American Nurses Association Code Of Ethics Case Study

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Nurses have an ethical obligation to uphold the rights and wishes of each patient. The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics states that “The nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety of the patient” (ANA, 2015). Patients have the autonomy to decide what happens to their body regarding medical treatment. In some cases, health care proxies are appointed to ensure that the patient’s wishes are followed through with when the patient can no longer speak for themselves. A health care proxy is someone that is entrusted with the responsibility of determining treatment decisions for the patient.
I experienced an ethical dilemma in clinical last semester when my patient’s health care proxy did not uphold my patient’s wishes. My 96 year old non verbal patient named Carol was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of pneumonia. She was very weak and unable to eat on her own.
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It is clear that Carol’s right of self-determination was not upheld. Self determination is the patients right to “determine what will be done with and to their own person” (ANA, 2015). I came to the conclusion that I will do everything in my power to always advocate for my patients rights. While I applaud Kathleen’s attempts to pursue the patients’ rights and wishes, the doctor had the final say. The doctor believed that the patient’s condition was not fatal but would have been fatal if supportive nutrition was not provided. He felt it was in the patient’s best interest to receive the tube feedings in order to have a full and speedy recovery. I also thought to myself, would the patient have changed her decision to not receive tube feedings if she knew that it was her only chance at survival? Would she have agreed with her niece’s decision? Since she was non verbal and not able to convey her wishes it was ultimately up to the doctor and the health care

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