HCA 322 Health Care Ethics & Medical Law
Instructor: Jennine Kinsey
August 18, 2012
Ethical Issues for Nurses
Ethical issues have always affected the role of the professional nurse. Efforts to enact this standard may cause conflict in health care settings in which the traditional roles of the nurse are delineated within a bureaucratic structure. Nurses have more direct contact with patients than one can even imagine, which plays a huge role in protecting the patients’ rights, and creating ethical issues for the nurses caring for the various patients they are assigned to. In this paper I will discuss some of the ethical and legal issues that nurses are faced with each and every day. Ethics deals with standards of conduct and moral judgment. The major principles of healthcare ethics that must be upheld in all situations are beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice. Beneficence means promoting or doing good. Nurses work to promote their clients' best interests and strive to achieve optimal outcomes. Nonmaleficence means avoiding harm. Nurses must maintain a competent practice level to avoid causing injury or suffering to clients. The principle of nonmaleficence also covers reporting suspected abuse to prevent further victimization and protecting clients from chemically impaired nurses and other healthcare practitioners. Autonomy stands for independence and the ability to be self-directed. Clients have the right of self-determination and are entitled to decide what happens to them; therefore, competent adults have the capacity to consent to or refuse treatment. Nurses must respect the client's wishes, even if they don't agree with them. Finally, justice requires that all clients be treated equally and fairly. Nurses face issues of justice daily when organizing care for their clients and deciding how much time they will spend with each based on client needs and a fair distribution of resources (Pozgar,...