Ethical Dilemma

Explain the statement, “What may be an ethical dilemma for one registered nurse may not be an ethical dilemma for another registered nurse.” Be sure to define an ethical dilemma in the course of your discussion. Describe a challenging situation in your nursing career that required you to consider the ethical dimensions of the patient case and the role you played in providing care. (Be sure to respect and maintain patient and colleague confidentiality.)

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Ethical dilemma is a situation in which there is no clear right or wrong answer, and the nurse must weigh the potential risks and benefits of each course of action. What may be an ethical dilemma for one nurse may not be an ethical dilemma for another nurse because of different factors such as personal beliefs, values, and experiences.

Here are some examples of ethical dilemmas that nurses may face:

  • Whether to give a dying patient a medication that will prolong their life but also cause them suffering

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  • Whether to tell a patient the truth about their diagnosis, even if it is bad news.
  • Whether to report a colleague who is suspected of patient abuse.
  • Whether to follow a doctor’s order that the nurse believes is unethical.

The challenging situation in my nursing career that required me to consider the ethical dimensions of the patient case and the role I played in providing care was when I was working in the ICU and a patient was brought in who had been in a car accident. The patient was in critical condition and had suffered a severe head injury. The doctor ordered a brain scan, but the patient’s family refused to consent.

The ethical dilemma I faced was whether to follow the doctor’s order and perform the brain scan without the patient’s consent, or to respect the family’s wishes and not perform the scan. I ultimately decided to respect the family’s wishes, but it was a difficult decision.

I knew that the brain scan could have important diagnostic information that could help the doctors treat the patient, but I also respected the family’s right to make decisions about their loved one’s care. In the end, I decided that the patient’s autonomy was more important than the potential benefits of the brain scan.

I believe that it is important for nurses to be aware of the ethical dimensions of their work. Nurses are often faced with difficult decisions, and it is important to have a framework for thinking about these decisions. The Code of Ethics for Nurses provides guidance for nurses in these situations.

The Code of Ethics for Nurses states that nurses have a duty to protect the patient’s autonomy, to promote patient well-being, and to act in the patient’s best interests. Nurses must also be honest and trustworthy, and they must maintain patient confidentiality.

When faced with an ethical dilemma, nurses should consult with their colleagues, their supervisor, or an ethics committee. They should also consider the patient’s wishes, the potential benefits and risks of each course of action, and the law.

It is important to remember that there is no easy answer to every ethical dilemma. Nurses must use their judgment and their ethical framework to make the best decision for the patient.

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