Bryant & Stratton College
July 24, 2013
Why “Cutting Corners” is an Ethical Issue in Nursing
The professional field of nursing is one of the significant roles in the medical industry. A nurse is responsible for the patient and their well-being. Essentially, nursing is a professional role that is involving the patient and their care. Ethically, this is essential to a nurse because it is the meaning of the profession. The American Nurses Association (ANA) describes nursing as the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals” (ANA, 2013). Simply providing care for that individual and helping them back into their normal state of health. Why is patient care ethically significant in nursing? This is important because a nurse ultimately will have a certain type of impact on the patient as well as their family. Patients want to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their condition. They are still human beings. In this profession we also understand that everything is not always in black and white. Patient care is simply the safety and quality provided to the patient. In the nurse profession you have to care about what you are doing. Your position as a nurse should not just be simply receiving a pay check. Patients feel that the problem they have with the nurses is their arrogant attitude, the way they are treated, and how they speak to the patients. We have to care in this profession because it’s described as so. “Caring is a feeling and exhibiting concern and empathy for others; showing or having compassion” (Lachman, 2012). The ethical issue is nurses usually want to “cut corners” or speeding up the process. It could actually cause more harm than good. Cutting corners actually comes into effect when nurses stop caring. Thinking only of yourself will only make you forget about the position you hold as a nurse. You have to understand that this is not about you or the staff you work with. This is about the care you are giving the patients’ period. Most nurses should understand what is expected as a medical professional. Watson mentioned that “Developing and sustain a helping-trusting, authentic caring relationship, and being present to , and supportive of , the expression of positive and negative feelings as a connection with deeper spirit of self and the one-being-cared-for” (Lackman, 2012). The nurse needs to be conscience of her surroundings of any harsh feelings that could affect individuals. Watson also stated that, “The nurse should also look at the uniqueness of the individual and go to all lengths possible to preserve the patient’s dignity” (Lachman, 2012). What I have noticed in the nursing field is that most nurses don’t care like they used to; there is no caring attitude on how we treat or speak to the patient. I feel that cutting corners is really how this issue is started. You can start to only care about your success and your well-being verses caring for that particular patient or patients. Ethically, this is a huge problem, because cutting corners can cause tremendous damage to the patient, the organization, and to the nurse. Cutting corners can cause you to miss steps, inappropriately educating the patient and their family, causing dispute or error in the place of employment. When we follow the policies and procedures of the hospital it’s not only to protect ourselves as the employee and the employer, but it’s also the patients’ interest at heart. “The nurse with a professional work ethic delivers quality patient care, which can affect patient outcomes” (Bartzak, 2010). In the medical industry when there is cutting corners; there is always a solution to each problem. “I found that in any medical facility whether it is in a hospital, nursing-home, or home health care, studies have shown a positive impact of patient rounds on nurse-sensitive outcomes and related specific measures to assure success” (Kessler, 2012). The meaning of ethics is a system of moral principles of an individual. Morally, what we know to be right or wrong. Patient care in the nursing profession is about having a moral and ethical standard on how you treat the patients and others. It is our duty to provide the best service for that patient, to care for them and bring them back into health. These reasons are important, but surprisingly enough nurses do not provide the care needed because they feel that it is not their job to. It is in our profession to provide patient care otherwise it wouldn’t be needed. This is an issue in nursing because we disregard the true meaning of quality and safety of patient care. We are trying to go against each other instead of working together as professionals. “Staff can become complacent and though they truly may enter the room every hour, not engage in the defined process” (Kessler, 2012). The issues with “cutting corners” as a nurse could actually cause danger or compromise the quality and safety care of the patient (Salladay, 2006). Cutting corners can be numerous situations that could cost you your job or even suspension. Ethically, nurses should always follow policies and procedures. These steps are here to make sure we are doing our job effectively, professionally, and correctively. There should not be any reason you would have to cut any corners. If anything, work smarter not harder. That doesn’t mean you have to cut corners to get your job done. Cutting corners isn’t enthused for the nurses as well as the patients. There are numerous reasons, such as stress and emotional turmoil the nurse could be experiencing. Also communicating effectively to the patients and making sure that the patients understand during patient teaching (patient education). “Ethics provide us with ideals; the real world presents problems that we need to surmount to live up to our ideals” (Haddad, 2003). Patients can always assume what a nurse says and misinterpret everything that was told during patient education. I think that a nurse should have all the time in the world to discuss certain aspects of the patient care and education the patient. “The number one barrier that inhibits patient education is time” (Haddad, 2003). This is effective communicating skills; a nurse should provide all information possible to the patient, or to relative, or care giver so they have the understanding to be able to take care of him or herself; or their loved one. “Nurses and patients need adequate time to discuss various aspects of care” (Haddad, 2003). A nurse’s priority should only be on the quality and safety of patient care for each patient. Providing what is needed medically for that patient to be able to resurface to normal health. This can be an issue involving all nurses worldwide or even just minority areas. But this is an ethical issue because it’s very common. Most patients would say that they didn’t understand what the nurse or doctor explained to them because it wasn’t taught in layman’s terms. Cutting corners could be numerous examples a nurse would do to make her situation or job better for herself. A lot of times it’s not the best way to handle the situation or problem. “An example would be, conditions of short-staffing, just how much time should we allocate to patient education, in this situation of scarcity, allocating time for all the tasks, treatments, and care that a patient needs is complicated” (Haddad, 2003). A nurse should always spend time with the patient helping them understand their situation and educating them on their medical history. “Care is crucial for human development, and is first and foremost aimed at physical needs. Caring is necessary on the biological level for infants to survive, but also for the patient who is dependent at end of life” (Lachman, 2012). This is essential because we are trying to enhance the improvement of patient education which is a part of patient care. You are caring for this patient so you want their best interest at heart. “Caring is an important aspect of life and it is essential to health care, some will tell you that nurses are the only health care professionals who understand the art of caring” (Quan, 2007). The nurse should focus on all of the patients that are suffering from a medical issue. Which means every person within that office or any case, a nurse is a team player at all cost. “The principle of distributive justice in this case means that we believe that all members of society who are ill should have access to good medical care” (Haddad, 2003). Patients are different. We can’t treat them the same because they have different education requirements. Some patients can understand quicker or more quickly than others. I’ve also learned that if you were to do hourly rounds on a regular basis it will go smoothly for all shifts. “Findings show that specific actions incorporated into regular nursing rounds can reduce the frequency of patients’ call light use, increases their satisfaction with nursing care, and reduces falls” (Kessler, 2003). This came into effect because the nursing staff cut corners caused a dispute within the medical industry. “Industries around the country may be suffering from the economic downturn, but that is no excuse to cut corners on health and safety, employers have been warned” (Paton, 2008). This means that cutting corners will have a huge effect on quality and safety of patient care. “Patient rounding officially began in late May 2006, and continues to the present; rounds now occur hourly, including throughout the night” (Kessler, 2012). This is a great example on improving patient care. This enhancement is exactly what is needed for the nursing staff. This is what is called teamwork. We want to be able to provide the best caring service for the patients that are in our care. This is important because it can minimize or stop the “cutting corners.” Here is the actual data showing the improvement of the rounding process.
