Ethical dilemma in nursing profession

Categories: Moral

Ethical dilemma in nursing profession


            Ethics is the study of sensible reckoning. Nurses face ethical dilemmas on their every day practices. Ethical behavior depends on many factors. What one person regard as moral may be different from another person’s approach of the situation? Nurses face ethical dilemma regardless of where they function in wide-ranging roles. These ethical decisions can have an impact to the nurses as well as their patients. In general, there is no appropriate resolution to a moral dilemma.

An ethical dilemma can be defined as a quandary without agreeable solution. The importance of ethical decision making depend on the notion that regardless of many ethical choices made concerning a given ethical dilemma, the resultant choice can pose to neither right nor wrong decision. Ethics involve doing right and causing no impairment. However, definition of ethics varies from one nurse to the other. Ethical guideline classes provide the nurse with appropriate tools to base moral decisions upon.

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Though, these principles are usually shaped by the beliefs, values and knowledge of the nurse. Accordingly, various choices may be raised regarding the identical impasse (Martin & Solomon, 2010).

            There are various ethical concerns that nurses can come across in the place of work. They include: freedom versus control, quality versus quantity of life, truth telling versus deception, pro-choice versus pro-life, empirical knowledge versus personal beliefs, and distribution of resources. Quantity might focus on an individual life span while quantity focuses on the number of people who will be influenced by the judgment.

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Quality address the goodness of life of a person, but it varies depending on how an individual defines “good”. For example; the nurse’s position in supporting the patient deciding among a therapy that will lengthen life, but comprehending the quality of life. The patient’s life may be extended, but will experience major undesirable effects from the therapy. Nurses are called upon to use ethical perceptions in delivering patient care.

            Ethical perceptions include provision of correct, good and rational care. Patients necessitate to be offered prospects to put across their freedom of preference in determining how they desire to be attended and in acquiring services. Ethical nurses recognize that they are obliged to offer individualized care which will help the patient to achieve their highest welfare. Ethical nursing care is based on rational decision making and science. There are four central concepts which are significant to a proficient nursing practice. They include: respect for patient self-rule, the task to operate with generosity, no mischief and justice. Nurses provide respect to the patient self-rule by enhancing and recognizing a patient’s freedom of preference, respect their opinions, and providing privacy. The National League for Nursing issued a statement which highlights patient rights. Nurses are expected to encourage the rights of patients and advocate for patient’s who are unaware of their rights (Pattison, 2010).

            Nurses demonstrate generosity by helping patients to attain their highest welfare. This can be attained by developing health care policies that affect large population or provision of direct care to individual patients. Nurses are not allowed to cause any impairment to their patients. This is the principal of non-mischief. Nurses often do have to carry out operations which make the patients uncomfortable. For example, when a nurse is administering an injection to the patient. Patients need medication to relief the sicknesses, though, in the process of relieving the symptom, the nurse might cause a discomfort. Non-mischief must be balanced by kindness, while providing patient care. The objective of the nurse provides a treatment whose benefit must outweigh the discomfort caused. The nurse objective must be to help rather than causing harm. Fairness and justice in nursing care is usually linked to the delivery of services. The current health care reform strategy is an end result of people acknowledging that the present health care system requires restructuring. Controversy arises over what is reasonable, fair, and economically realistic.

            Nurses are involved at every phase of current health care system, assisting with policy development and decision making. Professionals propose that nursing concept of ethical care is exceptional case and needs serious implementation throughout the nursing practice. It is related to medical model of ethics since it deals with lie and death matters. The nursing model is one of the personal patient empowerment. Ethical nurses direct health care reform plan which put emphasis on healing even in situations where curing is impossible. It position quality of life at the front line. Ethical dilemmas which the nurses face everyday are very diverse. They include assorted topics such as end of life care and staffing ratios (Martin & Solomon, 2010).

            Nurses might face ethical dilemma as they attend patients with disabilities which might position them at risk for self-harm. For instance, an elderly patient might be willing to stroll without regulation. The nurse desires to promote patient autonomous, though the possibility of patient harm because of falling may be large. The dilemma is how to balance the contrasting situations. The nurse is in a dilemma to decide which one is more significant between safety and independence. Each family, patient and health care staff faces these challenges in daily basis. Significant challenges may be experienced by nurses operating with parents who have infants with mental or physical disabilities. The nurse is left to decide whether it is ethical to subject the infant to an untested process which will inflict pain if it provides them with single chance of survival. The nurses have to decide whether it is ethical to prolong life while the quality of life is being comprehended.

