As a nurse, there is no doubt that your job is both rewarding and challenging. In the world of nursing, caring for others is not just a profession but a passion too. It requires compassion, dedication, and a strong commitment to uphold Nursing ethics principles.
Nursing requires high ethical standards due to the nature of its work, which involves caring for vulnerable people. Ethical practices in nursing play a crucial role in maintaining patient confidentiality and upholding their dignity and rights.
Nurses are constantly confronted with ethical decisions that directly impact the health and well-being of patients. To provide high-quality and compassionate care, they must be familiar with and practice ethical considerations and principles.
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What are Nursing Ethics and Principles
As a nurse, you have a noble calling that requires undivided attention and a solid commitment to the profession. In nursing, your patients place trust and expectations in you, making your job one of the most important in the healthcare sector.
With the expectation placed on nurses comes the need to be mindful of ethical and moral principles in performing their duties. Nursing ethics and principles provide a guideline for nurses to adhere to while carrying out their roles.
In this sense, ethics is a moral code of conduct that outlines the right and wrong ways of acting. Nursing ethics also involve promoting patient confidentiality, honesty, and transparency.
By doing so, nurses uphold their professional responsibilities, deliver quality patient care and contribute to improving healthcare delivery in their communities.
Ethical Nursing Considerations
A nurse must follow ethical principles and guidelines to provide patient care safely and effectively. Some of these ethics include:
Informed consent is the process by which patients are provided with all the necessary information about their health condition, the proposed treatment options, and the possible outcomes before they make any decision about their care.
This information should be delivered in a language and style that patients can easily understand. Patients should also be given enough time to ask questions and clarify doubts before signing the consent form.
One of the main reasons why informed consent is necessary is to protect the patient’s autonomy, which is their right to make decisions about their health. Additionally, it is an essential legal document protecting healthcare providers against legal action.
Patients receiving treatment without informed consent can sue healthcare providers for medical malpractice. Healthcare providers should ensure that patients are well-informed about their health condition and treatment options before making decisions about their care.
Respect for Autonomy
Nurses are often tasked with making difficult ethical decisions that require a delicate balance of respect for the patient’s autonomy and the need to promote their well-being. Autonomy refers to a person’s ability to make choices and decisions regarding their health, treatment options, and life in general.
Patients can refuse or accept treatments and procedures based on their beliefs, values, and personal preferences. However, respecting autonomy does not mean abandoning our responsibility as healthcare professionals to promote health and prevent harm.
The patient’s decision may not always be in their best interest, but we must respect it. Nurses must recognize the patient’s rights, advocate for their preferences and needs, and collaborate to create a treatment plan that works for them.
Acquiring autonomy is one of the benefits of master’s degree in nursing from a prominent institution such as Elmhurst University. Their programs are flexible to bring more prepared nurses into the workforce. They also give leadership skills and opportunities. Hence, nurses can influence and strategically advise others as they collaborate with other professionals to lead teams to improve patient outcomes.
Nurses always take an oath to prioritize their patients’ well-being. Non-maleficence, simply put, means to “do no harm.” It is merely the ethical principle of not causing harm.
Nurses must ensure that they don’t cause harm to their patients while carrying out their duties. In nursing, non-maleficence is achievable in many ways, such as preventing patient falls, minimizing pain and suffering, administering medications correctly, and monitoring vital signs.
However, non-maleficence isn’t limited to the physical well-being of the patient. It also applies to the psychological and emotional well-being of the patient.
Nurses need to understand their actions’ impact on the patients. Things like withholding information, making patients feel powerless, and treating patients without empathy can also be harmful.
It is, therefore, an ethical principle that cannot be overlooked in nursing, and we must always strive to uphold it in every patient interaction.
As nurses, our primary goal is to promote the health and well-being of our patients. In doing so, we must always prioritize beneficence as an ethical consideration.
Beneficence refers to the act of doing good or promoting the well-being of others. In nursing, this involves advocating for our patients and providing them with the highest level of care possible.
Nurses are responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients to improve their health outcomes. To do this effectively, nurses must prioritize the well-being of their patients above all else.
This may involve taking a holistic approach to patient care, considering their physical health and emotional and social needs. It can involve making difficult decisions, such as withholding treatment that may be harmful or ineffective.
In some cases, the most beneficent course of action may be to provide palliative care to patients at the end of their life. By remaining committed to beneficence, we can give patients the care and compassion they deserve.
Confidentiality is an essential ethical consideration in the nursing profession. Nurses are in a unique position of trust where they have access to their patient’s private medical information, and it is their responsibility to safeguard this information.
In a world where privacy has become a rare commodity, maintaining confidentiality in healthcare is all the more critical. This is because when patients disclose sensitive information, they trust their nurse, knowing it is shared with their healthcare team in the strictest confidence.
Any breach of confidentiality can lead to patients feeling betrayed and can compromise their healthcare outcomes. With advances in technology, the risks of a breach of confidentiality have increased, and healthcare workers must be aware of the risks and how to prevent them.
