Nursing and the Ethical Issues

What is this ethics that is of great concern in the medical career? Doctors and researchers have to consider some ethical issues in their profession, nurses too have to do that. Other professions too have to consider ethical issues in their field of profession. Some describe ethics as a ‘science of morals’ (Burnad et al. , 2004), some define it as caring for ones self and others, while some say it is doing the right thing (Burnad et al. , 2004). All these definitions seem to describe what ethics is.

Ethics according to Burnad and other’s description, deals with what is in the moral philosophy. It considers the beliefs, attitudes and actions of moral philosophy. There are two aspects of ethics, the first one deals with peoples behavior based on what is right, what is just and what is good. This aspect describes people’s behavior in any place in relation to the age of the person. The second aspect of ethics is that it involves what people do under the pressure from community culture, organization’s and personal pressures.

The actions of the person acting under this second aspect of ethics is therefore influenced by the organizational pressure, pressure from the culture or just personal (Burnad et al. , 2004). All these aspects of ethics are important. When making a decision, any person should consider both aspects of ethics, for example the nurses, there are ethical issues as will be indicated later that the nurses should consider in their career. The ethical issues that they consider are organizational and therefore there actions are influenced by pressure from these organizational ethical issues (Rebecca et al.

, 1995). Ethical Principles in Nursing There are some basic ethical principles that can be used in any situation as described by Burnad and others (2004), these principles are; life value, what is right or what is good, fairness or justice, being honest, and lastly, individual freedom. When one wants to make a decision, it is of importance to consider all these ethical principles. A nurse for example should consider if the next step he/she wants to make is just, considers the value of life, is good, if he/she is being honest and if he/she has the freedom to do so.

The first principle which is the value of life is given consideration first since without it then the other principles would not exist (Guido, 2006). A nurse has to give life value, but then this has some considerations. What is life to someone who suffers in a wheel chair? A person leading a normal life may not value the life of a disabled person as the disabled person himself/herself, who considers the life to be precious, yet the normal person considers that kind of life to be of poor quality.

In decision making on any action a nurse takes, the patient’s life is given priority whether lame or not. Conflicts There are conflicts in decision making about ethical issues. One of the conflicts is the lack of obeying one’s conscience and different people having different consciences regarding the same situation. This has been a major problem in the medical career since as Rebecca and the rest of the writers indicate or argues, the human personality is only complete with ones conscience (1995).

They indicate that the lack of obeying one’s conscience causes conflict in decision making about what is ethically correct. An example is, a nurse can have the belief that, it is wrong to take life away and so his/her conscience will not allow him or her to do an abortion. In the medical field, there are cases where abortion is necessary or ethically correct since the life of the mother will be protected. Is it evident that there is a conflict between the conscience of the nurse and what is ethically correct in the medical field?

According to ethical issues in nursing, the life of a patient should be given value. The patient in this case is the pregnant mother, whose life is endangered by the baby. The case study From the case study, an 8 month old baby was taken to a hospital with bilateral femur fractures after the mother took the child from a day care institution. The child had been crying, had elevated pulse and respirations. The nurse in charge had alerted the physician of the child’s condition.

Before the physician was told of the child’s condition, it was not yet revealed that the child had bilateral femur fractures, it is after the x-ray that the physician ordered to be done, that the fractures were revealed. Analysis Ethical issues identified in this case study are the child’s life if of value, the right thing of referring the patient to the physician and informing the physician of the condition of the child. The nurse found out the problem in the child’s thigh after further examination.

The nurse did the right thing, considered the life of the child to be of value and was honest when she gave the report to the physician stating her concerns. The use of ethical principles as indicated by Guido (2006) indicate that life comes first, then a nurse has to consider if it is just to take an action or make a decision, followed by if the decision is honest and lastly the nurse has to be free in making the decision. As has been indicated earlier, there is always a problem in decision making due to conflict between the conscience of the nurse and the principles of ethics.

The nurse’s conscience in this case study may have been, though not clearly indicated, that the child may have hurt himself in the day care, and the mother should have investigated the cause so that correct measures are taken, but still the right decision was made and the child was admitted. According to ethical issues, the daycare should have been sued so as to explain how the baby came to have the bilateral structures. If the baby was taken to a different hospital setting, may be the physician there might have recognized the mistake and asked the mother to take necessary steps (Judson, et al.

, 2006). Conclusion Ethical issues in a hospital setting are the issues about justice, the right things and honest things that are done for the benefit of the patient. The main and first principle in ethical issues is the life of the patient. Hospitals have standard ethical issues concerning how nurses should behave and make decisions. In the case study about the 8 month old baby who got bilateral femur structure, the ethical issues are discussed showing the correct decisions that the nurse made as well as other issues on how any other hospital could have handled the situation.


Burnard, P. , Chapman, C. M. and Smallman, S. (2004). Professional and Ethical Issues in Nursing. Churchill Livingstone: Elsevier Health Sciences. Guido, G. W. (2006). Legal and ethical issues in nursing (4th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Judson, K. , Harrison, C. , & Hicks, S. (2006). Law & ethics for medicalcareers (4th ed. ). New York: McGraw-Hill. Rebecca A. , Jones, P. and Beck, E. S. (1995). Decision Making in Nursing. Florence: Thomson Delmar Learning.

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