Essay Sample on Ethical Dilemmas Encountered in the Nursing Practice

Published: 2023-03-02
Essay Sample on Ethical Dilemmas Encountered in the Nursing Practice
Type of paper:  Case study
Categories:  Genetics Healthcare Ethical dilemma Nursing care
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1695 words
15 min read

Nurses encounter different dilemmas in the healthcare setting that occur during their interaction with the patients and other staff (Morrison, 2011). First, informed consent is a common nursing dilemma that arises when the patients and other clients are not informed well about the treatments to be performed in the clinical setting. Secondly, revealing medical conditions may lead to ethical dilemmas in the nursing practice because some family members may request the nurses to avoid disclosing the treatment approaches and prognosis levels to patients.

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It is the responsibility of nurses to disclose critical information to the patients; therefore, resulting in a dilemma if the family members and friends do not want the patients to know their medical conditions. The third ethical dilemma affecting nursing practice is incompetence in the profession (Morrison, 2011). In this case of professional inability, nurses have required the problem, but they decide to remain silent because it may affect staffing. Lastly, broader ethical issues may result in professional dilemmas in nursing practice. For instance, registered nurses (RN) may be obligated to oppose capital punishment. Also, some ethical issues like moral resilience and distress may contribute to dilemmas in the nursing profession.

Ethical Theories and Principles in Healthcare

The understanding of the Hippocratic concepts requires the incorporation of different ethical theories and principles that help in guiding all nurses in their practice. Ethical theories and principles are essential in guiding nurses in their practices and improve the quality of outcomes through patient safety and satisfaction. Consequentialist Theory is a crucial framework that helps in preventing nurses from doing any harmful activity on the patients. According to Morrison (2011), Consequentialist Theory describes the relationship between actions and outcomes. Nurses are required to engage in operations that do not harm the patient in the healthcare setting. Secondly, Virtue Ethics Theory helps in ensuring that all nurses respect the identity of all patients and other clients in the healthcare facility. Virtue Ethics Theory also focuses on the promotion of components of humanity like respect, justice, integrity, kindness, and honesty (Dunbar-Reid & Buikstra, 2017). Also, Deontological Theory is an ethical approach that prevents nurses from performing activities opposing the moral law. The ethical theories are crucial in avoiding errors in the healthcare environment and makes all nurses responsible for their actions.

The ethical principles include beneficence, autonomy, justice, and nonmaleficence (Summers & Morrison, 2009). Beneficence is a moral principle that focuses on doing enjoyable activities that do not harm other people. According to Morrison (2011), nurses are morally obligated to engage in benevolent acts and help the patients recover from their medical conditions. Nonmaleficence relates to the principle of beneficence since it emphasizes on avoiding harmful activities (Summers & Morrison, 2009). In the healthcare context, there is no debate on whether nurses should avoid harming because they are obligated to promote the recovery of the patients through beneficial acts.

Thirdly, autonomy focuses on prioritizing other people's interests. According to the principle of independence, nurses are required to put the interests of the patients first as self-rule (Summers & Morrison, 2009). Autonomy is a normative ethical principle that is significant in promoting patient safety and satisfaction. Lastly, justice ensures that patients are cared for based on their needs. The consideration for justice is critical in promoting fairness and equality among all patients.

The Interdependency of Genetics, Genomic, and Ethics in Nursing Care

Genetics, genomics, and ethics are interdependent concepts in nursing practice. It is essential to understand the relationship between ethical issues and daily nursing care practices in the healthcare facility. The Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States have provided multiple reports on the interdependence of genetics, ethical issues, and genomics in nursing practice (Pasta, Clawson, & Fisher, 2008). Some of the ethical challenges affecting genetic and genomic programs in the United States of America include discrimination, confidentiality, and privacy. For example, the decision on whether nurses should access genetic information of their patients is an ethical consideration that affects outcomes.

Also, the determination of an appropriate individual who controls all genetic information has become an ethical issue in nursing care. Also, it is a moral issue to request all job applicants to undergo genetic and genomic tests or screening as one of the employment requirements. Nurses are essential in promoting patient safety and satisfaction throughout their practice (Pestka et al., 2008). Also, nurses engage in genetic and genomic-based activities like collecting samples, family information, and ensuring informed consent necessary for testing or screening. Nurses administer gene-based therapies to patients or clients.

