Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Essay Sample

Nurses are progressively gaining that they can offer relevant information and take part in decision-making affecting ethical issues. However. inter-projessional communications are often unequal. and do non allow exchange of sentiments. The effects are frequently frustrating and upsetting for nurses whose attention is affected by others’ policies. This paper explores these issues utilizing some clinical illustrations. Fundamentaf values of continuing life and relieving agony are shared by members of the medical and nursing professions. Codes of confidentiality. honestness and colleagueship are besides expected within these groups. However. the spirit of servitude and obeisance questioned by Nightingale ( 1 ) . but perpetuated by many nurses since. has created differences in the manner quandary are faced and the context in which nurses and physicians consider their professional moralss. This article will research some of these differences. Traditionally nurses have taken orders from senior members of both professions and initiated merely everyday processs.

Their logical thinking and rational accomplishments were non fostered or valued. It hence followed that determinations on medical every bit good as ethical issues were made by physicians ( 2 ) . Increasingly now nevertheless. nurses are gaining their curative potency. and patients excessively require more engagement in their attention and intervention determinations. Changes in nursing reflect a desire to go more responsible and contributory to the public assistance of those who need attention. Thus policies of one-sided decision-making are resented by those who are affected by the determinations. particularly when they have good grounds to differ and are faced with intervention effects continually during their day-to-day work ( 3 ) . Ethical issues in nursing must hence be viewed within a context of an emerging professional scruples. within a multi-disciplinary squad in which nurses have by and large held a slightly low-level function. and in a state of affairs where they have most contact ( or could hold ) with patients and relations. These factors should be explored to see where jobs exist Key words Doctors ; nurses ; paternalism ; decision-making. and in order to try to advance inter-disciplinary harmoniousness and support.

Recent developments in nursing pattern reflect increased cognition of effectual attention. altering demands of patients and an effort by the profession to go complementary to physicians non hapless replacements or mere ancillaries. Expanding countries of demand for attention in Western society will likely non be met by wellness services. non merely because of scarce resources but through alterations in the nature of demand. Increasingly the aged and inveterate disabled or ill. require aid to pull off day-to-day life activities and their jobs are practical. economic and societal ( 4 ) . It is frequently household and community factors which determine whether such people can maximize their capablenesss and independency. While medical physicians may seek to work these influences. their scientific discipline and expertness concern the bar and intervention of disease. Nurses. on the other manus. are trying to care for people by understanding their personal strengths. motives and other supportive resources ( 5 ) . Exploitation and application of psychological and sociological cognition every bit good as medical scientific discipline is now needed to assist supply relevant attention.

Giving counsel and comfort to enable patients and their households to get by with short or long-run jobs is cardinal to nursing ( 6 ) . This needs clip. forbearance. cognition. sensitiveness and trust. Few nurses or physicians would differ with this but the ethical deductions of enabling this to the full to develop should be considered. Within this model nurses are following more duty for placing and be aftering to decide or cut down unwellness and related jobs. This requires freedom to derive information relevant to the patients’ public assistance. proposing ways of covering with jobs and choosing precedences for attention with the patient and others caring for him. Nursing work may besides include executing other undertakings which physicians prescribe. but it should besides affect measuring and describing patients’ response to such interventions to doctors. A close professional-patient relationship with one or two nurses can be seen as basically curative in many state of affairss. Acting as a friend. usher or recommend of course follows when such contact is appreciated by the patient and planned by nursing staff. Downloaded from jme. bmj. com on October 15. 2014 – Published by group. bmj. com 124 Jenifer Wilson-Barnett Lowered position. unequal readying and ( mostly ) female socialization has produced many nurses who are inactive and disquieted about the added duties they are now expected to carry through.

In contrast. others more late trained. are eager to lend more oftheir rational. rational. every bit good as practical accomplishments. Relationships with both patients and physicians will change if nurses win in giving problemoriented attention as described. and they will necessarily go more involved in doing opinions about what is best for patients. One of the most of import resources a nurse has to give patients is relevant information about their status. their intervention and ways of get bying with both. Contributions by nursing and other research workers have demonstrated that certain types of information are positively related to recovery and less uncomfortableness after surgery and particular trials ( 7 ) . However. anxiousness decrease is besides a critical portion of this procedure. and replying all the patient’s inquiries candidly is likely one of the most effectual sedations. Augmenting the account given by physicians at times of subscribing consent is sometimes good. but the annoyed inquiries on alternate signifiers of intervention or rates of hazard. which vary regionally may show jobs of double trueness.

