Any medical professional faces numerous ethical dilemmas in the course of their career. Although nurses are obliged to follow the code of ethics when resolving such issues, it is no secret that they are frequently forced to compromise some ethical values in favor of others (Haahr et al., 2020). I have been in an ethically challenging situation that required me to weigh the pros and cons of every possible option before making a decision.
The experience involved one of my patients and her relatives. The patient comes from a community where it is considered normal for family members to intervene in the medical treatment of a relative because family bonds are vital. The relatives of my patient requested that I call the ARNP to prescribe drugs that they thought would prove helpful to her. They added that these exact pills were used by everyone in their community and that they proved effective. Moreover, the patient herself asked me if I can ask the Doctor to prescribe these pills, even though she was not quite sure if they would help address her condition; she said that she relied fully on her parents’ judgment. However, I was aware that the drugs would not be suitable for treating her – in fact, they might even worsen her condition. Thus, the situation was quite challenging.
The ethical dilemma required me to compromise some of my values. On the one hand, I am supposed to respect the wishes and beliefs of my patients. Cultural competence is, in fact, an essential part of the nursing code of ethics (Isaac et al., 2016). If I had asked the ARNP to prescribe the drugs as requested by the patient’s family, I might have been considered as a culturally competent nurse. On the other hand, I would have put the patient’s health at risk, as it was unknown how the drugs might have affected her. While protecting the patient from potential harm required me not to do what the family wishes, I would have disrespected the family’s traditions. Thus, I had to choose between two options, neither of which was perfect from an ethical perspective.
I chose to prioritize the health of my patient over her family’s beliefs. The nursing code of ethics requires that nurses adhere to the principle of nonmaleficence, which implies avoiding any actions that may cause harm to patients (Gaines, 2021). Upon weighing the pros and cons of every option, I concluded that it was unreasonable to risk the patient’s life just to please her family. I was aware that by doing this, I would break one of the ethical principles and offend the family. Nonetheless, the patient’s health was much more important to me. Hence, I refused to convince the ARNP to prescribe the drugs because I could not put my patient’s health at risk.
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