The word ethics originates from the Greek term ethos. Ethos means customs, habitual usage, conduct, and character. The study of ethics has led to establishing key nursing principles such as, autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice, veracity, confidentiality, accountability and fidelity. These key principles help nurses deal with ethical or legal dilemmas. Ethics help by identifying standards, create a framework for ethical dilemmas and maintain human rights, and ethical values. Ethics help to make nurse practice safe, but also promote a positive outcome for the patient. This essay explores and identifys legal and ethical issues, from a case study, that nurses are faced with every day.
The Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia was first developed in 1993 under the auspices of the Australian Nursing Council Inc. , Royal College of Nursing, Australia and the Australian Nursing Federation. In 2000 these peak organisations agreed to undertake a joint project to review the Code of Ethics.
The Code of Ethics is supported by the Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia. While the Code of Ethics focuses on the ethics and ideals of the profession, the Code of Professional Conduct identifies the minimum requirements for practice in the profession, and focuses on the clarification of professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct. The two Codes, together with published practice standards, provide a framework for nursing.
Individuals have the right to make decisions related to their own health care, based on accurate and complete information given by health care providers. Nurses must be satisfied that they have the person’s consent for any care or treatment they are providing. If individuals are not able to provide consent for themselves, nurses have a role in ensuring that valid consent is obtained from the appropriate substitute decision- maker.
Nurses have a responsibility to inform people about the nursing care that is available to them, and people are entitled morally to accept or reject such care. Nurses have a responsibility to respect the decisions made by each individual.
his principle states that an ethical theory should allow people to reign over themselves and to be able to make decisions that apply to their lives. This means that people should have control over their lives as much as possible because they are the only people who completely understand their chosen type of lifestyle. Each man deserves respect because only he has had those exact life experiences and understands his emotions, motivations and body in such an intimate manner. In essence, this ethical principle is an extension of the ethical principle of beneficence because a person who is independent usually prefers to
have control over his life experiences in order to obtain the lifestyle that he enjoys
The principle of beneficence guides the ethical theory to do what is good. This priority to “do good” makes an ethical perspective and possible solution to an ethical dilemma acceptable. This principle is also related to the principle of utility, which states that we should attempt generate the largest ratio of good over evil possible in the world (2). This principle stipulates that ethical theories should strive to achieve the greatest amount of good because people benefit from the most good. This principle is mainly associated with the utilitarian ethical theory found in the following section of this paper. An example of “doing good” is found in the practice of medicine in which the health of an individual is bettered by treatment from a physician (1,2).
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