Ethical Dilemma Synopsis
As nurses, we vow to advocate for our patients by respecting their autonomy and maintaining their dignity. We practice beneficence and veracity when providing patient care. During my time as a student, I have unfortunately heard and seen many breaches in ethical principles regarding patients and their care.
As the nurses exchanged report from the previous shift, they gossiped about a nurse on another medical-surgical unit making a medication error. This specific nurse had had 20 years experience and had reputation of cutting corners. She was administering medication to a patient via nasogastric tube and came across a medication that was extended released tablets. The nurse was behind schedule with giving medication so she documented early, crushed and delivered the enteric-coated pill through the nasogastric tube. Later on during the shift, the patient complained of gastric irritation.
In this instance, the nurse breached beneficence, justice and veracity. She breached beneficence knowing the medication and its route were incompatible with each other. She was aware of the risk of the medication not working at all or maybe that it would be metabolized too fast creating toxic levels. It increased the chance of gastric irritation and a possible risk of the tube becoming obstructed. The patient was not treated fairly and the nurse did not act in her patient’s best interest breaching the ethical principle of justice. She also cut corners and lied by documenting early before giving the medication violating veracity. The nurse manager discovered this medication error and the nurse was written up. I think the manager should have been tougher on the nurse rather than only reprimanded given her reputation and her expertise at the bedside. This error was done out of laziness. The nurse should have called the pharmacy and ordered another form of the pill that was compatible.