Ethics in Professional Nursing Practice

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This assignment addresses the implications relating to an ethical dilemma encountered in practice using an appropriate model of reflection. The assignment will highlight ethical theories and four guiding ethical principles, such as autonomy, beneficence, paternalism and non-malificence. The two main principles that will be discussed in depth will be autonomy and beneficence and how they impact on practice. I will use Bortons (1970) reflective model, which was taken from Jasper (2003).

An incident, which occurred on practice placement, involved a patient’s decision to withdraw from active treatment. It is hoped that by exploring the incident in depth, a greater understanding of moral and ethical principles will be gained. All names that will be used within the text are pseudonyms. This is to ensure confidentiality, as stated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC 2004).

Health care professionals have a legal and moral obligation to care. They have to respect the patient’s decision even though they themselves find it difficult (Butts and Rich 2005). Decisions are not unproblematic. They have to be rationalised, as there are many dividing thoughts, which must be acknowledged.

The dilemma occurred whilst on practice placement with District Nurses (DN) in the community. It involved a 72-year-old female whom we shall refer to as Clare, who made a utilitarian decision to forego active treatment. It was an autonomous decision and the DN and I had to respect her choice but we were concerned with the practicalities associated with her judgment. Attempting to relieve pain and suffering is a primary responsibility for the nurse (Butts and Rich 2005).

Clare was extremely weak and she was not able to take the sta...

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