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Ethical Dilemma Paper


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Ethical Dilemma Paper

One of the primary roles of nurses is to offer proper medical care to patients to help reduce or manage their pain. Part of this role includes helping these patients learn how to practice self-care to improve their overall health and wellness. Nurses encounter several difficult situations where choices have to be made, some of which might not be based on ideal options or produce clear answers. To ensure that they continue providing competent and quality care to their patients, every nursing practitioner needs to recognize ethical dilemmas in their various workplaces and take appropriate actions to address the presenting issues. Thus, this paper will provide an example of an ethical dilemma in the healthcare setting and describe the various ethical concepts and theory involved in the identified situation. Lastly, this paper will explore the overall influence that these ethical concepts have on my nursing practice. 

Situation and Theory Application

One of the typical healthcare situations that present a scenario of an ethical dilemma is conflict in the application of science and spirituality in treatment. Generally, healthcare is usually based on scientific evidence and is oriented to results. However, some patients often come to the hospital with strong religious beliefs that restrict their ability to access proper and prompt medical interventions or lifesaving techniques whenever they need them (Plante, 2007). For instance, consider patient X, who presents in the hospital with a severe injury that has caused her to lose a huge amount of blood. The nurse on duty informs the patient and her family members that a blood transfusion would be necessary before undergoing further treatment. Despite the urgent need for this clinical intervention, the patient and her family members show strong disapproval of the blood transfusion because it violates their religious and spiritual convictions. Therefore, the nurse on duty is caught between respecting personal choices of the patient and providing the much-needed care intervention in order to save this patient’s life. 

Ethical Concepts and Theory Involved

The ethical concepts involved in this situation are beneficence, accountability, fidelity, autonomy and self-determination, and veracity (Edwards, 2009). The concept of beneficence involves doing what is considered good and right for the patient, such as required of the nurse attending to the patient presented in this case. Secondly, accountability includes taking responsibility for the personal and professional consequences arising from the nurse’s actions when caring for the patient in this scenario. Thirdly, fidelity is an ethical concept that implicates being truthful and faithful to the professional responsibility and pledge by delivering competent and appropriate care interventions to those in need (Hough, 2008). Additionally, autonomy and self-determination require upholding the patient’s right to make their own decisions concerning their treatment plan, such as portrayed in this case. Lastly, the concept of veracity involves displaying the utmost truthfulness to the patient (Edwards, 2009). This concept is applicable in this particular case because the nurse is obliged to give the patient and her family members the whole truth about the importance of the transfusion and explain to them the possible outcomes the patient may experience for not receiving the required intervention. 

On the other hand, the nursing theory associated with this ethical dilemma is Culture Care Theory. Culture Care Theory was developed by Nurse Madeleine Leininger to provide comprehensive care interventions that meet the patients’ diverse cultural needs (Black, 2019). The theory recognizes the importance of care knowledge and cultural competency to understand the general care being provided to the patient to support the patient’s wellness, the healing process, and compliance in the delivery of care. Its intent is to provide congruent care based on the patient’s culture and nursing care, such as supportive and facilitative care, making decisions that fit institutional, groups or individual values, lifeways, and or beliefs. This will promote better health outcomes or beneficial health meaning to various individuals of people that come from different cultural backgrounds. As such, this theory considers cultural diversity, such as the patient’s religious belief, as one of the important aspects to incorporate in the treatment approach by using professional and generic knowledge to fit such beliefs into health care goals and decisions. The nurse and the patient creatively design the modalities and care lifestyle based on the patient’s well-being.

Influence of the Concepts in My Nursing Practice

Each of the five ethical concepts identified in this paper will be of great significance to me as a healthcare provider, considering that they will help me improve my professional practice by becoming a better nurse (Hough, 2008). For instance, observing the concepts of beneficence and accountability will ensure that I always do the right thing that I consider as good for my patient, and accept responsibility for the consequences of my actions, whenever I am discharging my duties. Secondly, fidelity will ensure that I stay true to my professional responsibilities by offering my patients high quality and competent care interventions. Additionally, applying the concept of autonomy and self-determination will help me consider the patient’s opinion, beliefs, and values when developing their care plan. Lastly, the concept of veracity will help me communicate openly with my patients, thereby ensuring that they are fully informed about their health and treatment process. 


The healthcare setting is indeed characterized by various situations that are likely to cause ethical dilemmas to the care providers, such as nurses. Some of these ethical issues may arise because of a conflict between the provider’s professional opinion and the patients’ personal choices. Being aware of such situations and understanding all the ethical concepts and theories involved are essential to determining the most appropriate measures to apply in order to solve the dilemma. Proper incorporation of these practices in the nursing practice is vital to ensuring that patients are provided with safe, high quality and appropriate care interventions to address their underlying health problems.  


Black, B. P. (2019). Professional Nursing E-Book: Concepts & Challenges, 239.

Edwards, S. D. (2009). Nursing ethics: a principle-based approach. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Hough, M. C. (2008). Learning, decisions and transformation in critical care nursing practice. Nursing ethics15(3), 322-331.

Plante, T. G. (2007). Integrating spirituality and psychotherapy: Ethical issues and principles to consider. Journal of clinical psychology63(9), 891-902.

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