be able to identify when faced with an ethical problem and develop strategies for balancing their values with their profession.

Adverse outcomes can result from avoiding ethical challenges. Some examples of what could happen if nurses don’t deal with ethical issues in nursing are provided below.

Legal problems

Legal trouble might arise when nurses try to avoid dealing with ethical dilemmas. There may be significant legal consequences to some ethical concerns. Avoiding ethical issues in nursing is never a wise idea. As an alternative, the issue should be addressed to the right people, such as supervisors, and dealt with properly to avoid legal complications.

Burn out

One of the most common problems nurses face is burnout. Ethical issues in nursing area fertile ground for anxiety-related problems. Nurses must therefore identify any signs of burnout and find solutions as soon as possible. Not doing so can increase stress levels, resulting in poor service among nurses.

Loss of license

Losing a nursing license is a severe consequence of avoiding some ethical common ethical issues in nursing. If this happens, the nurse may lose their right to work. It’s often wise for nurses to admit when they’re in a bind and ask for guidance from superiors before it’s too late to save their job or license.

Loss of jobs

Nurses who avoid morally challenging situations risk being fired. If a nurse fails to confront an ethical issue at work, they may face disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Current ethical issues in healthcare

Compared to illegal actions, ethical choices tend to have less severe repercussions. There is no requirement under law that a healthcare administration assures patients that wait times will decrease in an overcrowded emergency room. But it can be morally sound for them to voice the problem with the panel of administrators. Here is a list of current ethical issues in healthcare.

The confidentiality of medical records

For instance, concealing information concerning a patient’s illness could be unethical since it could hurt the patient or someone else. The contrary might be dangerous too. A medical practitioner could be suspended or, sometimes, sacked for posting information about cases on social media.

Despite how accidental such a practice can be, HIPPA statutes ban any release of health information on social media channels because a patient immediately loses any expectation of privacy associated with such disclosures.

Do-Not-Resuscitate Commands

If a patient stops breathing or their heart stops beating, a doctor can write a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order instructing medical staff not to do CPR. The DNR doesn’t have instructions for additional therapy and can only be approved after a physician consult with the patient.

When it is unclear whether or not a patient has the mental capacity to make a DNR decision, ethical questions may arise.

Access to Care

Given the peak availability of health care insurance, Americans without coverage have difficulty receiving medical treatments. With the rise in healthcare resource demands, financial expenditures that cover the resources are pretty significant, and hospitals pull down the price. Protecting people from financial risks associated with their health is also encouraged by the WHO. Institutions and healthcare providers face difficult questions regarding this advice and the debate over cost and access.

Malpractice and negligence

According to a study published in BMJ magazine, medical mistakes are the third most significant cause of death in the U.S. Patients negatively impacted by the declining number of malpractice lawsuits may never fully recover. There are those for whom this could take years.

The high-risk aspect of the healthcare field can enhance the chance of malpractice. Administrators, like doctors and nurses, must ensure that patients receive the most basic treatment possible to protect themselves from legal action. Hospitals can be liable for negligence in medical malpractice if they use substandard equipment, make an incorrect diagnosis, or fail to diagnose a patient promptly.

Physician-assisted suicide

The term “physician-assisted suicide” refers to the practice of committing suicide with the assistance of a medical professional. In the most fundamental sense, only a doctor is technically allowed to participate. The American College of Physicians reports that efforts to legalize PAS are rising despite the profession’s ethical solid opposition to the practice (ACP).

Common ethical issues in nursing

The dignity of the nursing field and improved outcomes for patients depend critically on nursing ethics. The ANA’s nursing code of ethics, which addresses numerous aspects of patient care and offers assistance in resolving the biggest ethical challenges in nursing today, including the five described below, binds nurses in all settings and roles. Here are some of the ethical issues in nursing.

Agressive interventions

Another ethical issue in nursing is whether to provide unnecessary care or make aggressive interventions amid the patient’s increasing decline.

Artificial hydration and nutrition

The most challenging topic for patients, families, and staff is artificial hydration and nourishment.

The opioid crisis

The opioid crisis has also given rise to ethical problems in nursing. As they wrestle with the ethical issue of whether a course of action is ideal for their patient’s health, nursing staff must abide by the ethical regulations regarding the opioid issue.

Anti-Vaccine issues

When discussing childhood vaccines, ethical questions about autonomy vs beneficence can spark a contentious discussion. Parents can choose not to vaccinate their children, but doing so may endanger public health and lead to the resurgence of previously wiped illnesses.

When removing barriers to vaccination, a nurse must try to ascertain why a parent is against vaccination, give them factual information about the significance of immunization, and address their reluctance.

Managing patients who aren’t compliant

Emergency room nurses can face ethical issues when dealing with patients who blatantly need immediate medical attention but actively refuse it. Whereas a patient has the right to autonomy, the moral duty of a nurse is to fight for the necessary medical care.

A patient is entitled to decline any medical treatment, even if it means they may not survive, the nurse must try to provide care and give out recommended medications. While it is against nursing ethics to pressure patients into accepting medical treatment, a nurse must notify them of the need for it.

Typically, nurses collect signatures on consent papers, particularly for operations. When confronted with a circumstance in which the nurse is uncertain about whether the patient knows what he is being told or can read, the decision of whether to speak with the patient delay a busy schedule or have the doctor return and or clarify to the best of her ability and obtain the patient’s signature could be challenging.

The bottom line

Working in the healthcare industry, whether as an administrator, nurse, or doctor, can be highly satisfying and demanding at the same time. Uncertainty exists in the healthcare industry. Every choice, from a patient’s treatment to the money a health center requires, can spark disagreements.

Regardless of how difficult it is, healthcare professionals will need to ask themselves what the ethically right course of action is in a given situation. The list of ethical issues in nursing above contains most of the ethical issues in nursing. The nursing field keeps evolving, the more ethical issues in nursing.

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