Keeping the patient’s trust in his physician is indispensable and normally non hard. but nurses are put in hard state of affairss when their beliefs or those of the patient himself are at discrepancy with those of others in the medical and nursing squad. Opportunities to discourse such differences should be. but nurses need to derive more assurance in showing their positions. As one of their primary responsibilities is to be honest to the patient and stand for his involvement before all others the protagonism function needs to be studied carefully. but to be effectual it has to be accepted by the physician. Some medical and philosophical writers support this wholly ; for case Culver and Gert give many grounds why nurses can supply information and discourse intervention programs more efficaciously than others. and in decision say: suitably would be more constructive. Surely literature on this capable studies communicating and cognition spreads and there is clear grounds that more engagement in intervention determinations is clearly advantageous ( 7 ) .

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This facet of the nurse’s function should be promoted for the patients’ benefit. yet it is possibly professional regard between physicians and nurses which must turn. in order to allow blunt treatments and inquiries when either disagree with their intervention programs. or when the nurse feels she should relay the patient’s uncertainties or dissatisfaction to the physician. Controversy over whether nurses can or should oppugn and differ with doctors’ determinations relates to the past construction of medical specialty and nursing. the permeating ethos of a strong medical profession and the current tendencies in our society where persons are being encouraged to be more independent. Hierarchies in infirmaries. in medical specialty and in nursing have required clear lines of authorization. unquestioning regard for senior status and a wellness service for which the bulk of patients feel thankful. Better instruction for carers allied to medicate and for those having attention has encouraged oppugning approximately and existent involvement in diseases. their interventions and progresss in such Fieldss.

Intelligent pupils can no longer sVccessfully be treated like amahs or they leave ‘the service’ . Leadership in most professions comes from wisdom and without this followings or subsidiaries do non esteem determinations. In other words paternalism is going excess and authorization has to be earned through cognition and part. This has farreaching effects for ethical issues in wellness attention. Unilateral determinations on medical intervention ( or deficiency of it ) were justified in the yesteryear through a belief in benign paternalism: physicians knew more about medical specialty than others. they took the legal duty for their actions and most members ofsociety were really thankful that this was so. In general this can now merely be seen to be justified when responsible others can non be informed or take part in such determinations. Philosophers’ definitions of paternalism indicate clearly their ain beliefs in its value. Dworkin ( 9 ) ‘ . . .

Making nurses in in-patient scenes responsible defines paternalism therefore: for finding that the patient has equal information for giving valid consent would assist to C. . . the intervention with a person’s autonomy of action institutionalise the nurse’s function as patient advocator. and justified by grounds mentioning entirely to the public assistance. therefore do it the nurse’s professional responsibility to protect good. felicity. demands. involvements or values of the the patient from doing determinations based upon individual being coerced. ’ unequal information’ ( 8 ) . Acting for someone’s benefit. non needfully against This averment rests on religion that nurses have equal but without his or her consent seems to go on a great cognition. empathy and communicating accomplishments and no trade in wellness attention. and peculiarly in infirmary. one would differ that these can ever be improved.

Nursing paternalism ( or motherliness ) is really Doctors may good back up one or two nurses whom common. peculiarly with aged people who are excessively they know and respect executing the protagonism function. weak or confused to decline all the lavation and exercising but the thought of nurses in general playing as a go-between they are forced to have ( 10 ) . However. the recent or a confidant discussing medical interventions may look alterations in nursing doctrine which emphasise unacceptable to many. Emphasis on assisting the shared ends and maximum patient engagement effort patient to understand the intent of certain to battle this ( 1 1 ) . Medical pattern is besides recognizing prescriptions and of reflecting the patient’s views the benefits of dialogue and coaction to Downloaded from jme. bmj. com on October 15. 2014 – Published by group. bmj. com Ethical quandary in nursing 125 encourage ‘compliance’ ( 12 ) . Indeed Weiss’s alteration or modernization of the significance of medical paternalism includes an accurate assessment by the physician of the patient’s values. prior to decisionmaking ( 13 ) . Medical paternalism with regard to nurses. nevertheless. can now be seen as antique.

Partnership non paternalism is likely more relevant to the hereafter and both nurses and physicians need to work hard to gain the benefits for their patients. If nursing is to develop to run into the turning demands among the populace for what it can give. others must accept this and aid its advancement. Given that ‘paternalism is intervention with a person’s freedom of action or freedom of information’ . . . ( 14 ) it can non be consistent with an spread outing subject whose members are making and using cognition which is good to those in demand. There is already a altering clime in wellness attention and while physicians may object to the nursing procedure ( 15 ) . yet few refute the worth of problem-oriented attention. In order for nurses to develop their accomplishments suitably they need to confront unfavorable judgment and opposing positions as does any public service. However. this should be rational and constructive and no longer rely on the power of a esteemed profession which thinks it knows best for patients every bit good as nurses.

