Ethical Dilemma

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An Ethical Dilemma in the Health Care Setting

Bobbi K. Handy


November 29, 2010
Barbara Scheibe, RNC, MSN

An Ethical Dilemma in the Health Care Setting

Ethical dilemmas in the health care setting present themselves almost daily. It is imperative that the health care worker be able to understand when an ethical dilemma presents itself and know how to deal with the dilemma in the best interest of all involved. Many ethical dilemmas that health care workers face are difficult. There is no easy fix and often the result is upsetting. Occasionally, an ethical committee is needed to offer solutions and direction. The primary ethical issues in the case study presented will be addressed as well as how to use the ethical principles to address the issues. Personal values and the ethical principles will be addressed and applied as well as how the situation may be handled if the patient were in a different health care setting. A professional nursing organization and how it incorporates ethical principles in their practice will be described. This case study describes an eight month old child in the emergency department with bilateral femur fractures. It presents several ethical issues. The first ethical issue would be the possibility of child abuse by the mother or the day care. Second, the mother waited several hours before seeking care for her child and made no mention of the child’s thighs. The mother reported the child crying constantly for the last several hours, but did not mention looking to see what may have been the cause. The nurse expressed concern that the child may have been injured; however, made no effort to follow up. A case worker, social worker, or proper agency was not consulted. The physician stated that he felt it was not child abuse so he did not report it. Health care workers are governed by law to report suspected abuse to the proper authorities (Fraser, J. A., Mathews, B., & Walsh, K., 2009). The ethical...
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