Essay on Protecting the Rights of Patients - Essay Prowess

Essay on Protecting the Rights of Patients


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Protecting the Rights of Patients


Nurses face immense dilemma as they undertake their duties. One of these challenges is the protection of their patients’ rights. Notably, every individual is entitled to proper healthcare. However, this situation changes in times of crisis, where nurses are forced to serve one person at the expense of another. Additionally, these health practitioners are required to obtain informed consent from their patients before undertaking any procedure. Consent can only be given after patients have enough information regarding their conditions. However, sometimes physicians, who may be senior to the nurses, do not offer detailed information, leaving nurses in a dilemma. Nurses are also confused when they have to make a choice between terminating a life, especially when the chances of survival are low, and protecting the resources of the patient’s family.

Protecting the Rights of Patients

Nurses are key to promoting the well-being of society. Specifically, nurses ensure that patients are comfortable in hospitals by providing them with the necessary support. The nature of this profession demands morally upright individuals who prioritize the interests of the sick. People seek medical services for their health to improve. Therefore, nurses have an immense responsibility to ensure that patients receive optimum care. However, nursing practitioners face many ethical dilemmas as they perform their duties, such as protecting patients’ rights. According to Turale (2014), nurses are obliged to respect patients’ cultural inclinations and their right to life, respect, and dignity. People should be treated equally and with compassion and care. While these are progressive proposals, their implementation is sometimes limited by the lack of resources and support, which creates a moral dilemma for the nurses.

Many of the ethical issues that nurses face involve patients’ rights, especially the sick’s right to life. While death is inevitable, health practitioners are required to take all the necessary precautions to reduce mortality cases in their organizations. The achievement of this objective depends on how they handle patients from arrival to departure. Although nurses are obliged to undertake all measures to ensure that people live, they also have a responsibility of protecting patients and their families from heavy costs. Sometimes, nurses are almost certain that an individual has no chance of surviving, especially when the person is on a life-saving machine. The decision to terminate life is challenging (Ulrich et al., 2010). In case the nurses believe that the termination of life is the viable option, they must disclose all the details to the patients’ families for them to decide on the best course of action. One person may argue that it is important to save the family from incurring unnecessary expenses. At the same time, another might hold that it is unethical to end a life, which indicates the dilemma nurses face.

Patients can also decide to end their lives, which might sometimes be against the nurses’ wishes. The Federal Patient Self-determination Act (PSDA), which was effected in 1991, gives patients the right to discuss their end-of-life treatment preferences with their medical practitioners, such as nurses (Karnik & Kanekar, 2016). Health professionals are obliged to respect the patient’s decision. One of the challenges presented by this Act is that a patient can choose an end-of-life method that the nurse does not approve, either due to the cost or the pain involved. The only option that a nurse has is to explain the merits and demerits of the selected option. However, they are not allowed to go against the individual’s wishes. Sometimes, patients who have little chances of surviving can also decide to prolong their lives using medically advanced treatment interventions. While the nurse has a duty to protect life, they also have a responsibility of safeguarding patients from harm, especially when a life prolonging procedure appears futile. One individual may argue that it is important to follow the patients’ wishes, while another may hold that a nurse should act in the patients’ and family’s best interests. Overall, the nurse should provide detailed information on the benefits and the challenges of the patients’ preferred option and allow them to make the final decision.

Patients also have a right to informed consent. Specifically, they should be well-informed of their treatments and clinical prognosis. Ideally, no individual should be subjected to treatment procedures that they do not approve of (Croudass et al., 2018). Informed consent seeks to promote a patient’s autonomy. Often, nurses are tasked with ensuring that individuals understand all the details relating to their conditions and the interventions. Patients should understand the advantages and disadvantages of a particular treatment option. Sometimes, physicians may withdraw information that can influence a patient’s decision. Nurses are often concerned that patients are not fully informed about their treatments, especially during surgeries and end-of-life scenarios. Sometimes, the management structure could cause the omission of critical information, making it difficult for nurses to raise the issue. Other times, the patient’s condition could make the physician withdraw some details regarding the treatment. For instance, if a doctor realizes that a patient who requires surgery is nervous, they might downplay its consequences to make them accept the procedure. A nurse in this situation would be confused as to whether or not to disclose all the information.

In times of crisis, nurses face the dilemma of the patients to prioritize, especially when resources are scarce. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, health practitioners have made difficult decisions on who to live and die. The virus affects the respiratory system, causing breathing difficulties. In such scenarios, people use ventilators for breathing. However, these essential medical equipment are scarce in many countries. While all people deserve urgent medical care, nurses have made tough choices. For instance, young and productive individuals have been prioritized over the elderly, who have little chance of surviving. The decision to allow some people at the expense of others is always tough, as no individual deserves to die because of a shortage of resources.

As a nurse, I am aware that I am likely to experience legal and ethical dilemmas in my line of work. One of the most difficult challenges I expect to encounter is the issue of informed consent. Patients have a right to detailed information regarding their conditions and the available treatment options. Due to this, I will always strive to explain issues to patients in languages they can understand. Rao (2008) asserts that patients can only be deemed to have consented when they had all key information regarding their ailments and the treatment procedures. Additionally, I will always do what the patient asks. However, I understand that keeping this promise can be difficult, especially when a patient wants to terminate their lives in a way I disapprove of. However, the profession requires me to respect people’s wishes. While I believe that it is important to follow a patient’s requirements, it is also key to help them understand the benefits and challenges of their preferred options.

Nurses face a myriad of legal and ethical dilemmas as they perform their duties. Specifically, various situations make it difficult for them to promote patients’ rights, which is a legal requirement. Health practitioners are required to provide patients with crucial information regarding their conditions and treatment interventions before consenting to any procedure. Sometimes, physicians withhold some information, which puts nurses at a difficult position, especially when the physicians are their seniors. Additionally, nurses are required to respect patients’ wishes. This requirement can be challenging, especially in situations involving the termination of life. Patients or families may require procedures that nurses do not approve, which can be confusing for nurses. Overall, giving detailed information about a procedure is key to helping patients make the right decisions.


Croudass, A., Hughes, C., Phillips, H., & Tye, K. (2008). An approach to obtaining informed consent from patients with cancer. Art & Science22(30), 35-38. 10.7748/ns2008.

Karnik, S., & Kanekar, A. (2016). Ethical issues surrounding end-of-life care: A narrative review. Healthcare4(2), 24.

Rao, K. (2008). Informed consent: An ethical obligation or legal compulsion? Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery1(1), 33-35.

Turale, S. (2014). Ethical dilemmas: The challenge of advocating for human rights. International Nursing Review61(3), 299-300.

Ulrich, C., Taylor, C., Soeken, K., O’Donnell, P., Farrar, A., Danis, M., & Grady, C. (2010). Everyday ethics: Ethical issues and stress in nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing66(11), 2510-2519.