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Possibly the greatest justification for collaborative decision-making on issues that affect patient attention. is the subsequent engagement of staff with the effects of those determinations. In many state of affairss it is unrealistic and so incorrect for one individual to make up one’s mind and allow others’ work be determined by that determination in a manner which contradicts their ain professional codification. At times so many people seem to be involved with one person’s attention: non merely the patient and his or her relations but several nurses. physical therapists. societal workers and physicians. The load of guaranting they all feel consulted may at times seem really great. In world. all excessively frequently determinations are taken by one or two members of staff and those left to administrate attention twenty-four hours after twenty-four hours are non involved with these opinions. In different topographic points and in different state of affairss the degree of treatment and engagement varies. but nurses in peculiar should be offering more support to their medical co-workers by supplying relevant information along with their considered sentiments to better the quality of these determinations and their expedition. It may look to some that this supplication for more engagement is unneeded in that where it is possible it already exists.

Yet the effects of paternalism from some medical co-workers and passiveness and selfeffacing behavior from some nurses continues to supply ample cause for concern. This author’s recent clinical experience provided three illustrations of determinations which were non negotiated with the nurses concerned and later caused them great anguish. Brief histories are provided to depict the effects and possibly show that both nurses and physicians need to alter their behavior if ethical issues are to be given the clip and attending they deserve. and if constructive and fulfilling working relationships are to be promoted. 1 ) A 66-year-old adult male had suffered bilateral intellectual bleedings over the class of three months. After the first shot he was hospitalised and became really down and expressed self-destructive wants. He was non hence motivated to retrieve and regained small motion or power of address. As he had no relations and ‘nothing to populate for’ . staff felt troubled and powerless to assist.

His 2nd bleeding left him wholly paralysed. and semi-conscious. all basic attention being required. This continued for two months. no positive marks of recovery being manifest. Medical staff hence agreed with senior nurses on the ward to stop nurturing tube provenders and get down a three-hourly government of restricted H2O. Two hebdomads subsequently the patient contracted a chest infection and was merely bring forthing highly little measures of violative piss. In this soberly dehydrated province despite all attention he became by and large malodourous and halitotic and few people entered his room. One senior pupil had been assigned to the attention of this patient in the day-time and was given the duty of be aftering nursing attention and guaranting this was continued when she was non on responsibility. Her mounting hurt that the patient was non being made comfortable in his last few yearss was merely communicated to other nurses. Unfortunately she felt unable to speak to the doctors as the ward was highly busy and they did non include visits to the patient during their unit of ammunitions.

After 10 yearss the patient died and the nurse felt she had failed to keep his self-respect or talk up on his behalf. This state of affairs is non untypical. Nurses are all excessively loath to asseverate their concern or beliefs and medical precedences must chiefly reflect active. healing intervention. The simple redress of giving more fluids and of discoursing this with the ward staff may hold helped the patient and the nurse suffer less. 2 ) A fifty-year-old lady had been admitted for probe of dyspepsia. emesis and weight loss. After barium X raies and gastroscopy a diagnosing of advanced stomachic carcinoma was made. Surgeons recommended a alleviative operation to cut down stricture and felt it unwise to unwrap the forecast of six months to the patient. They did nevertheless discourse this with her hubby who agreed his married woman should non be told of the forecast as she was ‘very nervous’ and had a phobic disorder about malignant neoplastic disease.

A junior staff nurse had been in charge on dark responsibility during the hebdomad of the operation and had become really close to the patient who had required a batch of physical attention and had asked non to be left entirely when awake at darks. Three yearss subsequently the staffnurse returned on twenty-four hours responsibility and was greeted heartily by the patient who was evidently much stronger and experiencing more comfy. After chew the fating for approximately 10 proceedingss the patient disclosed her frights that the physicians were concealing something and that she did non desire them to explicate Downloaded from jme. bmj. com on October 15. 2014 – Published by group. bmj. com 126 Jenifer Wilson-Barnett things but that the nurse was the lone individual from whom she could accept the truth. Having explored the patient’s frights of malignant neoplastic disease antecedently. the nurse realised that she might bring on terrible hurt if she mentioned this although the patient had confided that she would non be afraid of deceasing ‘as long as it wasn’t cancer’ . Despite feeling that she was being asked to unwrap the limited forecast at this clip and knowing that she would be available to back up the patient for the remainder of the twenty-four hours. the nurse decided to disrupt the conversation and inquire permission from sister to unwrap the forecast but non the diagnosing.

