The Ethical Dilemma of Assisted Suicide for Nurses

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The Code of Ethics for Nurses was created to be a guide for nurses to perform their duties in a way that is abiding with the ethical responsibilities of the nursing profession and quality in nursing care. The Code of Ethics has excellent guidelines for how nurses should behave, however; these parameters are not specific. They do not identify what is right and wrong, leaving nurses having to ultimately make that decision. Ethics in nursing involves individual interpretation based on personal morals and values. Nursing professionals have the ethical accountability to be altruistic, meaning a nurse who cares for patients without self-interest. This results in a nurse functioning as a patient advocate, making decisions that are in the best interest of the patient and practicing sound nursing ethics.
Since ethical dilemmas are not always easily answered through the use of The Code of Ethics, ethical decision-making models are effective tools that can assist nurses in dealing with ethical issues. Ethical decision-making models provide a framework for working through difficult choices. They seek to define the limits of what is morally acceptable and help clarify the guidelines for making those difficult decisions. Ethical decision making models assist nurses in analyzing situations by focusing on understanding the patient needs, need for responsiveness to circumstantial considerations, and recognizing the uniqueness of each situation.
In today's society, one of the most controversial health-care-related ethical issues is assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Assisted suicide is not to be confused with ethically justified end-of-life decisions and actions. Nurses have a responsibility to deliver comprehensive and benevol...

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...endent judgments about their own fate. In keeping with this trend there is now a growing drive to review the current laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide.” (McCormack, 1998) Nurses are faced with various ethical dilemmas every day. If theses ethical decisions are not treated in a professional manner there can be harsh consequences for both the patient and the nurse.
The nursing profession is formed upon the Hippocratic practice of "do no harm" and an ethic of moral opposition to ending another human’s life. The Code of Ethics for nurses prohibits intentionally terminating any human life. Nurses are compelled to provide ease of suffering, comfort and ideally a death that is coherent with the values and wishes of the dying patient, however; it is essential that nurses uphold the ethical obligations of the profession and not partake in assisted suicide. (King, 2003)
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