Ethical issues can occur in any healthcare care raising profound questions on whether a decision made is right or wrong. In most cases, professional decision-making by nurses should be supported by ethical principles to protect rights and dignity of patients.
An Ethical Dilemma
The ethical dilemma involved a nurse and a patient’s mother. In the dilemma, the nurse was caught between doing the best for the patient and his family and adhering to rigid hospital rules governing operating room restrictions. Per Reamer (2018), nurses are advised to evaluate challenging situations and relate to their past experience before making a decision. The mother of a dying child requested to be allowed in an operating room to stay with her dying child. The child had gone through unsuccessful heart surgery and was on a life-support device. The principle of beneficence required the nurse to do the right for the patient’s mother. Preventing her from entering the operating to see her child was to prevent her from experiencing mental pain. The nurse also adhered to the principle of justice and fairness requiring her to inform the patient’s mother about hospital policies.
The ANA code places the responsibility of upholding virtues of truth and honesty on practicing nurses. Furthermore, Austin (2011) affirms that nurses are expected to uphold the dignity of the nursing environment together with rules that govern the environment. In this ethical dilemma, the mother was only allowed to see the child after he died and the chest stitched up. Upholding ethics in this case required the nurse to decide on the principles of right and prevent the mother from mental harm arising from seeing the body of their deceased child with the chest still open. In addition, the right for the nurse to adhere to nursing and hospital rules and procedures as supported by the ANA code of ethics upheld ethics.
Nursing ethical practice attempt to prevent harm and protect the rights and dignity of patients and their family. However, nurses face unique challenging situations questioning their abilities to execute rational decisions. Nurses should therefore make ethical decisions based on their conscience but adhere to rules and policies governing their practice.
Austin, W. J. (2011). The incommensurability of nursing as a practice and the customer service model: an evolutionary threat to the discipline. Nursing Philosophy, 12(3), 158-166.
Reamer, F. (2018). Ethical issues in integrated health care: Implications for social workers. Health & Social Work, 43(2), 118–124.