Ethical principles refer to the basis for decisions that nurses make on consideration of the consequences and universal moral guidelines, when making various clinical judgments (Grace, 2009). They allow nurses and other medical personnel to portray a respect for patients and their families. The primary ethical principles include justice, respect for autonomy, nonmaleficence and beneficence. Other ethical principles in the nursing field are fidelity, veracity and confidentiality (Grace, 2009). This discussion will consider how nurses’ personal needs, preferences and biases conflict with those of patients and their families, as well as the applicability of ethical principles in the identification of the most appropriate decision, when conflict arises.
In various situations, needs, preferences and biases of a nurse may conflict with those of patients and their families (Masters, 2013). For instance, the terminally ill patients and their families may require a nurse to practice the euthanasia, which will terminate the prolonged suffering. However, nurses prefer to apply their own efforts effectively to save the lives of patients (Grace, 2009). Therefore, personal preferences of nurses against the euthanasia will conflict with the needs and preferences of the terminally ill patients for euthanasia. A nurse may fail to treat gay patients based on their sexual orientation (Masters, 2013). This bias of discriminating gay patients will conflict with the need of patients and their families to receive a medical attention. When the conflicts arise, nurses will find ethical principles extremely significant in identifying the most appropriate decisions (Bartter, 2001). For instance, a nurse will realize that the decision of refusing to treat gay patients is not an appropriate decision because of the nonmaleficence and beneficence ethical principles.
In conclusion, a nurse should follow ethical principles during the nursing practice to avoid the influence of their personal needs, preferences and biases, which may conflict with those of patients. Autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, fidelity, veracity and confidentiality are the ethical principles, which help nurses in identifying the most appropriate decisions, when conflicts arise (Grace, 2009).
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