Choose an ethical dilemma you have faced at some point in your clinical practice or as a nurse leader in which a decision had to be made if something is “good” or “bad.” This could be a dilemma that is currently a part of your practice or a situation that occurred in the past.
Scenario: Respecting Patient Autonomy vs. Beneficence
A nurse is caring for a patient with a severe form of cancer. The patient’s oncologist has suggested chemotherapy as a potential treatment option that could prolong the patient’s life, but it would also likely cause significant side effects and negatively impact the patient’s quality of life.
After being informed about the potential benefits and drawbacks, the patient has decided not to undergo chemotherapy, preferring to prioritize quality of life over the length of life. However, the patient’s family strongly disagrees with the patient’s decision and pressures the nurse to convince the patient to accept the treatment, believing that it’s in the patient’s best interest to do whatever it takes to prolong life.
This situation presents an ethical dilemma between respecting the patient’s autonomy (their right to make informed decisions about their own care) and beneficence (the principle of doing what’s best for the patient). The nurse may feel torn between respecting the patient’s wishes and dealing with the family’s demands.
The nurse must handle this dilemma by respecting the patient’s autonomy while educating and supporting the family. The nurse might arrange a meeting with the healthcare team, the patient, and the family to discuss everyone’s concerns openly and ensure that all parties clearly understand the patient’s condition, prognosis, and treatment options.
Even though the family’s wishes come from a place of concern and love, the decision ultimately lies with the patient. Respecting patient autonomy is a fundamental principle of medical ethics, and the nurse must uphold this even in the face of pressure from family members.
The topic you choose should be an actual ethical dilemma that you faced in the past. This assignment is not theoretical, meaning it is based on an actual event you experienced.