According to McGonigle and Matrian (2014), ethical decision making is a systematic process that refers to making informed choices pertaining to ethical dilemmas using a set of established standards to differentiate right from wrong. Ethical dilemmas tend to occur when moral issues, that is society’s opinion of what is right and wrong, raises questions that cannot be answered using clearly defined rules, facts, or authoritative views (McGonigle & Matrian, 2014, p. 71). Fortunately, ethical decision making frameworks can be used as a guide to assist clinicians to reach a rational and justifiable decision (McGonigle & Matrian, 2014). In the case study presented, the Ethical Model for Ethical Decision Making will be applied to analyze an ethical dilemma and to synthesize information obtained using problem-solving, critical-thinking, and decision-making skills in order to reach a justifiable decision (McGonigle 2000; McGonigle & Matrian, 2014).
Identification of the Ethical Dilemma and Issues
Sue has a professional, ethical, and legal obligation to advocate for a patient’s rights to privacy and confidentiality of their medical records (McGowan, 2012). Upon examining the facts of the case, she may have inadvertently violated both of these ethical principles. Sue accessed the electronic health records (EHRs) of patients, collected data, and plans to use the information obtained to complete a college assignment. She is also considering using the patient’s data to complete performance evaluations of nurses under her direct supervision, which may or may not violate hospital policies or the American Nurses Association (ANA) code of ethics. Regrettably, Sue most likely violated hospital policies designed to prote...
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...des of conduct to complete the assignment.
Sue has a professional duty to comply with hospital policies and to maintain trusting relationships with patients in order to achieve positive outcomes (Dinc & Gastmas, 2013). She must also uphold ethical principles of nursing and comply with federal laws. In addition, Sue has an obligation to the university to complete coursework without violating student codes of conduct, which could jeopardize the university’s and hospital’s affiliation agreement. Sue must balance the rights of all the key stakeholders, while minimizing their risk of harm (McGonigle & Matrian, 2014).
Therefore, a detailed analysis of each alternative is presented in Table 1. Elements explored include consequences, rule violations that may nullify the alternative, expected outcomes, and the potential benefits of each alternative versus the risk of harm.
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