Nursing is a profession that mostly pertains taking care of the patients and administration of drugs. Similar to other professions, nursing also has ethics that govern the nurse’s daily routines. Ethics refer to the rules and regulations that govern a profession. Confidentiality is one among the most notable ethics that govern nursing. The rule of confidentiality states that nurses should not distribute the patients’ information to the public or any other specific person. This means that when a patient seeks medical attention and gives the nurse some private issues, a nurse should not go around telling it any other person without the consent of a patient. However, this may not be applicable to every case. Notably, a patient can come with a complicated problem that may need surgery or other serious medical attentions. Regarding that, a patient would have to advise the nurse to tell about that someone close to him/her or the nurses distribute the information by themselves.
Ethical Implication of Breach of Confidentiality
The nursing ethical implication of confidentiality states that a nurse shall not break the confidentiality between him and the patients. According to Bastable, this means that when a patient approaches to give a nurse some information, she has to maintain confidentiality as medical personnel seek medication for a patient. Additionally, even parents of a patient or any other close members are not supposed to be given the information without the patient’s permission. This rule is vital for effective patient-nurse relation and makes patients open when seeking medication. However, breaking the rule of confidentiality between a patient and a nurse is possible in cases where patients need serious medical attention. A patient with a minor issue that needs surgery and other medical attentions should be advised to tell his/her parents or a nurse could do that by herself. A nurse should maintain the confidentiality of a patient. However, it is vital to break it considering a serious problem that must involve other parties.
Ethical Theory to Substantiate Nurse’s Position
There are various ethical theories and principles under the field of nursing. Some of the notable theories include utilitarianism, virtue ethics, ideal observer theory, and deontology.
The utilitarianism theory states that nurses should make decisions with the ability to predict the outcomes of that particular issue. According to this theory, the choice that yields the greatest benefits to a larger number of people is the best choice ethically. For instance, if a patient approaches a nurse with a problem that is infection such as tuberculosis, the nurse does not have an option, but to report the matter to authorities to prevent the spread of the disease. Johnstone asserts that taking such an action means a nurse has to break the promise and save more people. That is ethically correct decision among nurses.
Alternative Way of Addressing Andrea’s Problem
Andrea’s problem was a serious problem that required immediate medical attention. However, the nurse was torn between keeping it a secret or distributing the information to parents. Initially, Andrea had persuaded her not to tell anyone. With the knowledge of the seriousness of the problem, the best alternative that the medical experts could do was to give the information to any other medical professional so that they could offer effective assistance to Andrea. She had engaged in activities that were not worth revealing to her parents. This alternative decision comes from the rights ethical theories, where the rights of a patient have to be respected each time.
The application of this framework is vital for the profession of nursing to help keep their words. Masters affirms that breaking of the patients’ confidentiality is not right but instead their right to confidentiality is important. That is the main reason why this framework is vital.
Ways which Ethics Committee can Approach the Dilemma Using Principles and Ethics
The ethics committee can approach this dilemma using different principles and ethics. Here are some of the ways they could do so.
Firstly, they could have applied to the principle of least harm. This principle states that the medical personnel always have to take an action that will affect least number of people. Andrea had informed the nurse that they usually attended sex parties, meaning they indulged in sexual acts with different people. Concerning that, the committee should inform the school administration so that she does not infect more students with STDs.
Secondly, the committee could have applied to the principle of justice. The principle of justice states that medical practitioners need to prescribe actions that are fair to those involved. This means that treating Andrea without telling anyone would be just for her. Additionally, if they had gone out to tell the school administration, it would not have been fair because she would have been ashamed and feel betrayed.
Ethics is a set of rules and regulations that govern a profession. Among the most notable ethics that governs nursing is confidentiality. The rule of confidentiality implies that a nurse should not circulate the patients’ information to the public or any other specific person. However, the nurses can break the information if there is the need to do that. This may happen if a patient has a serious problem that needs extra medication like surgical operations. Additionally, the other case that may lead to breaking the promise is when the client’s disease can infect other people. This is under the principle of least harm that states that the medical practitioners have to settle on a decision that would affect least people.