The issue of ethics in nursing profession has generated a lot of research and debate, perhaps the importance of ethics can be better expressed in the words of Hall, 1996 who stated that, “the ethics incorporated into good nursing practice are more important than the knowledge of law; practicing ethically saves the effort of trying to know all the laws”p. 2. Through integrating ethics in the nursing practice, human dignity is upheld as well as the fundamental rights of the patients and all those who seek attention from the nurses.
Nursing management calls for realization and promotion of the rights of patients and the process through which this happens is by observing ethical guidelines. McHale & Gallagher (2003) adds that, the role and importance of human rights recognition is a core requirement of ethics in nursing. (ANA, 2004) stresses that nursing ethics although a child of medical ethics is distinct and only shares some principles. The relevance of ethics in nursing leadership can not be underrated; nursing is moving into the era where borders are not the defining factor in determining where one can practice.
It is therefore paramount that ethics be incorporated into nursing bearing in mind that the nursing practitioner will have to serve in various areas. This implies that, future trends will involve nurses moving to serve in different countries other than those of their own. That further justifies the application of ethical principle in service. ETHICAL PRINCIPLES OF NURSING: Nonmaleficence. This principle guides nurses in their relation with the patient and requires all nurses to do no harm to the patients but to maintain and protect a patients safety at all times.
Against a background of accusations of negligence in the profession, the need for nurses to treat patients with the respect and dignity required is high. Harm caused by nurses to patients may include lack of proper communication therefore psychological harm, poor communication or misreporting, as well as carelessness poor handling of equipment therefore causing harm to the patient. Ethically, it is wrong for the nurse to do any of the above, since; it puts the live of the patient at an increased risk.
This principle also comes in handy when there is a potential of harm in new drug administration, this is where the nurses are required to be honest and communicate effectively. Beneficence. This principle viewed against the background of a conflict of opinions between the nurse and the patient or even the patient and the hospital or amongst patients’ results into ethical questions pertaining to what is good and what is not. This calls for nursing managers and leaders to treat patients’ preference with utmost care and to avoid a situation whereby the nurse imposes decisions on the patient.
As noted by (Leininger, 1996), the ethical contentions for this principle is; what happens for patients who are not able to participate in the decision making due to their medical and health position? Also of significance is what intervention are necessary from the nurse and how appropriate they are. Autonomy. The principle of autonomy is central to the nursing profession in that, it is the one that guides nurses in to responding to the decisions of the client bearing in mind that it is the patient’s life and therefore it is the patient who has the authority to determine their destiny by the decisions they make.
Nurses should let patients make decisions without interfering. The question here comes when a situation arises whereby the legal infrastructure does not provide for the nurse to make decisions in line with what is right for them or the patient for that matter. Viewed against the background of practice, where the boundary lies between practice and autonomy of the patient. This requires that the patient be left to decide their destiny in terms of making decisions concerning their treatment.
The principle emphasizes the importance of the patients being informed of any consequences for turning down treatment. In that case, the nurse is obliged to come in and offer the best solution from the available options. Ethically, nursing calls for honesty in breaking sad news to the patient or their heirs. It is totally wrong to communicate sad news for instance death of a close relative in a manner devoid of professional touch. Nurses are required to use their instincts and assess situations before giving out sensitive information to patients.
Such sensitive information may include diagnosis with a chronic disease or a serious/ fatal condition. Justice. Justice for nurses is an ethical principle which underlines apportioning every one what is theirs. This implies that, all in the society should enjoy equal treatment in terms of access to care and other healthcare schemes. A current phenomenon is happening where by due to better pay in the developed world, nurses are quitting jobs in the developing world where salaries are not as high in favor of the developed nations, notably the UK and the US.
Ethically, questions are being raised since if not stopped or regulated; the brain drain will not only affect nursing care in the countries of origin but also shall affect the already delicate economies which spend many resources on training of the nurses. The other key concern is the fact that, some nurses may be subjected to work in harsh environments; the ethical question here is whether they should be rewarded consummately with their working conditions or as their colleagues in areas considered better environmentally (Donnelly, 2000). In fact justice should be evident in the whole hospital institution.
Dignity is obviously very crucial to patients no matter their vulnerability. Treating patients with impolite methods causes them to become withdrawn and that can also causes depression. Privacy and confidentiality. It is an ethical obligation for the nurse to guard all the secrets and confidential information from the patient. Failure to do that contravenes the principle of privacy and confidentiality (Davis 1999). Any information the nurse receives from a client must be used properly and for the intended purpose. The nurses also have their right to privacy.
Their job records need to be safeguarded since if released to unauthorized persons, they can be a source of breach of confidence. The nurse is almost always privy to the happenings in the life of the patient. This calls for high standards of confidentiality on the part of the nurse. It is considered very unethical for a nurse to divulge contents of patients. SUMMARY. Ethical conflicts in nursing may occur when a nurse, the healthcare organization, or the patient is not sure of the course of action fit for a certain task or issue requiring strong moral choice.
To achieve the highest stands in nursing management, all nursing professionals should adhere to the principles of nursing discussed above. The ethical principles if well applied and used will bring forth a profession which is receptive to change, abhors malpractices, and upholds dignity of mankind as well as a profession that is appreciative of its special role in the society. Nurses should take responsibility for the patient. They should also serve patients with commitment and devotion always defending patients’ rights and fundamental freedoms.
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