What Are Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing?

Ethical dilemmas in nursing include issues such as suicide, honoring patients’ rights to refuse treatment, deciding whether to provide honest answers to alleviate fears of health or making issues sound worse and giving proper treatments conflicting with personal religious and moral beliefs. Nurses, as with doctors and other healthcare professionals, face quandaries daily when caring for others. Nurses face issues when dealing with elderly patients, terminally ill patients and others from different socioeconomic backgrounds and personal values.

One issue that raises ethical concerns is suicide. Nationally, the right to assisted suicide remains a debated subject. Some Americans support giving patients with grim medical diagnoses, such as cancer and other terminal illnesses, the right to die under the professional guidance of trained medical professionals. Even in states allowing assisted suicide, however, nurses may personally object to that practice.

Honoring the rights of patients to refuse treatment poses ethical concerns, too. Nurses evaluating patients with eating disorders, for instance, cannot force treatment if patients refuse which conflicts with nurses’ instincts and some legal duties to help patients. Nurses face dilemmas when deciding when to use or not use available resources on patients, such as using large quantities of expensive medicines to make terminally ill patients comfortable.