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Moral, Ethical & Legal Issues: Caring for the Mentally Ill Patient

The nursing profession is an ever-changing profession that has a responsibility of responding to complex and many different issues concerning protecting a patient by ensuring they are safe, human rights, as well as maintaining their dignity. Professional nurses should work as advocates of the patients without regard of the setting the nurses are working in.

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Nurses while practicing their profession, face ethical decisions that affect them in their profession both in their profession and at personal levels. American Nurses Association (ANA) has a code of ethics that are used in the regulation of the nursing profession; every registered nurse is bound by the code of ethic set. Patients who are mentally ill should be treated like other patients according to the ANA ethical code (Bucky et al., 2009).

Mentally ill people have historically been assumed to be a threat to others, rather than people who need to be supported and cared for. Taking care for individuals who are mentally ill is an issue that is ethically challenging and requires ethical commitment (Humber & Almeder, 2002). The ethical challenges are due to the behaviors exhibited by the mentally ill patients. Cases of mental illness work to influence peoples system of belief, perception, and motivation.

Mental illness may hamper the ability of an individual to effectively talk, organize their thoughts, and determine their preferences. Mental illness my additional interfere with an individual’s appetite, self-knowledge, love, and making an important contribution to the society among others. These qualities make it difficult for an individual to take care of a mentally ill patient.

Today, advancement in psychiatric therapy has enabled patients who are mentally ill to be taken care of like other patients. Effective medication can have positive results as the patients can be fully healed or can lead to improvement in the quality of life of the patient (Bucky et al. 2009). Nurses and doctors have the same responsibility to the mentally ill patients as they do for other patients. Nurses should not discriminate against the mentally ill patients and should not subject them to any stigma, as this will discourage others who require psychiatric help (Humber & Almeder, 2002).

The relationship established by the mentally ill patient and health care provider such as a nurse should be based on mutual trust. The patient should be informed of the condition, the procedure for therapy including the possible risks and the results that are expected from the therapy. In case there is existence of lack of legally adjudicated incompetence, the patient should be treated as though he or she is legally competent (Humber & Almeder, 2002).

The views of the patient should be respected if the patient has a capability of making a decision, unless the patient poses serious risk to himself or herself. A mentally ill patient who cannot exercise their autonomy need to be treated like other patients and need for surrogate consent.

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Mentally ill patients also deserve confidentiality from the nurses and other physicians, unless it is required by law for the physician to disclose certain material about the patient upon request by the necessary authorities (Bucky et al., 2009). They should not use their position as nurses to take advantage of the patient but should work towards preserving the dignity of the patient. A nurse should ensure they treat patients who are mentally ill as other patients. The society including the medical profession must be accommodative of individuals who are mentally ill and are provided with care and support by the healthcare system.

References

Bucky, S. et al. (2009). Ethical and legal issues for mental health professionals: in forensic settings. New York: Routledge.

Humber, J. & Almeder, R. (2002). Mental illness and public health care. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.

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StudyCorgi. "Moral, Ethical & Legal Issues: Caring for the Mentally Ill Patient." April 14, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/moral-ethical-and-amp-legal-issues-caring-for-the-mentally-ill-patient/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Moral, Ethical & Legal Issues: Caring for the Mentally Ill Patient." April 14, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/moral-ethical-and-amp-legal-issues-caring-for-the-mentally-ill-patient/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Moral, Ethical & Legal Issues: Caring for the Mentally Ill Patient'. 14 April.

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