Who’s your go-to for ethics questions?
From treatment decisions to end-of-life care, ethics dilemmas can be difficult to work through, as the issues are often not black and white. Nurses were asked who they turn to for guidance or advice on these issues. Here’s how they responded.
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Follow the chain of command. It includes ethics and legal advice within hospital structure. For your own protection always go through the hospital’s ethics and legal departments. I carefully document all conversations. Without this, you jeopardize your license. If you have concerns, you can ask to be removed from the care of that individual.
– Lynda Bruce
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If it is a hospice patient, you just know. All others, turn to your nursing peers and the gut feeling God gives you.
– Glenda Norman Hudson
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First, I consider the ANA Nursing Code of Ethics, and consider what I know to be the truth. Then, I seek a discussion with my hospital chaplain and a member of our ethics committee to help me see things clearly.
– Johanna Mancuso
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Aside from hospital structure, we turn to each other.
– Sally Williford
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Remember you ultimately are the advocate for the patient and whatever it takes to make the right and safe decision is what must be done. Be the example of the nurse you want everyone to be.
– Debbie Hellinger
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My gut instinct is to follow the right path.
– Debbie Fitzpatrick
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I pray about it first. Then I speak with family and friends who are in the medical profession or co-workers I am close with and whose opinions and advice I value.
– Libby Amos
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Nurses often talk to each other … and then the chief nurse … finding solutions!!
– Patty Bock
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Speak with co-workers whom you love and trust.
– Shannon Pettis Nichols
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My most trusted peers and fellow nurses. Who else works with these kind of difficult situations more? Pow wow with other nurses.
– Sandra Salyers
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I am a clinical medical ethicist and often provide on-site, on-unit discussions on a regular basis in the hospital for multidisciplinary staff to discuss together the ethical issues they encounter at the bedside before they become dilemmas.
– Camille M. Renella
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We have an ethics committee to turn to, and there is someone on call 24/7.
– John Hood
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As a new nurse, I would ask others their opinion. As my knowledge and skills advanced, I simply refused to do anything I felt was unethical and left it in the doctors’ hands. It works.
– Raymond Broyles McCormick
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A very wise former instructor that is a bit more objective than I, one who is not mired in the moment.
– Rosemary Thomas
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The charge nurse and seasoned co-workers.
– Allison Steinly
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Just my gut. It’s usually right.
– Marie Szczesny
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Helm an ethics team
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RNs can successfully lead interprofessional ethics committees with the right tools.
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Address your moral distress
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When the end of life is near
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Call out unsafe practices
Speaking out if a colleague is not operating by ethical standards can be intimidating, but is necessary.
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8 key assumptions
Nurse leaders draft a blueprint for a healthcare culture that is more supportive of nursing ethics.
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Who's your go-to person?
RNs share whom they turn to for support when faced with an ethical dilemma at work.
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How to make ethical decisions
What a patient wants should be of paramount importance when a decision needs to be made.
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Make every day count
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Know the code
Being familiar with the Code of Ethics can help nurses prepare for tough ethical dilemmas that are bound to happen.
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Choose your words wisely
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Live by the code
Base your practice on strong moral principles.
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Are you an ethics champion?
Operate within three core responsibilities to make a critical difference in patients’ lives.
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Keep it confidential
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Protect whistleblowers
The ANA Code of Ethics says nurses have a responsibility to assist whistleblowers.
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A beautiful death
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