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Ethics, Biases and Responsibilities of Nursing

Written by kimmel52 on January 8, 2013 – 9:59 pm


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Ethics, Biases and Responsibilities of Nursing
nancy kimmel
October 7, 2014

Ethics, Biases and Responsibilities of Nursing
On any given day, the nurse will be faced with ethical challenges. The consequences of the nurses action in doing the “right thing” creates a dislocation point within their peer and management group.(Huston, 2014, p. 256) From my personal experience I know of one ethical dilemma that I faced. It was the morning shift. I had just made rounds. As I sorted out the medications I was going to pass, I noticed that one of my patient’s medications consisted of Depakote®(“Valproic Acid and Pregnancy,” 2014), Zyprexa®(“What special precautions should I follow?,” 2014) and Tetracycline®(“What special precautions should I follow?,” 2014). This would not have been a problem except the nurses from the midnight shift stated that the patient was only three months pregnant and had stated she was going to have an abortion. I looked through the chart to see if there was a consent signed for a D &C. There was none. I also proceeded to check if the psychiatric medication consent form was signed. This form needed to be signed prior to administering any anti-psychotic medications. The Physician was responsible for explaining to the patient the side effects. Next, I noticed that the attending Physician wrote the order for the Tetracycline and that the Psychiatrist wrote the order for the anti-psychotic meds. After reading this, I went to the patient and explained to her that there could be very teterogenic side effects to her unborn fetus if she were to take these medications either together or individually. She stated that she didn’t care because she was planning to have an abortion. I graciously bowed out and went to my head nurse. I explained to my head nurse that without documentation of a procedure for a D & C or any signature from the patient indicating that they understood the side effects of the combined medications, I could not in good faith pass these meds. In fact, I added that she could change her mind in a few hours. My head nurse just looked at me and asked me if I was defying a Physicians order. I said, “Yes”. She then proceeded to call the nursing supervisor who also asked me if I was refusing to pass the meds. I told her that I would not pass the meds citing documentation via the Micro-Medex®(“Truven Health Analytics,” 2014) drug compatibility table and my nursing code of ethics, to do no harm.(“Code of Ethics for Nurses,” 2010) After a brief discussion with my head nurse, they relieved me of this patient and gave me someone else. The nurse who took over the care of my patient followed the Dr.’s orders and passed the meds. I was told to write an incident report.
Impact of Legal Responsibilities
My first and foremost responsibility is too my patient. That has and will always be how I practice nursing. However my stance, the actions that I took obviously affected the care of the patient and not for the better. Could I have done it differently? It is important that the nurse has a scope of practice. This is what guides us to know what we can and cannot do. As nurses we must be very careful what lines we cross. Physicians are notorious for asking us to perform skills not within the scope of our practice.
Strategies to Address Conflict
There is no easy answer but as a group voice we can be heard. Which is why being part of the legislative due process of lobbying, helps to have laws passed that protect the nurse and patient.(Mason, Leavitt, & Chaffee, 2014, p. 669) Joining a nursing association also helps bring a unique camaraderie for nurse in their field so specialty, where they can also find peer group support for their cause.

Code of Ethics for Nurses with interpretive statements. (2010). Retrieved from
Huston, C. J. (2014). Legal and Ethical Issues. In Professional Issues in Nursing Challenges & Opportunities (3rd Edition ed., pp. 256-262-262). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins a Wolters Kluwer business.
Mason, D. J., Leavitt, J. K., & Chaffee, M. W. (2014). Policy and Politics in the Community. In M. Iannuzzi (Ed.), Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care (6th ed., pp. 668-669-669). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders.
Micromedex Solutions. (2014). Retrieved from
Olanzapine. (2014). Retrieved from
Tetracycline. (2014). Retrieved from
Valproic Acid and Pregnanacy. (2014). Retrieved from

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