What is a nurse’s primary ethical responsibility?

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What is a nurse’s primary ethical responsibility?

This is easy: the best-interest of patients. Whether that is increased comfort, decreased anxiety, improved health, or the alleviation of suffering the nurse’s primary ethical responsibility is the same. Well, except for nurses in administration but for right now I’m talking about practicing nurses.

Do you believe that ethical behavior should not be affected by outside considerations? Why or why not?

This is harder and where the rubber meets the road. I have been a primary care physcian for 20 years and know this area not only separates the professional from the amateur but also the ethical practitioner from the practical.

Let me give you several scenarios (all real) and some of the consequences of acting ethically. By the way, I am not denigrating those who are more practical in their ethics. One ethical system, utilitarianism, says the right (or ethical) action to take is the one that results in the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. So, most of the time, the patient’s needs align with this ethical system but sometimes does not.

1. A 15-year old boy is brought to the ER by ambulance. He was drinking, passed out in the bathroom at a high school dance, and hit his head on the sink. When he arrives in the ER, the physician on duty says to you (the practicing nurse in all of these scenarios) “this guy is nothing but trouble. Get him out of my ER as soon as …

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