            Recent research findings reveal that, nurses as caregivers central to health care, face an increasing rate of ethical dilemma. The technology is helping patients to survive serious sicknesses. However, recent studies reveal that people are surviving, but they are not living decent lives. Nurses have a task of executing clinical and educational operations which deal with the issue that professional care provides. The other dilemma is that there are inadequate health care resources across the world. The resources are also not equally distributed. The nurses are left to ensure that there is equitable distribution of health care resources. Patients from diverse cultures and personal experiences may present with different opinions of what is moral. The nurse can serve as resource to make sure that every individual feels that their opinions were considered. They have to decide who should get the inadequate resources? For instance, nurses working with patients living in vegetative state; nurses decide whether these patients should be left on life maintenance? The overheads of sustaining these patients are high. The patients might be consuming possessions that could be utilized by patients whom such expensive interventions, if accessible, could set aside their lives. The dilemma is determining the position of the nurse when a family wishes to go on with life hold up for a medically ineffective patient. Retrieved from

            Pro-choice versus pro-life: This concern impinge on nurses in person. Scores of the positions that the nurses are working in this dilemma depend on their own thinking and principles. The question is how good should a nurse attend a patient, who procured an abortion, while the nurse regards abortion as killing? Whether there is possibility of that nurse with very divergent principles support that patient’s freedom to choose her independence?

            Freedom versus control: whether a patient has the freedom to make preferences on their own that are likely to harm them, or should the nurse put off this option? For instance, a patient wishes to impede eating, but the nurse recognizes the consequences will impair the patient. The dilemma is whether the nurse has the “right” to make the patient eat food cogently.

            Truth telling versus dishonesty: This is an additional problem that nurses may possibly have to cope with, particularly when families wish to refute telling the patient the fact about the medical stipulation. The ethical concern is what a nurse should do when family members persist telling the patient the diagnosis will cause impairment? How can a nurse recognize if this is correct? Whether the patient has the right to identify?

            Pragmatic knowledge versus personal belief: In this impasse, evidence based experience in nursing practice is compared to beliefs got from such issues as religious values. For instance, what the nurse is expected to do when a patient who has been admitted to a hospital that urgently needs a transfusion to survive though the patient has the conviction that transfusions are improper? The nurse recognizes this patient will pass out devoid of the transfusion. The question is how the nurse lays an emphasis if the patient’s members insist on the patient’s option and still be compassionate of the family’s and patient’s right to this verdict?

            Ethical dilemmas in nursing occur in their daily practices whereby they are required to make decisions. The resolutions made will be determined by so many aspects including ethics educated in school and their individual values, beliefs and knowledge. The issue is that the choice might be neither right nor wrong. This leaves the nurses at a dilemma since they have to make decisions based on the situation.

            Ethical issues in nursing must be addressed depending on the changes that are occurring in the economy. Nurses and patient family members among other community factors determine whether the patient will get the maximum well being. However, ethics require that the nurse should not harm the patient. The nurse faces hard moment to decide between what is moral and the impact of the verdict. Nurses care for the patients by acknowledging their personal strongholds, motivations and other supportive resources. The nurse is also required to give comfort and guidance to enable the patient and their families to deal with short-run and long-term problems. Retrieved from

            The most crucial resources that a nurse can provide to a patient are the appropriate information regarding their treatment and conditions and the approach of coping with both. Anxiety reduction is also crucial in nursing profession, where the nurse is supposed to answer the patient’s questions in an honest way. On the other hand, the patient’s families may insist that the nurse should not disclose the information to the patient. Thus, nurses are left to make decisions based on ethical principles. The decisions made by nurses have an impact to the nurses themselves as well as the patient and their families (Pattison, 2010).

            Various ethical theories subsist, though none of the ethical principles, theories, or decision-making plan provides a supreme guide to first-rate action. They do, nevertheless, provide a structure for working through resolutions by seeking to describe the limits of ethically satisfactory behavior and by explicating guidelines for making judgment within those restrictions. In other terms, they facilitate the decision making procedure, but does not the precise decision to be made.

            In conclusion, ethical principles are very significant in the nursing practices since they guide the nurses to make their every day decisions. The nurses, however, face ethical dilemma since they are not able to decide whether they are not able to determine whether their decision is either right or wrong. Nursing is a profession that requires a lot of decision making since they are working to save patient lives, though they are required to make decisions depending on the code of ethics.


Major Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2014, from

Martin, C. W., Vaught, W., & Solomon, R. C. (2010). Ethics across the professions: a reader for professional ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Nursing Ethics - Ethical Dilemma Faced By Nurses Everyday. (n.d.). Nursing Ethics - Ethical Dilemma Faced By Nurses Everyday. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from

Pattison, S. (2010). Emerging values in health care the challenge for professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

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Ethical dilemma in nursing profession. (2015, Oct 15). Retrieved from

Ethical dilemma in nursing profession
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