June 12, 2024
Seven Ethical Considerations For Nurses In Patient Care

Patients place their trust and wellbeing in the hands of healthcare providers. As such, ethical considerations are paramount in ensuring patient safety and satisfaction.

As a nurse, you know that ethical considerations are at the forefront of patient care. Nurses are responsible for ensuring that ethical guidelines are adhered to and providing the best patient care.

Nurses must understand their ethical obligations to provide the best care possible for their patients. By understanding ethics, nurses can ensure that they provide their patients with the highest standard of care.

Professionalism

From tending to their patients’ medical needs to interacting with family and visitors, nurses must always strive to act professionally and courteously.

It is essential to ensure that we maintain a professional demeanor even when dealing with the most challenging situations. Doing so will allow us to make better decisions and create a positive, reassuring environment for the patient.

When working in teams, nurses should remain aware of the professional expectations established by the hospital or healthcare facility.

If you want to do more, and maximise what you can offer to the industry, Baylor University’s PD for APRNS blog offers tips for existing registered nurses who are looking to take their knowledge and training to the next level, and are aspiring to become the best version of themselves. Baylor also offer a number of online courses for both those looking to kickstart a career in healthcare and those looking to add more advanced qualifications to their resumé.

Student candidates and working APRNs can add to their skillset and body of knowledge by joining professional organizations, working with mentors or even listening to podcasts.

Confidentiality

Nurses have a professional responsibility to protect the confidentiality of their patients. This means that they should not reveal any information about a patient’s health or treatment without explicit permission from the patient or their legal representative.

Confidentiality is paramount when dealing with sensitive information such as HIV status or mental health diagnoses. Nurses must maintain patient privacy in all aspects of their care, including conversations, records and data sharing.

They must also ensure that any third parties involved in a patient’s care know the need for confidentiality. Furthermore, nurses should only access and use patient information for the purpose for which it was initially intended. Any breach of confidentiality may result in legal action.

Autonomy

Autonomy, an individual’s capacity to make independent choices and decisions, is essential for nurses to consider when providing care. Giving patients the ability to have a say in their treatment plans, rather than the healthcare provider having sole decision-making power, provides a greater sense of control for the patient.

It’s not about the nurse deciding for the patient, but instead collaborating and engaging the patient in decision-making. By respecting patient autonomy and promoting patient choice, nurses show the patient that they are essential and that their thoughts and feelings are appreciated.

Furthermore, autonomy is a great way to build a trusting relationship between the nurse and patient, allowing for more outstanding care and understanding.

Equity

In a world of inequalities and disparities in healthcare, the importance of equity in patient care cannot be overstated. Every nurse is ethically obligated to be mindful of socioeconomic class, gender, race, culture and ethnicity. These areas can profoundly affect how patients are treated and their quality of life.

It is vital that nurses not only understand these inequities but also be actively involved in combating them. We must look for opportunities to challenge institutionalized racism and sexism and create a culture of equity.

Every patient deserves to receive the best quality of care possible, and no one should be denied this because of any inequities. We must recognize that patient care is more than just medical treatment and ensure that we actively advocate for and promote equity in all aspects of our work.

Informed Consent

At the most basic level, informed consent involves obtaining a written or verbal agreement from patients to consent to the recommended course of action. This helps ensure that we honor our patients’ rights to make medical decisions and gives them control over the outcomes.

It also means that we provide all the necessary information to our patients to ensure that they understand the potential risks, benefits and other outcomes associated with their healthcare treatment.

Regarding patient care, informed consent also requires that we provide accurate, up-to-date information about the diagnosis and recommended course of treatment.

This means that we must keep ourselves educated on any recent changes in technology or treatments to share these with our patients wholly and accurately.

Just Allocation of Resources

As a nurse, understanding the underlying principles of social justice and putting those principles into practice is essential. Every nurse should strive to ensure that their allocation of resources is fair and equitable for each patient, regardless of age, race, religion, and more.

It’s not only about fairness, but also about advocating for vulnerable populations and utilizing limited resources effectively. All nurses should know what is available to them and any relevant regulations to use these resources best.

It may involve taking the time to evaluate resources and figure out how they can be allocated fairly and efficiently or educating on the availability of resources.

No matter the situation, nurses should never forget the importance of being ethically conscious in the decision-making process when it comes to allocating resources for patient care.

Dignity

Caring for patients with dignity comforts them and reduces their sense of isolation. Demonstrating respect for their personhood can be done through simple actions such as respecting privacy, showing kindness and empathy, respecting religious or cultural beliefs, and using patient-friendly language.

This fosters an environment of trust, wherein patients are comfortable speaking freely and not holding back any details. By valuing patient dignity and understanding the unique importance of each individual, nurses can build relationships and make a real difference to those they care for.

Final Thoughts

The importance of ethical considerations for nurses is becoming more widely acknowledged. Nurses are responsible for prioritizing their patients’ best interests and equitably providing care that’s free of bias or discrimination.

They should maintain their professional boundaries and strive to create a caring and therapeutic environment. By prioritizing ethical considerations, nurses can be instrumental in improving patient outcomes and promoting the highest standard of patient care.