When dealing with ethics it is important for nurses to have knowledge on how to deal with ethical issues to protect themselves and can advocate for their patients. For nurses to be successful and be prepared they must know what ethics is. Per the author in chapter nineteen (Zerwekh & Zerwekh Garneau, 2018). Ethics, “refers to principles of right and wrong behaviors, beliefs, and values”. (Zerwekh & Zerwekh Garneau, 2018). Nurses will deal with ethic issues on daily basis in their or careers or very frequently.
It is important for nurses to be familiarized with commonly used terms. Some of commonly used terms are a Living Will; this allows the patient to choose if he or she want measures to be kept alive in the event they cannot speak for themselves. For example, if someone is involved in a car accident and have crushed injuries and stops breathing and ends up ventilated. Advance directive; this is a document written by the patient and is where the patient describes how he or she wants to be cared for medically in the event he or she cannot advocate for themselves. Durable power of attorney for health care; this allows the patient to choose a person of preference to make decision medically in the event he or she can’t make for themselves. This only become valid when the patient is unable to advocate for him or herself. Other commonly used terms are; Bioethical issues, this involves a person’s life where it brings up troubles about what is right and what is wrong. Other terms are dilemmas, moral courage, moral distress, moral reasoning, moral uncertainty and values.
Commonly used ethical frameworks are the following; Autonomy, a patient has the right to decline or accept care given. With autonomy, the patient has full control and is able to decided what her or she wants at all times. Beneficence, is doing what is in the best interest of the patient. For example, the doctors decided along with family and healthcare team deciding what is the best course of action is for the patient. Non-maleficence, is responsibility in not doing or stopping harm to the patient. For example, provided care to a patient or taking a task that one has never taken before without proper training that can cause harm to a patient. Fidelity, is the responsibility to be committed to the patient. For example, keeping the patient’s medical diagnoses private and protecting patient’s privacy. Veracity, it the responsibility to be honest and say the truth when a patient questions you about their actual diagnosis. Justice, the responsibility to provide treatment fairly to all patients. For example, treating all patients the same despite their financial status.
Two major ethical controversial situations present in nursing practice is abortion and euthanasia. Per (Zerwekh & Zerwekh Garneau, 2018), Abortion practices have been made all over communities and around the world for different reasons. Abortion is a very heated topic in which people have different beliefs. In one view, it is believed that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy by choice and don’t consider an embryo a human but see only as a collection of tissues and cells. For example, some women terminate pregnancy due to rape, or deformity of fetus and or due to the risk of the pregnancy. People in favor of abortion believe that the fetus or embryo have no feelings and therefore don’t consider the pain being inflicted to the embryo or fetus. The other view is people feel humans don’t have the right to end life of other humans. Religious beliefs play a big role in being against abortion. For example, these individuals believe that every pregnancy is a blessing despite the condition of the embryo, fetus and pregnant female. It is believed that if pregnancy is terminated by choice it is sinful. Abortion does affect my personal values. It would be very emotional sad for me to have to witness an abortion just because an individual felt that they were not ready to become parents. If I ever come across a situation like this, I understand the patient’s rights and I would respect them and stay professional or I would speak to my supervisor and see if it is possible to trade assignment.
Another major ethical controversial situation present is euthanasia; euthanasia is widely judged around the world. It is only legal in five states and many individuals are against this due to religious believes. For example, a patient diagnose with terminal and end stage cancer can be very painful and therefore individuals believe in ending suffering by ending life before the cancer does. There are three types of euthanasia which involve; passive, voluntary and active euthanasia. (Zerwekh & Zerwekh Garneau, 2018), passive euthanasia is when patient refuse to be on feeding tubes or machines that will extend life. Voluntary euthanasia is when an individual request a big lethal dose of medication prescribed by a doctor to end their life. Lastly, active euthanasia is a type of euthanasia that is not legal and this can be seen as murder and a person can be charged criminally. Euthanasia affects my personal values and in no way, can I condone such behavior. I can understand refusing saving measures such as a feeding tube, but it still affects me because I view it as starvation.
Key components in the ethical decision making process is: Deontological, Teleological and Situational. Per (Zerwekh & Zerwekh Garneau, 2018). In deontological, it is believed that everyone should be given the same respect and should be handled with same care and respect. In teleological it is believed that if the patient has a good outcome then it believed it was good measures taken. Situational, it is believed that each issue or circumstance is different and therefore each situation cannot be treated the same. It is also important to gather all the facts because this helps one get a better picture of what one is dealing with. Also, identifying the issues helps to know who is involved and see both sides and determine the best solution for the issue. Lastly, evaluation the outcome helps one determine if the measures taken were appropriate.
In conclusion, nurses will always be surrounded by ethical dilemmas and issues during one’s nursing career. It is important to evaluate one’s personals values to better serve and care for patients. I believe it is important to reach out to supervisor when your personal values are interfering how you care for a patient. It is okay to disagree, but the most important to remember is patient’s rights and not violated their right as a patient and as a human being.