Nurses are required to apply ethical theories and principles during genetic and genomic testing. For example, nurses must use moral norms like respect and confidentiality by keeping the results of genetic and genomic testing. Disclosing the test results to other people is unethical in nursing care because it violates the privacy of the patient and confidentiality of the therapeutic procedures (Pestka et al., 2008). Nurses are responsible for interpreting and translating the genetic and genomic information to patients with the consideration of the underlying ethical issues.

Principles of Genetics and Genomics in Nursing Care

The understanding of genetic and genomic principles is essential in the development of core competencies in the nursing profession. The laws of genetics and genomic relate to nursing practices directed for patient care. First, the ability of nurses to understand the nature of chromosomes during cell division allows them to make an appropriate prediction on the genotypes of patients based on the familial, historical information. Secondly, some specific traits are acquired through the inheritance of autosomal dominant genes. The characteristics associated with genetic inheritance and X-linked (Morrison, 2009). In this case, the nurses will use genetic principles to determine the inheritance of specific medical conditions. After analyzing the familial history, the nurses will request other family members to be tested for the disease to determine its relation to genetics and genomics.

The principle of paired factors ensures that nurses understand the genome composition of different populations and make a prediction on the possibility of inheriting a genetic disorder based on the genotypic and phenotypic characteristics. The principle of dominance enables the relationship between genetic composition and inheritance of a medical condition (Morrison, 2009). The nurses use the law of dominance to assess the frequencies of disease occurrence in a family; therefore, making an appropriate diagnosis.

Difference between Professional and Legal Policies in Nursing Practice

The needs of the patients are core in nursing practice. Different approaches are used in differentiating professionals from legal policies in the nursing practice (Furlong, 2018). First, the professional policies encompass the interests of the patients within the premises of a healthcare facility. On the other hand, the legal systems cover the rights of patients within and beyond the premise of the healthcare setting. Secondly, the professional policies allow nurses to establish ethical plans on care delivery, advocacy of the client, and patient care while legal aspects limit nursing practices. Thirdly, the professional policies are based on six principles of ethics like Beneficence, Nonmaleficence, Justice, Fidelity, Veracity, and Autonomy, while legal components emphasize on government regulations (Morrison, 2009). Lastly, professional policies are developed from the responsibilities of nurses and ethical concerns in the healthcare setting. On the other hand, legal systems relate to litigations that relate to federal laws against negligence.

Nursing Care Strategies that Incorporate Genetic and Genomic Risk Factors

Genetic and genomic nursing is an essential approach in contemporary patient treatment and care. Different strategies have been applied by the leading healthcare organization in the United States to incorporate the related risk factors (Dunbar-Reid & Buikstra, 2017). Staff training and development is an essential strategy used in improving the quality of patient care and overall outcomes. Genetic and genomic risk factors are involved and require a lot of professional competence. Genomic and genetic competencies are developed through regular training of the staff. Interdisciplinary training ensures that quality services are provided to the clients in the healthcare setting. Mayo Clinic has applied staff training and development strategy in managing the genetic and genomic risk factors (Furlong, 2018). Also, genetic and genomic-based practices are essential in improving the competencies of the interdisciplinary teams.


In conclusion, the lack of professional competence among other health care officers makes leads affects the quality of outcomes in the facility. Ethical challenges affect the results of genetic and genomic research activities. The increase in the availability of genetic and genomic data has challenged nurses to acquire a proper understanding of the related ethical issues like maintaining confidentiality and privacy, decision making, and discrimination based on test results. Genetic-based care among the interdisciplinary teams promotes the advocacy of the clients and improves the quality of outcomes.


Dunbar-Reid, K., & Buikstra, E. (2017). The Environmental Impact of Healthcare and Haemodialysis: The Jekyll and Hyde Dilemma. Renal Society of Australasia Journal, 13(2), 38. Retrieved from:;dn=931013485647157;res=IELHEA

Furlong, E. (Ed.). (2018). Health Care Ethics. Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved from:

Morrison, E. E. (2011). Ethics in Health Administration: A Practical Approach for Decision Makers. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Retrieved from:

Morrison, E. E. (2009). Health Care Ethics: Critical Issues for the 21st century. Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved from:

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