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Sister did non hold to the nurse taking on the duty but agreed to speak to the relevant physician. However. because of some holds by the clip the patient was discharged she still had non been able to go on her talk with the nurse who was left feeling guilty and unequal. This 2nd illustration illustrates one time once more the quandary faced by nurses in that while they have chances to give psychological attention they feel they have unequal authorization to go on this through to the full extent needed by patients. The rights or wrongs of revelation may be an issue at times. but as Brewin ( 16 ) has said it is more frequently a instance ofproviding skilled. unfastened. to the full informed communicating than make up one’s minding on a policy and non changing that policy. It is of import for all members of the squad to recognize when peculiar members of staff have a particular and confiding relationship with a patient in order to clear up issues and sometimes delegate authorization for decisionmaking as events unfold. 3 ) A 40-year-old lady was found to hold a malignant chest ball and her adviser recommended mastectomy.

Her heartache and discouragement was apparent to all as she wept for most of her first dark in infirmary and the undermentioned twenty-four hours. The ward sister tried to comfort her for over two hours on that forenoon. Surgery was scheduled for the following twenty-four hours and a nurse was assigned to her attention that eventide and for the following forenoon. By the flushing the patient was discoursing her diagnosing and intervention albeit tearfully. She asked about the possibility of other intervention and the nurse suggested that she discuss this with the physician before subscribing her consent signifier. By the clip the house sawbones arrived to explicate the process it was eight o’clock that eventide and he was instead shocked by the patient’s bevy of inquiries and tested hard to explicate why mastectomy was the best intervention. When he left the patient he expressed his choler at this unexpected bend of events to the nurse. whom he reprimanded for promoting the patient to doubt the prescribed intervention.

The nurse in this instance became really tearful and said she believed she had done what was best for the patient. who had clearly wanted more information. She besides explained that she considered informed consent implied the right of the patient to inquire inquiries about alternate interventions. This conversation did non still the house surgeon’s annoyance and he so complained about the nurse to the ward sister. who punctually reprimanded her the following twenty-four hours. There are no uncertainty many suggestions for cut downing the possibility of such state of affairss being repeated and often better direction has already prevented such struggle and hurt. However. one time nurses accept that they should experience accountable for supplying a wide scope of physical and psychological support for patients they will experience progressively dissatisfied if their parts to uninterrupted and relevant attention are non recognised. Lack of audience or concern over the consequence of ethical determinations on those involved in giving attention non merely destroys the satisfaction and regard of members of staff. it can besides cut down the quality of attention intended ( as illustrated in the sketchs above ) .

Nursing and medical instruction should certainly include more joint treatment Sessionss on ethical and intervention issues and be designed to supply more apprehension of the rules and procedures involved in supplying the best and most complementary parts to patient attention.


( 1 ) Weiss G B. Paternalism modernised. Joumal of medical moralss 1985 ; 11: 184-187. Editor’s note A response from Dr Weiss has been invited and is expected in due class. ( See besides articles get downing pages 127 and 131. ) ( continued from page 126 ) ( 13 ) Weiss G B. Paternalism modernised Journal of medical moralss 1985 ; 11: 184-187. ( 14 ) Buchanan A. Medical paternalism. Philosophy and public personal businesss 1978 ; 7: 370-390. ( 15 ) Mitchell J R A. Is nursing any concern of physicians? A simple usher to the nursing procedure. British medical diary 1984 ; 288: 216-219. ( 16 ) Brewin T B. The malignant neoplastic disease patient: communicating and morale. British medical diary 1977 ; 2: 1623-1627. Downloaded from jme. bmj. com on October 15. 2014 – Published by group. bmj. com Ethical quandary in nursing. J Wilson-Barnett J Med Ethics 1986 12: 123-135 Department of the Interior: 10. 1136/jme. 12. 3. 123 Updated information and services can be found at: hypertext transfer protocol: //jme. bmj. com/content/12/3/123 These include: Mentions Article cited in: hypertext transfer protocol: //jme. bmj. com/content/12/3/123 # related-urls Email alertness service Receive free electronic mail qui vives when new articles cite this article. Sign up in the box at the top right corner of the on-line article. Notes To bespeak permissions travel to: hypertext transfer protocol: //group. bmj. com/group/rights-licensing/permissions To order reissues go to: hypertext transfer protocol: //journals. bmj. com/cgi/reprintform To subscribe to BMJ travel to: hypertext transfer protocol: //group. bmj. com/subscribe/