Healthcare professionals face the challenge of resolving ethical dilemmas on a regular basis. This paper will discuss a hypothetical ethical dilemma in a healthcare setting as if it were the author’s. Competing loyalties between the organization and patient will be indentified and an ethical response will be provided along with contrasting ethical responses. Implications to risk management will be considered and an ethical decision making model will be identified to guide future actions. The Situation
Clumsy Walker is an 82 year old female that has been hospitalized due to pneumonia. She has mild dementia and is a high fall risk. She has a history of broken hips and has a tendency to wonder and has been found wondering the halls twice by staff members on two separate occasions. Mrs. Walker has an intravenous (IV) line. The staff has expressed concern that she may fall and dislodge the IV or wander off somewhere and unintentionally hurt herself. As a result, the suggestion has been made to restrain Mrs. Walker although she has been adamant that she does not want to be restrained. The Ethical Dilemma
An ethical dilemma is “a situation that requires an individual to make a choice between two equally unfavorable alternatives” (Aiken, 2004, p.100). In this case, the ethical dilemma is whether to restrain Mrs. Walker against her will and thus protect herself and the organization or to respect her wish to not be restrained and determine an acceptable alternative course of action.
The healthcare provider has competing loyalties between the organization and the patient. One of the healthcare provider’s primary loyalties is a duty to do good for the patient (beneficence) and in this case doing no harm (non-maleficence) (Aiken, 2004). They also have a duty to the organization to minimize liability by managing the fall risk, or other potential harm to the patient. “Unfortunately, in situations where patients are unable to make...