Ethical dilemma in nursing

Ethical dilemma in nursing

An ethical dilemma in nursing refers to a situation in which a nurse encounters conflicting moral principles or values, making it challenging to determine the best course of action. These dilemmas often involve complex healthcare decisions, conflicting interests, or moral uncertainties. Here are some common examples of ethical dilemmas in nursing:

  1. Patient Autonomy vs. Beneficence: A nurse may face a dilemma when a patient refuses a recommended treatment or procedure that the nurse believes is necessary to promote the patient’s well-being. Balancing the patient’s right to autonomy with the nurse’s duty to act in the patient’s best interest can be challenging.
  2. Confidentiality vs. Duty to Warn: Nurses may encounter dilemmas related to patient confidentiality when they become aware of information that could potentially harm others, such as a patient’s intent to harm themselves or others. Balancing the duty to maintain patient confidentiality with the duty to protect others from harm requires careful consideration of ethical and legal obligations.
  3. Resource Allocation: Nurses may face ethical dilemmas related to resource allocation, particularly in settings with limited resources. Decisions about how to allocate scarce resources such as medications, equipment, or staff time may raise concerns about fairness, equity, and the best use of available resources.
  4. End-of-Life Care: Nurses often encounter ethical dilemmas in end-of-life care, such as decisions about withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, managing pain and symptom control, and honoring patient preferences for end-of-life care. Nurses must navigate complex ethical and legal considerations while providing compassionate care to patients and their families.
  5. Cultural and Religious Beliefs: Nurses may encounter ethical dilemmas related to cultural or religious beliefs that conflict with standard medical practices or institutional policies. Respect for patient diversity and cultural competence are essential in addressing these dilemmas while ensuring that patient preferences and beliefs are honored.
  6. Professional Integrity: Nurses may face ethical dilemmas that challenge their professional integrity, such as pressure to engage in unethical behavior or violations of nursing standards and codes of ethics. Upholding professional values, ethical principles, and moral courage is essential in maintaining the trust and integrity of the nursing profession.

Addressing ethical dilemmas in nursing requires critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and effective communication skills. Nurses must engage in ethical decision-making processes, consult with interdisciplinary team members, seek guidance from ethical committees or institutional policies, and prioritize the best interests of patients while upholding ethical principles and professional standards.


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