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Doctors and nurses have a very strict job that requires more time and energy than any other profession does, since there are lives at stake. Due to the heavy workload and backbreaking work routine, some nurses often end up giving to their day to day exhaustion thereby causing trouble to some of their patients.
Facing ethical dilemmas is a part of the job, and it isn’t limited to nursing profession only but can be found in any sector. There are dozens of ethical dilemmas nurses can face in their day to day work. Understanding in advance how to overcome them is the only way you can save yourself from moral distress and trouble. Let’s take a look at those dilemmas:
1. Personal Beliefs Versus Patient’s Choice
This dilemma affects nurses on a very personal level as sometimes the choice of patients can be extremely against the beliefs and values of a nurse. For instance, there comes a situation where the patient chooses to get an abortion done but the nurse considers it to be a murder. Nurses with strict beliefs against abortions are left with a dilemma in such situations as they are not allowed to give opinions or disrespect patient’s choice. At the same time, they have to care for the person who according to them is doing the wrong thing.
2. Freedom And Control
Nurses often find themselves in awkward position when they see a patient making decisions that will harm their own health. For instance, sometimes patients who become frustrated quit taking their medicines and refuse the nurses whenever they try giving them. In such a situation, the nurses know how important medicines are for the patient but do not know how to react: should they force the patient to take the essential medicines, or let the patients make a decision that will ruin their own health.
3. Truth Telling And Information Hiding
Sometimes, family members of a patient ask nurses to hide certain information from patient as they may think to be mentally upsetting for their loved one. But, even if it upsets the patient, do nurses have a right to hide information from them? Nurses face a real hard time in assessing whether the patient has a right to know everything about his health or not. They face a real hard time whether they should do what the family members say or what their personal ethics say.
4. Knowledge Versus Patients’ Beliefs
There might be a case where a nurse knows that patient’s life can only be saved, say through a kidney transplant, while the patient has strict beliefs against organ transplants. How does a nurse need to act and make the patient and his family understand the importance of transplant? It is up to the communication skills of the nurses to inform the patient and his family about the transplant and how it can benefit them and let them lead a happy life.
5. Distribution Of Resources
Usually where there is shortage of resources in hospitals, nurses have to face a dilemma regarding distribution of resources among all the patients regardless of their condition. For instance, there is a patient who is on a life support system with no chances of recovery while on the other hand there is a patient whose life can be saved if given proper treatment and life support system. So, how is a nurse supposed to act and make the family members of a medically futile patient to let go of their family member for the life of the other patient?
While sometimes nurses may get enough time to realize what is right and wrong and how should they react to any situation, there are times when the decisions are to be made right at the spot. So, being a nurse all you need to do is to learn how to figure out situations quick and act in a manner that is right for the patient’s own health.
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