Legal and Ethical Conduct The Ethical Dilemma Nurses must always demonstrate professional conduct when handling difficult situations. The discussion this week described a difficult situation in which a public health nurse learned that her sister’s boyfriend is positive for HIV. The nurse must decide what her next course of action will be. As a professional nurse, the proper course of action would be to maintain the patient’s confidentiality.
The Florence Nightingale Pledge states “I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling” (American Nurses Association, 2012). My first step as the nurse in the above situation would be to seek HIV counseling for my sister’s boyfriend. During this counseling he would be encouraged to notify all sexual partners of his HIV status.
I would not want him to feel uncomfortable discussing his status with me; therefore I would talk to my supervisor to determine if another staff member should provide the counseling. I would also want to address the situation with my sister while still maintaining her boyfriend’s confidentiality. I would begin our discussion by mentioning the statistics of HIV within our community. I may tell her that I am thinking about getting tested and ask her if she would like to get tested as well.
My conversation may then lead to the importance of protected intercourse and reinforcing ways to prevent the spread of HIV. Rules & Regulations The Federal government establishes laws that regulate the nursing profession. Each state has a Board of Nursing which imposes additional state rules and regulations. The Board monitors the nursing profession to ensure both state and federal regulations are followed. Modern nurses are faced with ethical dilemmas on a daily basis. It is essential that nurses are familiar with the laws governing their profession when addressing these situations.
In 2001, The American Nurses Association published the Code of Ethics with Interpretive Statements. This document defines the ethical obligations of professional nurses. According to this document, nurses should maintain patient confidentiality. “The rights, well-being, and safety of the individual patient should be the primary factors in arriving at any professional judgment concerning the disposition of confidential information received from or about the patient, whether oral, written or electronic” (American Nurses Association, 2001).
Each state has The Georgia Board of Nursing Standards of Practice defines unprofessional conduct as the following, “disregarding the patient/client’s dignity, right to privacy or right to confidentiality” (Georgia Board of Nursing, 2012). The Georgia Board of Nursing feels that nurses should protect all patient information unless legal obligations require them to do otherwise. Obligations & Virtues Lachman (2008) identified four professional obligations that must be met by nurses when faced with ethical dilemmas. “Respecting the patient’s privacy and protecting confidentiality; •Communicating honestly about all aspects of the patient’s diagnosis, treatment and prognosis; •Conducting an ethically valid process of informed consent; and •Advocating for the patients expressed interests or best interest” (p. 44) The qualities or characteristics of an individual influence the way they handle situations. In order to make good ethical decisions, Lachman (2008) believes that nurses must possess six virtues: •“Professional competence; •Honesty and integrity; •Caring and compassion; Fairness and justice; •Respect and self-respect; and •Courage” (p. 44). Summary I chose to maintain the patient’s confidentiality in the above scenario. For this reason I feel that I made the correct ethical decision. When faced with ethical dilemmas, nurses must consider all options and determine which option is in the best interest of the patient. If the nurse always considers what is best for the patient, then the right decision will always be made. References American Nurses Association (2001). Code of ethics with interpretive statements. . Retrieved from http://nursingworld. rg/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses/Code-of-Ethics. pdf American Nurses Association (2012). Florence Nightingale pledge. . Retrieved from http://nursingworld. org/FunctionalMenuCategories/AboutANA/WhereWeComeFrom/FlorenceNightingalePledge. aspx Georgia Board of Nursing (2012). Standards of practice. Retrieved from http://rules. sos. state. ga. us/docs/410/11/02. pdf Lachman, V. D. (2008). Making ethical choices: Weighing obligations and virtues. Nursing 2008, 43-46. Retrieved from http://www. nursingcenter. com/lnc/journalarticle? Article_ID=817321