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Family Nurse Practitioner’s Moral & Legal Dilemma

Like any other healthcare professional, a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) often encounters issues that require a thorough assessment from both legal and ethical perspectives. The problem of resource allocation in healthcare is especially severe because of the rising demand and increasing costs. This paper will describe a moral and legal dilemma involving an FNP in the field of administration and will offer recommendations that can be used to resolve the issue.

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Administration Dilemma

The responsibility of an FNP is to work independently or in some cases in collaboration with other healthcare providers to deliver care services to families. In this domain, the issue often is a result of the insufficiency in healthcare needs and resource allocation practices. For instance, the number of patients with chronic conditions in a community where FNP practices can be increased by the current trends of the population.

Therefore, the demand for diagnostics and lifespan guidance that is necessary for this condition can increase. However, an FNP has to be mindful of the resource allocation domain, and the implications of this issue will be examined above. The scenario for the dilemma is an FNP who works independently and sees a demand in the number of new patients.

The problem in question is prevalent to the entire care continuum and affects health providers across the state. According to Dodson, Agadjanian, and Driessen (2017), healthcare resources globally are limited, and competition for them continues to intensify each year. The relevant code of conduct that can be applied by a nurse practitioner is the American Nurses Association (ANA) code of ethics.

Provision 4 states that “the nurse has authority, accountability, and responsibility for nursing practice; makes decisions; and takes action consistent with the obligation to promote health and to provide optimal care” (as cited in Katulka, 2018, para. 5). This relates to the issue in question because as was mentioned in the description of the problem part of the paper, FNP have limited resources and can only help a particular number of people.

Thus, based on the ANA’s ethical guide an FNP can violate the code if he or she is unable to provide optimal quality of care, which also refers to the resources that a patient may need for proper diagnostics. In this regard, it is necessary to mention the issue of burnout, which is, in many cases, a result of a lack of personnel in medical establishments (Khamisa, Oldenburg, Peltzer, & Ilic, 2015). This insufficiency of human resources results in reduced satisfaction rates for both patients and medical professionals. Moreover, it can significantly impair the ability to make adequate judgments. Based on the FNP case, it can be argued that one should not overestimate personal capabilities and ensure that appropriate help is provided to patients.

From a legal perspective, the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA) regulates this aspect of healthcare. Under this law, a system of reporting is established, which helps keep track of adverse events.

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Additionally, for a similar purpose, Congress developed the National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation (MEDiC) Act (“The National Medical Error,” 2005). This legislation is focus primarily on the medical mistakes done due to negligence, and also, it aims to protect patients. In case an FNP fails to allocate resources adequately, which will harm a patient, he or she can take legal action. In case of severe health impairment, a health professional can face criminal responsibility.

The primary recommendation with this type of ethical dilemma is to consider who requires healthcare resources carefully. This involves evaluating the potential benefit, the urgency of a case, and the potential impact on the quality of life. Using this approach, an FNP can determine the patients who require help without creating a safety risk or taking away resources from others. Next, it is vital to understand the implications of the problem and take action that will target the healthcare system in the US in general by advocating for a change in the current policies.

Finally, Daniels (2016) argues that the primary ethical implication of this problem is that “resources expended on one disease or person cannot be spent on another disease or person” (p. 61). Additionally, the question of revenue, which is necessary for any healthcare organization, has to be considered in this regard as well because hospitals have to be profitable to provide services. Therefore, a nurse should be able to access the benefits that treatment will provide to patients to adequately allocate resources and ensure safety.


Overall, while an FNP must provide care to those who need it, the implications of safety and optimal care have to be considered as well. From an ethical perspective, ANA guides nurses to be responsible for their practice. Evidence of burnout and work-related stress also points out the need for being mindful of resource allocation. Based on this evidence, it can be concluded that the increasing healthcare needs of the nation are a system-wide problem, and it requires a state-based intervention. A recommendation for FNPs is to ensure that the number of patients seen a day is adequate and ensures the safety and good health outcomes.


Daniels, N. (2016). Resource allocation and priority setting. In H. Barrett et al. (Eds.), Public health ethics: Cases spanning the globe (pp. 61-94). Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Dodson, Z. M., Agadjanian, V., & Driessen, J. (2017). How to allocate limited healthcare resources: Lessons from the introduction of antiretroviral therapy in rural Mozambique. Applied Geography, 78, 45-54. Web.

Katulka, L. (2018). 5-minute summary: The ANA code of ethics for nurses. Web.

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Khamisa, N., Oldenburg, B., Peltzer, K., & Ilic, D. (2015). Work related stress, burnout, job satisfaction and general health of nurses. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(1), 652-666. Web.

The National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation (MEDiC) Act. (2005). Web.

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