Since there was a recent study examined hourly rounding it was confirmed careful planning, communication, implementation, and evaluation are required for success (Kessler, 2012). It’s a known factor that if the nursing staff work together to accomplish these goals it will be a professional and caring atmosphere for everyone. “Nurses have an ethical obligation to help patients understand their health problems and treatments. Keep abreast of research on patient education. There’s much we need to learn to anticipate the different learning needs of our patients-and make time to meet those needs” (Kessler, 2012). Nurses have the responsibility to the patient to make sure that we are following each policy and procedures to ensure that the patient is getting everything that individual needs to a normal healthy state. Patient rounds are just one of the examples to help with getting new information and understanding through the patient. Cutting corners is a serious matter, ethically there should be commitment to the rounding concept and demonstrated through holding staff accountable for implementation in accordance with the protocol (Kessler, 2012). In the nursing profession, caring goes a long way, in understanding the commitment you have towards yourself and the patients. The nurses that show a professional work ethic deliver a higher quality of care, and develop a professional work ethic by using internal resources to continually develop their nursing knowledge and renew their commitment to the highest ideals of the profession (Bartzak, 2010).
My experience as a nurse assistant gave me the opportunity to work with the nurses. Some were great and understood the quality and safety of patient care. And there were mostly the other nurses that didn’t have a care in the world about the patients because of their own attitude or character. This is a worldwide observance; there are many examples of “cutting corners” patient rounds are a great solution for teamwork and effectiveness throughout any healthcare facility. It’s utilizing the staff and communicating with the patients, educating the patients, and evaluating their health at that given moment. When nurses are cutting corners there not giving their all, they are being selfish and aren’t caring about the patient’s needs before their own. Ultimately nursing is a sacrifice to focus on others and their health. Nurses are making sure that they are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of their healthcare needs. “Care can be considered simply an ethical task and thus a burden of one more thing to do, or it can be considered a commitment to attending to and becoming enthusiastically involved in the patient’s needs” (Lachman, 2012).
It took me a long time to think about what my mind wanted to do research in an ethical issue for nursing. As I searched on the database, I wanted to do research on a topic that I would want to really discuss. My topic was about cutting corners as a nurse and a solution to this issue. Typically, this subject spoke to me because at one time I was a nurse assistant. I worked side-by-side with nurses. I would like acknowledge the wonderful nurses that will help and teach different things to those that are working towards becoming a nurse. Then you have those nurses that don’t care too much about the patient and cut corners, and leave responsibilities with other nurses without consulting them. Through this research I’ve learned that being a nurse isn’t just passing out meds nor doing paperwork. That title stands out with just taking care of an individual that aren’t in their normal healthy state. Cutting corners is an ethical issue because it is a safety hazard for patients. It’s a safety hazard because patient care is the quality and safety care for the patient. Cutting corners can put that patient or staff in danger. This topic is important to me because becoming a nurse this is what is expected ethically is the care of patients and how well we care for them. In my research in cutting corners, is important for those in this field because of the consequences it can hold. I thought that becoming a nurse is a great accomplishment, but also understanding the responsibilities we uphold.
Bartzak, P.J. (2010). Professional Work Ethic. Strategies. To motivate bedside nurses to deliver high-quality patient care. MEDSURG Nursing. 19(2),85-89.
Haddad, A. (2003). Cutting corners on patient ed?. Rn. 66(7), 23.
Harrison, L. (2006). Maintaining the ethic of caring in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing. pp. 255-257. Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2006.03848 -1.x.
Kessler, B., Claude-Gutekunst, M., Donchez, A. M., Dries, R. F., Dries, R.F., & Snyder, M.M. (2012). The Merry-Go-Round of Patient Rounding: Assure your patients get the brass ring. MEDSURG Nursing, 21(4). 240-245.
Lachamn, V.D. (2012) Applying the ethics of care to your nursing practice. MEDSURG Nursing. 21(2). 112-116.
Salladay, S.A. (2006) Ethical problems. Nursing. 36(4).28-29.