Ethical Dilemmas in Health Care – Medical Ethics Example

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"Ethical Dilemmas in Health Care" is a brilliant example of a paper on medical ethics. Ethical dilemmas in health care are bound to occur in the nursing practice as they are faced by various situations that will require the nurse to act ethically so as to uphold the integrity and adhere to the ANA code of ethics. According to the ANA code of ethics, the relationship of nurses to patients is one important principle in the nursing code of ethics. A nurse should deliver services with respect to individual rights and worth and issues such as their Social status, individual attributes, or the nature of their illness.

(Janie and Rich75). However, nurses should consider individuals' lifestyle value systems and religious beliefs of the patients. In my neighborhood, there was this 7-year-old boy who had one complication after another since he was born, and as the only nurse in the neighborhood, I attended to him whenever I was alerted of his condition.   At the age of 3, he had first had an infection and his eyes appeared yellow and the boy was generally pale.

One morning I was called to go check upon him, his condition was fatal, so I advised him to be taken to where I work. I called for an ambulance and hastily took him to the hospital where he was taken in. He had infections all over the body, labored breath, leg sores, and ulcers and I diagnosed him with a genetic disease, sickle-cell anemia. His condition kept deteriorating by the day and so he had to be put in the intensive care unit. His state got worse each day and despite how much we tried to restore the boy to normal health, it was evident that he would not recover from the disease as it had progressed to a level where no cure was available.

This left me and my fellow colleagues an ethical dilemma on whether to administer euthanasia instead of making the young boy suffer and an increase in the costs. We held a briefing and decided to advise the parents on removing the intensive care unit apparatus on him to hasten his death. The nature of the health problems highlighted as one of the codes of ethics affirms that a nurse should respect human dignity irrespective of the patient’ s nature of health problems.

A nurse should provide intervention to relieve pain and symptoms in dying patients even though those involvements may hasten the patient’ s death. The nurse promotes, advocates for, and makes every effort to protect the patient’ s physical condition, wellbeing, and the rights of patients through privacy and confidentiality. (Janie and Rich115).   It is also the nurse’ s duty to respect human dignity, but in this case, despite how much we wanted to save the young boy's life, death was inevitable.

I took the initiative of having the consent of the parents, called them, sat them down, and explained to them everything about the life of their child. They were devastated by the news but I took them slowly through it and made them understand the need for removing the life-supporting gadgets. I took it on myself to counsel the mother who was devastated by the news and after two days of continuous negotiations with them, they agreed we perform euthanasia, which we did.

As a nurse, I applied the ANA code of ethics by ensuring that the parents learned of the situation their son was and left the decision to decide on the way forward as the child was not in a position to give a go-ahead. I made a follow-up on the condition of the parents and with time they were over the incident and they have forever been thankful for how I maintained integrity in my practice.          


Janie Butts and Rich Karen. Nursing Ethics: Across the Curriculum and Into Practice. Jones & Bartlett

Publishers, 2012.

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