Ethics in Nursing Research

Nurses occasionally experience numerous ethical dilemmas. Research suggests that when individuals encounter extreme situations, they have a tendency to make moral compromises and abandon the illusion that some values are infinitely important (Johnstone & Turale, 2014). This scenario is termed “ethical fading.” It is where self-deception, encompassing slope decision-making, language euphemisms, and mistakes in perceptual causation play a key role in overestimating the individuals’ character towards being ethical and limiting their capacity to be involved in unethical behavior (Johnstone & Turale, 2014). A person’s faith is integral to his character formation that always determines his performance as a nurse. Edward Hahnenberg noted that vocation unearths deeply embedded sensibilities such as identity, integrity, and itinerary in a way that counters the effect of self-absorption (Wendlinder, 2011).  Thus, it is important to mention that decisions nurses make come as a response to someone or something beyond. This essay analyses the given scenario in relation to nurses’ response with reference to ANA code of ethics, three ethical challenges they face in preparation to similar disasters, and how personal faith relates to the nursing protocols outlined in the scenario.

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ANA Сode of Ethics and the Scenario

The protocol partially refutes America Nurses Association Code of Ethics. The protocol in the medical center requires that those with severe injuries are given the first priority during treatment while those who are dying are not attended to. According to provision 1, nurses are mandated to practice with compassion and respect for the worth, dignity, and distinct attributes of every patient (ANA, 2015). The third interpretative statement about the nature of health problem stipulates that the nurse must not let functional status of the patient influence determination of the individual’s worth in order to receive care (ANA, 2015). The role of a nurse is to respect the rights and worth of those requiring nursing support as well as health restoration, comfort, and health promotion. Despite the fact that the fate of the dying is already sealed and the nurses cannot do much to revive them, the ANA code of ethics states that a nurse should provide comfort and pain management to the patient even if such actions are likely to hasten death. The main point of emphasis is on avoiding needless suffering and pain at the last stages of life. It is clear from this scenario that the medical center completely ignores the needs of dying patients to reduce their suffering. As such, the nurses would not have acted in compassion and respect that the ten patients deserve. It is also important to note that those ten patients would not find a bed to die on, thus making the treatment they receive fall short of their worth. Therefore, this medical protocol breaches ANA code of ethics considering the first provision.

On the other hand, the medical center in Ozaukee County follows provision four in ANA code of ethics statement. Provision four stipulates that the nurse has authority, responsibility, and accountability to decide and act consistently with the mandate in order to promote health and ensure availability of optimal care (ANA, 2015). These practices include independent activities in direct nursing as ordered by an authorized healthcare provider. The first interpretative statement indicates that nurses are obliged to comply with and follow the standards, acts, and regulations of care in the state (ANA, 2015).  These very regulations ensure discipline in nursing profession. If everything was left for compassion as spelt out in provision 1, the nurse’s actions in handling dying, severely injured patients, and those with minor injuries would completely depend on a nurse’s personal faith, sense of morality, and dignity. The protocol in this medical center may not be a likable one but as long as it exists, the facility would operate smoothly with much orderliness. Thus, provision four of ANA code of ethics is upheld in this scenario.

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Ethical Challenges Nurses Face in Preparing for Disasters

Nursing profession numbers the largest personnel in a healthcare system worldwide. They are quintessential in any coordinated response to public health disasters with mass casualties. Just like doctors, they continually occupy primary positions where they have to make difficult moral choices. This is a result of altered care standards aimed to allow rapid changes in the practice. Thus, nurses are vulnerable to issues concerning restrictions, rationing, and responsibilities in providing life-sustaining care during disasters.

Maintaining Professional Responsibility

Professionally, nurses have  to be responsible, perfectly make their work, demonstrate uttermost selflessness, dedication, non-discrimination (justice), unprejudiced care provision, correct performance of procedures, and respect to human life. Disasters always stretch nurses to work over their normal scope of practice. For instance, nurses have to make an ethical decision regarding the patient’s removal from life supports without obtaining his full consent since there is not enough time to follow the normal procedures (Johnstone & Turale, 2014). Other critical decisions include sacrificing preferences and values of individual patients to meet the interests of the community and triaging those injured to palliative care during the disaster while an active treatment is the best way to save their lives (Johnstone & Turale, 2014).  In short, the sense of professional responsibility that nurses are expected to demonstrate in  face of the disaster occasionally prevails over their personal needs.

Observing Ethics

Ethical obligation and respect for the patients’ rights despite the circumstances is a big challenge. These challenges are met when there is a need to respect dignity and rights of patients in a disaster, in respecting fellow nurses, abiding to principles of appropriate care, avoiding violation of ethics, ensuring integrity of records, and maintaining an ethical behavior while dealing with unconscious patients (Johnstone &Turale, 2014). Another ethical action that is difficult to observe is respect to religious beliefs, without which treatment may encroach on personal space and cause patients great stress. In summary, disasters give rise to numerous ethical dilemmas that make it difficult to follow the established ethical codes of conduct and operations.

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Adherence to Law

Everyday nursing practice is overseen by preexisting laws. However, environmental changes during a disaster may adjust laws. Consequently, nurses are exposed to risk of liability and discrimination while providing medical triage (Johnstone & Turale, 2014). These challenges necessitate accountability, transparency, and fairness in making decisions. Additionally, nurses feel pressured when exercising unauthorized skills since there is lax supervision, and individual’s ethical standard becomes more important. In short, adherence to law is a big ethical dilemma that nurses have to deal with because disasters prompt creation of new laws whenever there is a change of environment.

Personal Faith and Protocols

My personal faith is integral to my performance in the nursing profession. As a Christian, one of the key biblical principles I follow is to obey the authority and do everything as unto the Lord. Being a nurse, I am sure that everything I do for a patient must done excellently as if it is meant to honor someone supreme.

Observing protocols is an act of obedience to the authority. As a Christian, I am imbued with compassion and respect to a patient’s life. In regard, I am mandated to abstain from any activity that can be considered a murder such as removing a patient from life support without his consent. In the presented scenario, the protocols are clearly stipulated. As a Christian, it is not my position to question any even though I believe that all people should be provided with care even if they are on the verge of dying. Besides, those protocols influence my conscience but not my religious beliefs. Therefore as a Christian, I am obliged to obey the medical authority within the facility where I work hence the right course of action would be to uphold the protocols and perhaps only repeal them through proper channels.

In conclusion, this essay analyses the scenario depicting medical response to a disaster in Ozaukee County in relation to nurses’ respect to ANA code of ethics, three ethical challenges they face in preparation to disasters, and how personal faith relates to the nursing protocols outlined in the scenario. Disasters often cause unique ethical challenges. Those challenges always require strong efforts to strike a balance between collective and individual rights. At the same time, embedding ethical principles and values in most aspects of a health-care practice is of a great importance.

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