Essay On Ethics In Nursing

The following essay shall discuss the various ethics and code of conduct that are vital in the field of nursing. The entire field of medicine and healthcare needs to abide by various rules and regulations to ensure the proper delivery of services to patients. Execution of medical care correctly is important for the entire healing process (Cheragi et al., 2013). Any minute error in this field can lead to adverse health effects in patients. The key ethical guidelines that nurses and healthcare givers are expected to maintain are treating all patients equally, protecting the privacy rights of patients, and ensuring personal experience does not affect the care being provided to patients (ICN, 2021). All the ethical factors that are related to nursing shall be discussed in detail in this essay with the help of a case study. It shall further include a reflective analysis of the case taken into consideration mentioning how similar situations in the future can be managed and the knowledge and skill required to handle such critical which are common in the field of nursing cases without causing any harm to patients.

Case Study Analysis

The case study is related to a nurse named Ann who has to provide duty in multiple shifts due to the scarcity of nursing staff in the healthcare ward. The case also mentions how she is under a lot of pressure since she has to take care of her disabled son and elderly mother. Hence it is quite natural for her to feel fatigued during her present duty hours. It is also obvious that slight mistakes can happen by her. The case further discusses how she unintentionally administers the wrong medicine to a patient named Bob. Though this error does not cause any harm to Bob, he gets anxious and decides to take legal action against Ann. According to Ann’s colleagues, it would have been wiser not to inform about this mistake to Bob, since informing this only exacerbated his health condition.
The interests of the various stakeholders in the case study are different. The hospital tried to avoid taking the required measures for the lack of enough staff. Rather it forced the remaining staff to work for extra hours which affected their physical and mental health. Though the main mistake is committed by Ann, there is a logical justification for it. She had no negative intentions and she even maintained transparency by discussing the entire matter with Bob. Since the error was harmless and did not affect any individual involved with it, this mistake can be ignored. But it should be ensured that such carelessness does not repeat in the future. Ann’s colleague showed good decision-making ability in the situation. The advice given by the person was in the best interest of both Ann and Bob. Bob was suffering from an anxiety disorder. It is expected that he would suffer from anxiety attacks knowing this incident. Still, he could have tried to understand the entire scenario and accept the fact that no one had any bad intentions. This could have stopped him from taking legal actions against Ann.

Various legal and ethical factors can be observed in the case study. In Australia, the average duty hours of nurses are considered 40 hours per week (Steege et al., 2017). The lack of nurses, less recruitment of health staff, and more number of patients than the staff can manage (especially during pandemics) can often hamper the ethical obligations that nurses need to follow towards their patients. at high work pressure, nurses often get less sleep and proper rest (Stimpfel, Fatehi, & Kovner, 2020). They do not even get time to maintain a proper diet and take care of their health issues. These often lead to poor patient care, unwanted errors, job dissatisfaction, and mental distress. All of these affect the care being provided to patients (Jarrar, et al., 2018). The double duty hours and less time for self-care in the case of Ann go against the Australian Code of Ethics for Nurses. These are the probable reason for her medication error.

Nurses should also follow Professional Standards before administering care to patients. According to the Nursing Standards of Professional Practices, nurses are expected to evaluate their nursing practices before interacting with patients. They must follow the Duty Framework of decision making while performing their duty and maintain the obligationsexpected from them (McDonalds & Then, 2019). Minute mistakes can have adverse effects. It can even cost the life of patients. These practices go against the nonmaleficence principle of the Nursing Ethical Principles. Nonmaleficence states that nurses must provide care to patients to achieve a beneficial outcome (Edwards-Maddox, Reid, & Quintana, 2022). The safety of patients should be of prime interest (Brauner et al., 2018). In this case study, the entire situation got normalized only because the mistake done by Ann did not have any adverse effects on Bob. The scenario would have changed if the drug administered showed any negative side effects. Ann would have been accountable for the entire situation. Proper supervision and planning are important to manage such human errors. This would improve patient safety and health.

Another important factor in nursing is the need for ethical decision-making (Davis, 2018). Dilemmas are common in nursing (Rainer, Schneider, & Lorenz, 2018). According to the ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses, nurses are expected to fall into critical situations involving the treatment and life of patients (Stievano & Tschudin, 2019). They are expected to take vital decisions that shall help to improve the health conditions of patients keeping in mind all the ethical values, responsibility, and accountability factors (Schmidt, MacWilliams, & Neal-Boylan, 2017). Referring to the case study, it is known that Bob suffers from an anxiety disorder. Thus, any negative news can worsen his condition. Though the transparency is important in healthcare and patients have full right to know everything; considering this situation, it would have been best for Ann to not discuss this mistake with Bob. Medically it was evident that no harm would happen to Bob. Hence there would not have been any harm to hide this error. Rather discussion with Bob aggravated his anxiety level.

Evaluating the case study with Nursing Ethical Principles, overall it can be concluded that though such mistakes should not be entertained in healthcare systems, the complex situation in this case study can be considered different (Tajabadi et al., 2020). The mistake was due to the excess stress that Ann was facing for the last few days. She was working for more than 15 hours a day. Other than giving her pressure, the hospital should have ensured the presence of enough nurses in the department. Thus, Ann’s mistake is justifiable. The main error she did was in decision-making. Though Ann tried to follow the nursing guidelines and communicate openly with her patient, it led to negative repercussions. She could have discussed this situation with her colleagues before conversing. The advice given by her colleague would have helped to manage the situation without causing further effects on Bob’s health. It was indeed based on Bob’s best interests.

Reflective Analysis

Being a nursing student, I can understand that facing such situations shall be evident in the future. Since to err is human, there is no guarantee that such mistakes are impossible. Thus, I need to be more careful in my activities. I must understand the fact that nurses own a huge responsibility and minute mistakes are also not accepted in this situation. I would try to supervise myself and re-check my actions before performing. In case of administering drugs or injections, I would focus completely on my work and ensure I complete the work with full accuracy. In case of vital decision makings, I would always try to follow rules and regulations and be ethically accurate. In case of any confusion, I may consult my seniors or experienced staff members of the ward to get their advice before taking any wrong steps. Along with my nursing training, I would also try to enhance my stress handling capacity since nursing is indeed a stressful profession. I would also develop my verbal and non-verbal communication skills since proper interaction with patients can help to make the treatment procedure much easier.

If I ever encounter this type of situation in the future, I would keep the patient under constant observation to check what types of side effects the patient is facing due to the intake of the wrong drugs. In case no side effects are observed, I would still conduct basic pathological tests like blood parameters, the oxygen concentration of blood, and pulse rates. In case any side effects are observed, I would immediately consult with doctors and senior nurses who have the experience to deal such critical situations.


From the entire essay, it can be concluded that nursing is a high-risk involving profession and must be done with high precision. Any minute mistake can change the fate of both the nurses and the patients involved. Nurses are expected to follow ethical guidelines throughout their work life. Nurses also need to face ethical dilemmas while taking care of challenging patients. They must not lose patience and take decisions logically keeping the best interest of patients in mind. Their step and actions should also be monitored constantly to avoid errors in treatment. Hospitals and nursing homes are also expected to ensure the good health of medical staff. The management must understand that the health of nurses are important and rest and privacy is required in their lives too. Hence, maintaining feasible duty hours and providing them with mental support in times of need shall boost their strength and increase their productivity. All these factors shall overall help in the betterment of quality care and improve the health outcome of healthcare centers. 


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Edwards-Maddox, S., Reid, A., & Quintana, D. M. (2022). Ethical implications of implicit bias in nursing education. Teaching and Learning in Nursing.
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