The Need for an Ethical Course for Nurses is rooted in recent developments and is a result of the Supreme Court’s 7 landmark cases. The first case was cited in a case that centered around a man who was chemically castrated. This man brought suit against his doctor, arguing that the procedure was painful and caused him to have chronic health problems thereafter. The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the doctors, ruling that the woman had not suffered any injury or loss as a result of the doctors’ actions. The doctors could not be held personally liable for what happened.
The second case involved a young female nurse who became pregnant after having an abortion without the permission of her doctor. Despite having this abortion, the court declined to rule in favor of the nurse, stating that abortion is a medical issue, and is not within the purview of the medical profession. The third case involved a male nurse who sexually abused a patient, causing the victim to develop mental health problems as a result. Again, the court declined to rule in favor of the victim, again stating that medical issues were not involved in this matter.
It is important for nurses to recognize and understand the different situations that can arise in their professional lives. In order to help them solve ethical dilemmas, they should be educated in how to become an informed consumer. The four areas of ethics that they will need to learn about are: corporate social responsibility, healthcare ethics, patient care standards, and legal issues involving nurses.
Corporate social responsibility refers to how a company relates to its employees, their families, the community, and the environment. The organization must determine how it will make its decisions based on its values. A nurse showed how she believed that a decision to place a nurse on paid review due to conflicts of interest may have been based on a fiduciary responsibility. She said that this means the board did not act in the best interest of the individual, but rather in the interest of the company. This case illustrates the importance of nursing law, which is how courts evaluate cases involving nurses and their testimony presented during trials.
Healthcare ethics and legal case studies to teach students about the legalities involved when doctors testify in a trial regarding their actions and treatment of patients. For example, a nurse was questioned regarding a patient who died from a heart attack. The nurse claimed that the patient was admitted safely to the hospital before he died, although he later died at home. The court found that this testimony presented a conflict of interest and ordered the evidence to be destroyed. This story tells the importance of nursing law, which examines the effect of any given situation on a patient’s rights and what the standard of care is for a particular situation.
The fourth area of ethics and legal case studies is about healthcare professional boundaries. Nurses work in a unique environment, one that pushes and pulls them to act in ways that benefit the company and its bottom line, and some situations present ethical dilemmas that require professional boundaries to be drawn. An example would be a physician who prescribes the wrong dosage for a medication or fails to accurately measure vital signs. Other examples include sexual harassment or inappropriate interaction with patients.
The fifth and final area of study deals with the specific laws governing medical malpractice cases involving nurses. In most states, medical malpractice law is designed to protect against negligence, whereas in others it requires only that a reasonable person might believe that a mistake has been made. In other words, in order for a claim to be valid, it must have some sort of subjective element. In many instances, nurses are not given this element of subjective belief; therefore, they are often able to pursue lawsuits based on what another doctor may consider to be an unreasonable fear. An important component of this requirement is the requirement that a reasonable person could assume that the harm occurred, and in order for the harm to have been reasonably avoidable, there needs to have been knowledge or even reasonable belief that harm was likely to occur.
The course will also cover specific situations that involve nurses, such as substance abuse, which can easily be confused with nursing malpractice, which is often more legally complex. Additionally, there are specific ethical dilemmas that arise in health care settings, such as the inappropriate treatment of children. Finally, ethics courses for nurses will also touch on situations that involve the relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient. This includes issues such as the professional’s conflict of interest, whether the nurse has a conflict of interest in pursuing a case, whether the nurse can impartially handle the case because of their relationship with the patient, whether the nurse has taken advantage of the patient’s trust, etc.