Ethical Issues in Nursing: Selecting Treatment Options

Topic: Nursing
Words: 619 Pages: 2

The nursing profession is sensitive, and it requires one to abide by the ethical principles to be successful. Nurses are accountable to society, their profession, employers, healthcare consumers, clients, or patients. Concerning Mr. Cole’s case, the nurse’s role is to help the patient and their families understand the consequences of their preferences regarding the course of treatment. The patient’s family seems to be determined to have him at home no matter what. However, the nurse should chart the patient’s medical condition’s worsening and report it to the doctor, even though the family begs her not to. It would be unfortunate if the doctor discovers that the nurse was a part of the patient’s family’s ploy to force the discharge by not reporting the incident. Therefore, the nurse has to ensure that the patient undergoes all the necessary medical procedures and is allowed to go home after attaining a stable condition.

Although nurses serve as patients’ advocates, patients have a right to choose their medical treatment course. Regarding the issue of informed consent, it is the duty of the doctor to inform the patient of the available reasonable options (Cave, 2019). The medical treatment option needs to conform to the patient’s goals, and if none of them befits this criterion, the patient has a right to refuse all of them. Even after choosing their preferred medical option, patients do not have a right to direct the physician on how they will be treated (Cave, 2019). It is the duty of the doctor to do the procedure of the preferred option professionally.

In Mr. Cole’s case, his family has a right to choose a medical option for him and make decisions on his behalf. Since they have decided that their family member goes home, the physician needs to respect that decision. This choice impacts what is best for the client and his family because, even if he stays in the hospital, he still has very few days to live. It would be better for him to be discharged to spend some quality time with family and friends, as the family is claiming. Therefore, nurses and physicians need to guide the patients to make an informed decision regarding treatment options.

The ethical principles in play in this scenario are beneficence, veracity, and paternalism. In this case, the nurse needs to make an effort to do good for the patient, and a part of beneficence is to decide whether or not to tell the physician about the patient’s deterioration in the medical state, which may delay his discharge. Moreover, the principle of paternalism is in this scenario since the patient’s family has assumed the role of making decisions on behalf of Mr. Cole. In addition, veracity is applicable in this case since the nurse must tell the truth about the worsening state of Mr. Cole. In this case, regardless of the patient’s family’s hope of Mr. Cole being allowed to go home, the veracity principle dictates that the nurse tells the truth, even though it will delay the patient’s discharge.

The law can apply to the patient, nurse, and organization in many ways. For example, if the nurse decided not to tell the truth about Mr. Cole’s deteriorating medical condition, the patient will be discharged and may die at home earlier than expected. If this happens, the family can sue the physician and the organization for premature discharge causing their patient to die (Rainer et al., 2018). The nurse will also be sued for negligence for failing to chart the incident so the doctor can make an informed decision about the discharge. Therefore, the decision made concerning the discharge of Mr. Cole needs to be per the ethical and legal principles in nursing.


Cave, E. (2019). Selecting treatment options and choosing between them: Delineating patient and professional autonomy in shared decision-making. Health Care Analysis, 28(1), 4-24. 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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