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Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practices

Career News July 30, 2013

Nursing is both a challenging and rewarding job, and throughout a nurse’s career, they will face many ethical dilemmas where conflict between policies and laws will force a decision that goes against personal beliefs or what seems humane and just. It is always the nurse’s job to provide safe and effective care for clients while respecting their rights to confidentiality. There are multiple laws in place through Federal and provincial legislations that ensure a client’s information is protected, so nurses must remain vigilant in this regard, so they do not violate the laws or client privacy. The ethical dilemma example has multiple scenarios that make keeping confidentiality and respecting rights a challenge.

End of Life Issues

Often, a gravely ill client will seek an advanced directive that gives them the right to make choices about the end of their life while they are still lucid and coherent. Many will sign a DNR, or do not resuscitate order so that no life-saving efforts will be made should they pass away while receiving medical care. This often conflicts with the families’ wishes and once the client is no longer able to make their own decisions, the family will often step in and demand life-saving measures be taken against the clients wishes. This puts nurses in an ethical imposition as they struggle to follow the client’s wishes, but avoid litigation from an unhappy family who feels you violated their rights. This often leads to clients being put on life-support or having feeding tubes put in place despite the fact that these measures will not change the outcome.

Birth Control

Every woman has access to birth control, but this becomes a sensitive topic when it comes to providing birth control for teenagers. Many teens feel as if talking to their parents about sex or birth control may end in confrontation and an outright refusal to their request. Here in the U.S. certain forms of birth control can be given without parent permission and a teen may seek prenatal care without parent knowledge. This can become a nursing issue as parents request private information on their teen or the nurse must provide care for a pregnant teen without parental consent.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

When individuals seek treatment for STD’s there are policies in place that allow for notification of sexual partners, but this does not force those who seek treatment to disclose this information to all sexual partners. Nurses face the dilemma of not disclosing information that is harmful and possibly life-threatening. All nurses can do is treat those who seek it.

Religious Practices

Those of certain religions have varying beliefs on medical treatment and practices. Some will not have certain surgeries while others do not believe in receiving blood transfusions. This can be a hindrance for nurses who want to provide life-saving measures. At times, hospitals will step in and try to obtain a court order for treatment if it means saving the life of a minor.

Laws like the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Personal Information Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act all hold the nurse and other medical staff to strict policies for safeguarding information. While these laws were put into place to protect medical information and any negative outcomes that would come from such a disclosure, this often creates an ethical dilemma for nurses who strive to give excellent care to their ailing clients.

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  • Nursing Degree Programs from Grand Canyon University's College of Nursing & Health Care Professions
  • Degree Variety: GCU offers a full-spectrum of nursing programs including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as post-master’s certificates.
  • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.aacn.nche.edu-accreditation).
  • GCU provides a Christian environment that provides an opportunity for you to embrace a holistic approach to caring for patients: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Depending on the degree you choose, you could take online, evening, or on-campus classes. Speak with an enrollment counselor to discuss your options!
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3 Program(s) Found
  • Summarize the roles, functions, and impacts of an effective healthcare manager.
  • Evaluate existing research using quantitative statistical tools to assist in healthcare management decision making.
  • Identify, evaluate, and respond to common types of healthcare ethical dilemmas.
  • Describe the value of personal and professional development, community service, and life-long learning in healthcare management.
  • Evaluate the impact of information systems and technology on healthcare processes and the securing of health information.
  • Analyze the strategic impact of human resource development and management on healthcare organizations.
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1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked 8th among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • A private, co-ed college founded in 1821 and located in downtown Washington, D.C.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and 55.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has distinguished alumni including Senator Harry Reid, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and actress Courtney Cox.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

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