Throughout a nurse’s expert career, lots of difficult ethical and legal circumstances will emerge. Because nurses are given the unique advantage of caring for clients and their households, it is necessary to promote particular expert standards. The American Nursing Association (ANA) Code of Nursing Ethics supplies a structure on which a nurse need to perform her professional life. In addition to the Code of Ethics, nurses should also stabilize their personal worths together with legal standards to make the very best decisions for their clients.
A nurse’s first top priority is to the patient and supplying safe and qualified care. According to the ANA (2001 ), Provision 1 of the Code of Ethics states “The nurse, in all expert relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent self-respect, worth, and individuality of every person, unrestricted by factors to consider of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of illness.”( p. 1).
The nurse is bound by duty to appreciate the desires of the client and family in regards to end of life choices.
When it comes to Marianne, a committee is required to assist a family make a tough choice concerning the life of a liked one. Since the client is unable to reveal her wishes and had no advance directive, the nurse has a commitment to make sure that the household is notified and knowledgeable on her care. The nurse requires to support the household in the decision-making process and refer the family to other resources to help in the decision making procedure.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach, such as seeking advice from with an ethics committee, is one resource that is offered to the family to help in the decision-making procedure. In addition to challenging end of life decisions, the Code of Ethics can be utilized to guide decisions in cases of malpractice. Provision 3 states,” The nurse promotes, advocates for, and aims to protect the health, security, and rights of the patient” (ANA, 2001).
In other words, the Code of Ethics leads the nurse to address practice that is substandard and may jeopardize patient care. The nurse should follow policy and procedures of the facility to report such behavior, but if measures are not taken to ensure the integrity of nursing practice then the nurse may report to outside agencies, such as state departments. The nurse also has an obligation to ensure that the proper assistance or treatment is provided to assist in the impaired nurse’s recovery. While the Code of Ethics provides an important foundation on which to base behavior, any ethical decision involves an evaluation of one’s set of personal and societal values. According to Uustal (1993).“Nursing is a behavioral manifestation of the nurse’s value system. It is not merely a career, a job, an assignment: it is a ministry” (p.10).
Nurses need to be aware of their beliefs so that they can recognize and accept that a patient may have different values and beliefs. The nurse needs to interact with the patient and the family in a nonjudgmental, caring way. The nurse needs to take care not to influence the patient in making choices based on her beliefs or what she believes is right. The nurse’s role is to be supportive to patients and their families in actions that are congruent with the code of ethics. Some conflicts that may compromise the nurse’s personal beliefs may include end of life decisions, abortions or refusal of medical treatment. For example, a nurse may support pro-life decision-making but is bound to respect the patient’s wishes if they seek a legal abortion. Furthermore, a nurse needs to honor a patient’s decision to forego treatment, even if the nurse believes that that treatment represents the best option for the patient.
American Nurses Association. (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/ethics/code/protected_nwcoe303.html. Uustal, D. (1993). Clinical ethics and values:issues and insights in a changing healthcare environment. Educational Resources in Healthcare, 12 (2), 10.
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