The two challenges faced regularly by nurses are ethical dilemma and challenging misinformation. I chose to answer questions surrounding ethical issue (Q1) and responding to misinformation on vaccines (Q3). I have specified an example of an ethical issue I encountered, and how my situation can be seen in the ethical terms of beneficence, non-maleficence and autonomy. Followed by, my response to a mother refusing vaccine because of risk of autism.
When I was practicing as a home visit nurse for post-natal mothers, I encountered an ethical issue. A post-natal mother after delivery was discharged home and based on my assessment and information gathering I found that she was not taking any of her prescribed medication including antibiotics. On further exploration it was revealed that the mothers cultural practice prohibited her from taking any medications for the first month after delivery. As a home health nurse, I was educated and emphasized the importance of taking the post-delivery medication. The mother accepted few options suggested by me, but was not completely acknowledging my health teaching due to her personal cultural beliefs.
Beneficence is a moral principle of doing good. In the context of beneficence, I tried to maximize benefits and minimize risks. Through education and highlighting the importance of medication, I tried to minimize risks and maximize benefits. At the same time, I had to uphold the principle of autonomy by upholding the patients’ final choice.
Non-maleficence is the principle of not harming people. In the context of non-maleficence, I did not cause any physical, psychological or moral harm to the patient. The importance of taking the medication and the consequences of not taking medications were explained to the patient, thus giving her the knowledge needed to make decision (including right to refuse). However, insisting that the medication should be taken might have made the patient feel bad morally.
With regard to the principle of autonomy, it was a bit complex. I had to respect the mother’s autonomy, even if it is contrary to what is best for the mother and child from medical stand point. However, I provided pertinent information to make decision and respected her decision not to follow some on my instructions.
Overall, when a patient does not take prescribed medication and as a nurse you insist on the importance of taking medication there is an ethical dilemma of how to deal with it. Ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, moral distress, justice, preventative ethics, trust and veracity helps to provide health teaching to promote patient well-being and at the same time respecting the individual choices. Nurses encounter ethical issues every day in many different forms, knowing the principles of ethics will help to navigate in appropriate decision