Ethical Issues in Nursing: Investigating Two Fundamental Topics

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The nursing profession is a very sensitive profession especially based on the understanding that it involves delivery of care. It is a common understanding that nursing profession is more fulfilling. However, the nursing practice has significant ethical challenges, which are detrimental to nursing care practice. The nursing ethical principles have been effectively developed to streamline the nursing working environment where they can be able to concentrate on delivery of quality healthcare in their respective field of practice. The international council of Nurses code of ethics is very clear in providing a greater focus on key ethical aspects that provide a key focus and engagement within nursing practice. The code of ethics highlights that in addition to the key responsibilities of promoting health and ease suffering respect for human rights form the foundation of nursing practice. Autonomy and beneficence are key ethical issues in nursing practice, which guide the nursing practice. Beneficence is an ethical principle, which asserts that the actions by a nursing practitioner must be able to promote good. Autonomy in nursing involves having the authority and freedom to make decisions. Patients have the autonomy to make decisions pertaining their medical situation. Autonomy and beneficence are critical ethical principles, which ensure that the healthcare environment is well engaged, and there is an understanding between a patient and nursing care provider. Beneficence focuses on ensuring that the nursing care providers focus on improving the health conditions of patients by incorporating important medical strategies that are effective while considering the fact that the patient have the right to accept or refuse the type of treatment suggested based on their own personal beliefs or understanding. This paper provides a literature review on autonomy and beneficence as ethical issues in nursing.


Ethical issues in nursing practice provide a key understanding under which better decisions can be made. Autonomy and beneficence are key ethical issues in nursing practice they focus on the overall conduct of nurses and the interaction with patients. Nurses are required to prescribe medication, but the patients have the right to refuse them (Schor, 2014). Nurses, therefore, need to understand the different patient background to have an understanding of the Medicare preference. The actions nurses should always focus on promoting the overall good in the delivery of quality care.

Literature review

According to Tobiano (2015), Nurses have diverse views on patient participation in healthcare, which highlights ethical aspects, which have been effectively engaged to ensure that there is quality healthcare delivery. The key ethical elements that have been integrated in healthcare include autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice, form the standard of nursing practice in the western world. The application of each ethical principle is applied differently based on the issue at and although beneficence has a greater influence on the overall ability of a nursing practitioner to provide standard care with the main purpose of promoting good. Doing good and avoiding harm are the main aspects that are developed under the beneficence ethical principle. Autonomy, however, plays a more advanced role, which is considered effectively within the delivery of effective care. The current nursing care environment has placed significant attention to autonomy more than beneficence because beneficence comes into focus after autonomy. The law enforces the autonomy ethical principle through informed consent about the treatment and mode delivery. The authors, therefore, highlight that to be informed revolves around being told about the treatment, its purpose, risks, and benefits that might relate to the treatment suggested. The delivery of care is therefore subject to approval from the patient even though the nursing practitioner might be promoting overall good and mean no harm; the treatment suggested must be adhered to the patient concerns. Both beneficence and autonomy must be effectively practiced to ensure that there is a quality focus on delivery of quality healthcare (Tobiano, 2015).

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Cole, Wellard and Mummery (2014) assert that patient autonomy in chronic care is very crucial and provides a better understanding of quality healthcare delivery. The principle of autonomy has been considered as a key in current bioethics even though there exists contradiction with beneficence under certain situations. The chronic care is mainly focused on preventing long-term complications of a given disease, and this means that the principle of autonomy needs to be forced upon in ensuring that a patient has all the required information regarding a suggested treatment especially the risks and benefits involved. It is, therefore, a duty of nursing care provider to ensure that they comply with the ethical principle of autonomy to ensure that there is quality healthcare delivery. The article highlights that the right of a patient to autonomy is not always possible especially in situations where there are no alternatives (Cole, Wellard & Mummery (2014)

Judkins-Cohn (2013) assert that there are some key values within medical ethics such autonomy, non-maleficence, dignity, confidentiality, honesty, and beneficence, which act as guidelines for professional conduct within a medical environment. The article provides an understanding of the principle of beneficence because it is an obligation of a medical practitioner to always act upon unless it creates conflict on a far greater principle, which overrides beneficence. The delivery of quality care in a healthcare setting is achieved through a critical focus on the nursing practitioner to promote the general good, which is a key guiding ethical aspect in the delivery of quality care. The need to understand the underlying ethical principle of beneficence focuses on the overall need to develop a clear understanding of what needs to be considered. The author provides a better review through a focus on medical care delivery which creates a better focus on what needs to be done to create a more clean and well-managed environment through a focus on the positive understanding in the delivery of care (Judkins-Cohn, 2013).

Comparison and contrast of the journal articles

The articles considered in this case have been obtained from three different nursing journals which provide a significant focus on the underlying elements within the practice of healthcare. It is important to ensure that better measures are put in place to improve quality of healthcare. The articles have effectively highlighted the significant role played by autonomy and beneficence in improving the quality of care although there is a differing understanding among nurses regarding patient involvement in care delivery.

The articles have provided a greater understanding on the fact that patient autonomy is a serious healthcare ethical issue, which needs to be implemented properly in improving the quality of healthcare and patient satisfaction. The patient autonomy is crucial in the sense that a patient must be able to clearly asses the medical treatment provided in order to make a decision on whether to accept or refuse. The decision that is made in this case focuses on providing a significant understanding on quality care regardless of the nurse practitioner beneficence, which is the underlying principle, which guide nursing practice to emphasis on the general good. Even though a nurse practitioner must clearly shows the need to promote general good of the patient for effective and quality healthcare.

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