Nursing ethics is one of the core pillars of the nursing profession that every nurse should embrace. Nursing occasionally involves making life and death decisions; therefore, there is a need to have guiding principles that regulate every decision made to maintain integrity in the profession (McDermott-Levy, Leffers, & Mayaka, 2018). There are four main ethical principles in nursing; autonomy which is the act of ensuring every patient gets the freedom to make decisions for oneself. Nonmaleficence which is the act of doing no harm; hence nurses or healthcare providers should protect the patient from any harm either from the environment or colleagues. On the other hand, beneficence is the act of doing good at all times to the patient’s satisfaction. Finally, justice involves treating everybody that requires healthcare services equally. Butts & Rich (2019) states that there are two additional ethical principles: veracity that is the practice of truthfulness in all circumstances, and Fidelity, which is faithfully honoring all commitments, both personal and that which channeled to others.
Privacy and confidentiality cannot go unmentioned in nursing ethics. The patient’s information is critical at every point, and unless the patient gives consent to disclose, it should remain unsaid. Healthcare workers should normalize asking for permission before disclosing anything, regardless of how small the case is (Haddad, & Geiger, 2018). Additionally, nurses should practice seeking informed consent when attending to every patient to show respect and dignity. Lastly, nurses are called to uphold integrity at every point of service delivery. This promotes fairness and transparency, which are beneficial to the institution and the profession.
A case scenario involving an 82-year-old female diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor managed in the oncology unit. Her condition was sensitive to anything that would make her anxious or excited. It caused intermittent explosive mood disorder with profound anger that would make her harm herself or destroy things around her. She had no family members who would visit and offer support emotionally and financially. The health insurance covered her but for a limited time. The insurance company gave the notice to withdraw its services from covering her and deserved to know, but her condition would trigger episodes of the intermittent explosive disorder. The health care workers were faced with an ethical dilemma, hence left to way appropriate option. The hospital settled on not disclosing the information and took over the burden of paying her hospital bills.
The health insurance violated the principle of justice in this case because it has committed to cover everyone equally. Additionally, the above patient did not have any other support from family or any other institution. Justice was upheld when the hospital decided to take over her hospital bill. Veracity is precisely the practice of truthfulness. This patient deserved to know the truth about the situation concerning the insurance cover. However, breaking the news would cause her anger and probably harm herself; therefore, it was appropriate to hold the information. Nonetheless, withholding the information could be considered deceptive. As much as veracity was debased, it was appropriate to withhold the information.
Ethical principles are always right; however, there are scenarios of ethical dilemmas where the harm outweighs the benefits. Nevertheless, the most important thing to be endorsed is for the patient to benefit satisfactorily. Rainer, Schneider & Lorenz (2018) states it is not enough to educate nurses on ethical principles but also should learn critically when and how to apply.
Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2019). Nursing ethics. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Haddad, L. M., & Geiger, R. A. (2018). Nursing ethical considerations.
McDermott-Levy, R., Leffers, J., & Mayaka, J. (2018). Ethical principles and guidelines of global health nursing practice. Nursing outlook, 66(5), 473-481.
Rainer, J., Schneider, J. K., & Lorenz, R. A. (2018). Ethical dilemmas in nursing: An integrative review. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(19-20), 3446-3461.
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