Ethics guide the behavior of nurses by promoting the principle of doing the right things at all times. Moral principles help nurses to address ethical dilemmas they encounter the process of providing care. Nevertheless, disclosing medical conditions has presented ethical dilemmas in nursing practice, one of which I experienced during my placement.
I was divided between informing a client about her cancer diagnosis or not, thus denying the patient her right to know the truth. The family had requested that the information be withheld from the patient because of the trauma it was likely to cause her. The principle of beneficence requires nurses to do what is right for their patients, including telling them fundamental truths about their lives (Anbalagan, 2011). While patients retain the right to know about their medical conditions, their psychological health should be secured. Indeed, nurses are obliged to prevent potential harm to the client while also being faithful to the profession, and the multidisciplinary team engaged in providing different services.
Approach to Uphold Ethics
The right judgment was to inform the client about her diagnosis of cancer. Supported by the principle of respect for autonomy, nurses should allow the patients to make autonomous decisions about their lives. They need accurate and complete information to make sound judgments. Besides, since the client requested to be informed about her diagnosis, it was ethical to inform her. Additionally, the theory of rights upholds ethics by supporting the decision made by the nurse. Per Elm & Radin (2012), individual rights are established and protected by society and are given higher priority when making judgments. In this way, it is the right of the client to discover her medical condition and make a personal decision afterward.
The priority of nurses is to provide care and protect the rights of patients. Therefore, ethical principles discourage nurses from discriminating against a patient based on any grounds. Moreover, nursing ethics reinforce the need for nurses to respect decisions made by patients regarding their own health and wellbeing. The application of ethical principles in nursing has streamlined the practice by equipping nurses with the knowledge to execute the right decisions.
Anbalagan, C. (2011). Impact of international business ethics, economic systems and intellectual property rights in business and management. International Journal of Marketing and Management Research, 2(1) 2229-6883.
Elm, D. & Radin, T. (2012). Ethical decision making: Special or no different? Journal of Business Ethics, 107(3), 313–329.