Free «Ethical Concerns in Nursing» Essay Sample

Ethical Concerns in Nursing

Ethics are an important determinant of how a member of a profession is supposed to act, relate and carry out professional tasks. Code of nursing ethics guides nurses in their daily responsibility of providing quality nursing care to the patient while upholding legal and moral obligations. However, there has been a growing concern since it has been increasingly difficult for nurses to carry on their responsibilities. The main obstacle in line with the professional ethics and integrity is the complexity of moral choices and pressures that nurses encounter every day.

The nursing activities are aimed at improving the health and comfort of the patient. Such responsibilities as improving the quality of life, relieving pain and anxiety are all directed towards a moral purpose (Simon, 2012). However, nurses have to be aware of ethical principles and practice their duties ethically. Therefore, the decision made by the nurse should incorporate both moral and professional dimensions. Nurses often find themselves in a dilemma while choosing one action over the other. For instance, a practitioner may receive two calls requiring him/her to take care of two patients at the same time. In this case, the nurse may decide first to attend the patient who is closer simply because of proximity. This choice is ethically right but does not have a moral dimension, and thus it may contradict the idea of integrity. Nurses also encounter moral distress. This is a circumstance when the experts know the morally correct thing to do, but are prevented from taking this action due to external environmental constraints. These constraints may range from legal, organizational or be based on time pressure.

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Although the nursing profession holds advocating for the patient as the core value, other moral standards may interfere with the care delivery goal. One of such cases occurred in the Rehoboth mission field where nurses engaged with the religious and medical administrators objecting inadequate care to the patients (Lagerwey, 2010). At some point, the patients were advocating for losing access to critical care for an extended period (Lagerwey, 2010). The professional ethics states that a nurse is responsible for advocating and protecting the patient's rights, safety, and health. In the process of seeking quality care, nurses may often find themselves in a “war” with other healthcare stakeholders. Nurses often find themselves in a dilemma when caring for the patient. The nursing ethics grant a nurse with the authority and responsibility for making decisions that promote the health of the patient. However, sometimes cases arise where the patient may reject the medical practice that would have resulted in the optimal results. This leaves a nurse having to decide whether to respect the patient's opinions, wishes, beliefs, and values, or carry out the obligations according to the professional code.

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Sharing information concerning the patient's condition is another dilemma that affects many nurses. According to the professional ethics, nurses should ensure honesty in the process of treatment. Families may often consider keeping appropriate information about the patient a secret to protect them from emotional suffering. Nurses find themselves deciding whether the patient should know everything about his/her condition or not, despite the high probability of emotional distress.

Conflicting views on the right course of treatment is another concern in nursing, which often causes ethical distress. Nurses, physicians, and patient’s family members may differ in opinions concerning the right treatment of the patient (Wadensten, Wenneberg, Silen, Ping Fen Tang, & Ahlstrom, 2008). For instance, a physician may decide on further treatment, while a nurse may think that the treatment should be terminated or inappropriate. The physicians may end up ignoring the nurse’s professional competence and knowledge simply because their opinions differ. As a result, the nurse is forced to implement orders which he/she considers inappropriate. This act may be against his/her professional ethics, which allows the nurse authority to make decisions and to take obligation to promote health and care for the patient. At the same time, nurses remain accountable for every action taken in the process of treatment (Bell, 2015). As a result, nurses feel powerless, inferior and disrespected when they are not engaged in decision making.

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Nurses experience moral agony and torture when they are caught up in ethical dilemmas related to patients care. Such problems as the shortage of nursing staff cause moral pain to nurses, since the optimal care for all patients is not provided. The lack of nursing staff also leads to increased workload and professional distress. Nurses end up experiencing moral anguish when forced to work overtime and still provide the needed care.

The research of the comparison of ethical concerns in China and Sweden reveals that Chinese nurses experience work overload in the process of caring for critically ill patients (Wadensten et al., 2008). They often have to manage and prioritize tasks on their own in order to ensure they deliver the best care despite feeling powerless due to not being involved in medical decision making (Wadensten et al., 2008). The demanding workload makes it difficult for nurses to provide the best care while complying with all rules and regulations.

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In conclusion, nurses often find themselves in ethical dilemmas and conflicts. The causes of distress may differ, and most often the main concern is providing care to the severely ill patients. Moral conflicts may make nurses think that they are not professionally respected in their effort to provide quality care to the patients. Therefore, there should be interventions that would improve nurses’ working conditions, ethical considerations and medical decision involvement. Such approach will ensure that the nurses are engaged and do not feel marginalized in their efforts to provide and improve the quality of healthcare.