A Patient’s Consent, Autonomy and Beneficence

Topic: Nursing
Words: 896 Pages: 3


Nursing has historically been considered a highly challenging and honorable job. Nurses are expected to maintain a high level of professionalism despite the demanding working environment and a degree of anxiety that is deemed to be insurmountable in many other spheres. These medical workers are expected to be driven by compassion and determination to provide the best possible treatment for a patient. Moreover, there are numerous issues that may undermine the efforts of nurses to provide services duly.

In most cases, they occur when various values collide, leaving nurses to decide on the best solution. Such a lack of clarification of the required actions in certain instances can diminish the quality of service provided and the nurses’ motivation to take responsibility and search for the most efficient options for each patient. The necessity to obtain a patient’s consent in cases that require immediate surgery or special treatment represents the contradiction between autonomy and beneficence.


Numerous imbalances and gaps that exist in nursing are generally referred to as legal or ethical issues. Such dilemmas are universally prevalent and are to be addressed globally to ensure the protection of patients and nurses (Rainer et al., 2018). The contradiction of autonomy and beneficence in particular cases is one of the most widespread problems that nurses have to address frequently. Autonomy means that patients have the right to make decisions based on their values and beliefs. Beneficence stands for kindness and charity, which requires nurses’ actions to benefit others. A dedicated analysis is needed that takes into consideration all the aspects that may hinder the chances of determining the most efficient solution.

Nurses are required to stick to the treatment plan and ensure that a patient gets the prescribed medicine. At the same time, all medical workers are expected to respect patients’ autonomy, meaning that they have to obtain consent before proceeding to the crucial part of the treatment process. The number of instructions that can guide nurses under such circumstances and clarify the boundaries between the two significant values is insufficient. Therefore, nurses are to experience extra anxiety by taking the responsibility of insisting on specific measures, as patients that need urgent help sometimes do not accept the offered treatment. The situation can become highly controversial, especially when surgery needs to be performed immediately in order to save a patient’s life.


At the same time, due to a wide range of reasons, patients are often determined to reject the treatment. According to Muskens et al. (2019), the time available for clinical decision-making is often limited, which may lead to ethical implications, as the informed consent process may become compromised. The situation can be further worsened once the number of people expressing their opinion at the hospital increases. It frequently happens, for instance, when an older patient is accompanied by a large number of family members. In this case, a nurse often has to confront several people who may behave inappropriately while advocating for a solution that can lead to their relative’s death.

A broad spectrum of other factors substantially diminishes the chances of a patient (his relatives) accepting the proposed treatment plans. Such cases tend to include the notion of a research project and an application of an innovative procedure, among others. Thus, patients may be discouraged from being a part of something they often perceive as an unreliable experiment. Nurses should take into consideration that patients’ emotions can significantly diminish the quality of service they can provide. Sometimes it may seem almost impossible to convince certain people to undergo treatment.


Numerous patients that have developed a conservative stance on the efficiency of modern medicine are hospitalized every day. According to Emtman and Strauss (2019), clinicians caring for an increased number of older patients should be ready to strike a reasonable balance between clinical guidance and patient autonomy. Therefore, nurses should be trained to cope with older adults, who represent a large percentage of every hospital’s total number of clients and who need to be assisted immediately more often than other types of patients. Despite patients’ vivid unwillingness to take action to improve their health and even safe life, nurses are expected to utilize a plethora of soft skills to eventually convince the patient to agree with doctors.

Communication Quality

Moreover, nurses are expected to provide all the information in a precise and polite manner. This can be a complex undertaking in cases where a patient needs to undergo surgery or take particular medicine immediately. According to Clark (2019), ethical, legal, and educational implications should be considered in order to promote a culture of respect and civility in healthcare. Therefore, nurses’ training and educational programs should feature structured courses on the above-mentioned phenomena, which can help them make weighted decisions in future work.


Numerous legal issues and ethical dilemmas continue to further complicate nurses’ efforts to perform their duties accordingly. Despite the multiple gaps in legislation and nurses’ guidelines, they are expected to show the ability to implement ingenious solutions by focusing on beneficence while honoring patients’ autonomy. Therefore, nurses’ activities can be considered a type of art, as they imply a high level of responsibility for developing and establishing custom-tailored frameworks that seek to eliminate information gaps and prejudices. The frequently occurring contradictions between autonomy and beneficence represent a complex issue addressed more efficiently by nurses’ professionalism than by various types of regulation.


Clark, C. M. (2019). Fostering a culture of civility and respect in nursing. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 10(1), 44–52. Web.

Emtman, R., & Strauss, J. (2019). Aging: Balancing autonomy and beneficence. In Psychiatric ethics in late-life patients (pp. 3–20). Springer. Web.

Muskens, I. S., Gupta, S., Robertson, F. C., Moojen, W. A., Kolias, A. G., Peul, W. C., & Broekman, M. L. (2019). When time is critical, is informed consent less so? A discussion of patient autonomy in emergency neurosurgery. World Neurosurgery, 125(5), e336-e340. Web.

Rainer, J., Schneider, J. K., & Lorenz, R. A. (2018). Ethical dilemmas in nursing: An integrative review. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(19-20), 3446–3461. Web.

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