The nurses’ career is faced with both legal and ethical issues. One of the codes of conduct of the nurse says that the nurse should integrate the knowledge of ethics and legal aspects into the values of the profession (NMC, 2008). It is important the nurses should be aware that they will face problems in their career, but the knowledge on how to deal with it is important. Also, the nurses should be aware of malpractice and the possible ways to protect themselves from a malpractice suit (Catalano, 1996).
Laws are regulations written by the governing power while ethics are cultural morals and most times they inform the laws that are made (ref). However, in the course of this essay, ethical principles, main legal and ethical duties will be explored and discussed. The differences between these terms ‘law’ and ‘ethics’ must first be understood. Most times, ethics are not punishable unlike Law; it is punishable by the authority. No real patients name will be used in this essay, only pseudonym
This case study will be analysed using the ethical principles (Beauchamp and Childress, 2001). Mr. White (not real name) is a 70yr old patient who has been quite healthy all through his life besides some issues with pneumonia in the previous years. He was driving along the road when he hit a patch of black ice, deviated off the road, and collided into a tree. He was unconscious and had minor abrasions to his arms, legs, and face. When he recovered, he indicated he was very cold, numb, and tired as several paramedics hovered over him placing a collar around his neck and a spinal board underneath him. He was very confused and was told to not move as they oriented him to person, place, and time. He was transferred to the emergency room where he was placed on oxygen via face mask and normal saline 100ml/hour was in-situ. He was later transferred to the Intensive Care Unit after it was discovered that he had lung complications and a tracheotomy was put in to exposed his airways and permit for oxygen exchange. His family has been at the hospital providing supporting to him each day and praying he recovers from this severe accident.
While caring for him, the nurse reviewed his medical history and noticed that he is a-do-not resuscitate patient and that he does not want to accept any life supporting treatments that will lengthen his life. The patient has been wide-awake, alert, and oriented and confirmed competent some days ago, which permits him to make choices for himself. His daughter, Mrs. Black (not real name), told the nurse that she doesn’t know what she would do without her dad because he is the rock that holds their family together. The rest of the family answered back that these were his wishes and they will have to agree to his request, even though it pains them to think they may lose him soon. A routine test was done a few days ago and the doctor noticed that his lab result were not within regular limit and advised for chest x-ray to know the problem. The chest x-ray confirmed he had pneumonia, but also shown that he was suffering from metastatic lung cancer. The nurse was informed of the cancer by the doctor and he stated that Mr. White was still weak and fighting for his life, the news was communicated to his family, both the doctor and the family members agreed to give him the information when he is stable and strong enough to take the news.
The nurse was informed of the confirmation that the patient indeed was suffering from cancer secondary to his car accident and pneumonia. Does she advocate for the patient’s right to autonomy in delivering the news to him and his family or does she follow the doctor’s orders and withhold the news since the physician believes that telling him will only worsen his condition and result in a loss of hope for all involved? The nurse believes that withholding information is going against the patient’s rights to make his own decisions. The nurse wants to do what is best for the patient and