Nurses can maintain confidentiality by maintaining strict confidentiality policies, guidelines, and protocols, creating a culture of confidentiality, and ensuring all healthcare workers adhere to confidentiality policies and guidelines.
Respect for Human Dignity
In nursing, human dignity, at its core, refers to the intrinsic worth of all individuals, regardless of their age, gender, social status, or medical condition. It recognizes that everyone has the right to be treated with respect, kindness, and compassion and protected from harm or exploitation.
Respect for human dignity manifests in many ways in our patient interactions and decision-making processes. It means acknowledging and honoring each person’s identity has a cultural, spiritual, and emotional dimension and striving to provide responsive care.
It means listening attentively to their concerns, fears, and hopes and collaborating to develop individualized care plans tailored to their needs and goals. Research has shown that patients who feel respected, heard, and valued by their healthcare providers are more likely to trust them, adhere to treatment plans, and experience positive health outcomes.
Conversely, patients who feel disregarded, neglected, or discriminated against may be less likely to engage in care and experience more significant psychological distress and physical symptoms.
As healthcare professionals, nurses have a tremendous responsibility towards their patients. Justice in nursing refers to the fair and equitable distribution of healthcare resources to all patients, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, or other demographic factors.
Nurses have a unique role in ensuring justice in healthcare. They are at the forefront of patient care and are responsible for ensuring that all patients receive equitable and ethical treatment.
Nurses must ensure that healthcare resources are distributed based on patients’ needs rather than their ability to pay. As a nurse, it is crucial to advocate for patients’ rights and be aware of any discriminatory practices that might prevent them from receiving the care they need.
In addition to individual efforts, nurses can promote justice in healthcare through advocacy, education, and collaboration. Advocacy involves raising awareness and influencing policy changes that promote equitable distribution of resources.
Accountability is an obligation that healthcare professionals have towards their patients, colleagues, and society. Accountability in nursing is about taking responsibility for your actions, being transparent, and upholding ethical standards.
As a nurse, you are accountable for providing quality patient care. You are responsible for assessing their health, developing, and implementing care plans, and ensuring they receive appropriate treatment.
In addition, you are accountable for maintaining accurate and complete patient records, communicating effectively with your colleagues, and ensuring that you follow the rules and regulations of your profession.
One of the critical aspects of accountability in nursing is transparency. This means you are honest and open in your interactions with your patients and colleagues. You should be willing to admit to your mistakes and take corrective action if necessary.
Principles of Nursing Practice
Nursing practice is a dynamic field that demands practitioners remain updated on various healthcare concepts and trends. As a nurse, it’s essential to adhere to the principles of nursing practice to provide optimal patient care. These principles act as a guide to nurses, ensuring that they follow ethical and professional standards.
Communication is not just about talking; it’s about listening, understanding, and bonding with the patient. Effective communication is a critical nursing component, starting with the first interaction.
Every word, gesture, and touch sets the stage for how patients perceive their care. We can better understand their needs and concerns by listening actively and engaging with the patient.
This creates a positive and reassuring environment that puts the patient at ease, promotes healing, and fosters trust. Establishing an effective line of communication with our patients benefits the patient and makes our job more accessible and satisfying.
Information and Education
Nurses must provide accurate information about patients’ conditions and treatment options to ensure they understand and actively participate in their care. Nurses play a vital role in educating patients and their families about their healthcare.
The education provided is not only about the illness or treatment but also covers how patients can manage their condition to prevent complications and promote health and wellness.
Information and education include health promotion and disease prevention among healthcare professionals and policymakers in the community. Nurses provide health education and resources to schools, community centers, workplaces, and religious institutions to promote health and prevent illnesses.
As a nurse, one of the most critical roles is ensuring patients feel safe, valued, and cared for during their hospital stay. Emotional support in nursing goes beyond the usual medical treatment and checking vital signs.
It involves listening to the concerns and fears of patients, empathizing with their pain and discomfort, and offering a shoulder to cry on. Patients who receive emotional support are more likely to recover quickly and experience better outcomes than those who do not.
Providing emotional support also means showing patients that you care for them beyond their illness and that their emotional needs matter as much as their physical ones.
Involvement of Family and Friends
The principle of involving family and friends in the healthcare process is vital, as it fosters a sense of togetherness and support, which is critical for the patient’s well-being.
They can provide valuable information regarding the patient’s medical history, medication routines, and nutritional needs. Moreover, family and friends can also provide a vital support system for patients in difficult times.
As nursing professionals, we must encourage the involvement of family and friends in healthcare and create a welcoming environment that encourages open communication between patients, their loved ones, and healthcare providers.
As the world around us changes, so must our understanding and applying ethical considerations and principles in nursing.
Ethical considerations and principles are an integral part of nursing. By upholding these principles in our daily practice, we help ensure that we meet the highest standards of ethical conduct and that our patients receive the care they need and deserve.
We must always strive to do what is best for the patient, even if it requires going above and beyond our job duties.