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Ethical Issues in Nursing Practice

Nurses are the first line of defense in the healthcare sector, patients’ advocates, and also a source of information on medical diagnosis and the course of care for relatives and the families of the sick. In some situations, decision-making requires principled considerations, and this requires nurses to know about delivering care in an ethical manner (Pozgar, 2019). This essay is an empirical review of the nurse’s experiences in the hospital, which identifies the common issues that nurses encounter and how they solve them, thus improves awareness of the ethical problems.

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Advanced technology in critically ill patients’ care promotes recovery, improves the quality of life, and extends their lifespan. However, as much as the developments bring benefits, they also raise ethical and moral issues such as respect for the patient’s autonomy, increased medical cost, end-of-life decisions, and quality care. Identification of the problems in the nursing practice is critical (Park, 2009). It is because nurses are mostly faced with struggling families and relatives’ problems in making some of these difficult situations. Their moral standards call for them to confront the virtuous matters that affect them.


The study reviewed the quantitative analyses of the hospital-based nurse’s experiences with the ethical dilemmas. It included primary research published in English between 1999 and 2007, where the search was done in MEDLINE, CINAHL databases, and the keywords used were nursing ethics, issue, and problem. The study was limited to hospital-based investigation in the United States. One article that collected data from the directors of nursing was included.

The analysis classified the ethical issues into three categories, human rights concerns, end-of-life decisions, and patient care matters. The moral scale had three classes that represented the mentioned three subjects. End-of-life decisions had 13 cases that involved death and the dying process. 14 out of the questions were about the kind of healthcare services these patients receive. The human rights category described the rights of the patients, family, nurse and they were five topics.

Results and Discussion

The study involved the top five ethical issues encountered by the nurses. The frequent concerns were patient care and human rights. The problematic issues were related to end-of-life decisions; the recurring matters included staffing patterns, giving care when the nurse is at risk, protecting human rights and dignity, allocating resources, and conflict between nurse doctor relationships. Their frequency was not of interest and therefore was not observed.

The challenging topics included prolonging the dying process, acting against own personal and impaired colleagues, staffing patterns, and abuse of children and the elderly. The caregivers also reported frequent issues with patient privacy and confidentiality (Park, 2009). The frequency of the problems differed depending on the specialty, and the finding indicated that more resources had to be allocated in high-frequency areas. Results showed that nurses used their values in dealing with concerns that were not as per their professional ethics.

Recommendations and Limitations

Qualified nurses should be taught about ethical education to avoid losing their moral values. Nursing education should develop an ethics program to teach the caregivers integrity and how to solve disputes. Moral values educators need to explain the ethics code to the nurses and the principles to act as a guide during the moral dilemma (Butts & Rich, 2016). The study did not include several specialties because they were not interested in frequency. There is a limitation of information in all other things except the operating room. Further research should be done regarding the frequency of the ethical issues in the hospital.

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Essay Prompt

The essay prompt identifies a primary area of legal and ethical implications faced by the oncology nurses in the study and strategies they have developed to meet the issues. Oncology nurses face problems such as lack of informed consent during the diagnostics and therapeutic procedures, an extension of life without quality concerns, and questionable professional practices (Park, 2009). The prevalence of ethical concerns provides details about the particular moral considerations that clinicians in professional practice endure. As a result, the knowledge can be used to raise awareness of the problems in clinical and educational settings.


Butts, J. P., & Rich, L. K. (2016). Nursing ethics: Across the curriculum and into practice (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Park, M. (2009). Ethical issues in nursing practice. Journal of Nursing Law, 13(3), 68-77.

Pozgar, G. D. (2019). Legal and ethical issues for health professionals. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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