The Importance Of Conscientious Conduction In Healthcare

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Conscientious objection in healthcare refers to the rejection of an action or treatment by the provider, on the grounds that it would violate their deeply held moral or ethical values about what is right and wrong (Lachman, 2014). In nursing, this is signified by the refusal of the nurse to undertake a procedure and participate in a situation on the basis of conscience (Lachman, 2014). According to the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (2015), a registered nurse has the “right to refuse to participate in procedures which they judge, on strongly held religious, moral and ethical beliefs, to be unacceptable” (p. 1).
This position statement will aim to convey the reasons why nurses should not be able to conscientiously object to situations
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Trossman (2015) states that it takes courage to conscientiously object to a situation that is against your ethical beliefs, as if nurses cannot remove themselves from these situations it becomes intolerable (Jones, 2016). This results in nurses experiencing moral distress, emotional and physical fatigue, which can lead to burnout. When exercising conscientious objection, nurses should follow the appropriate lines of authority and structures in place, and contact their organisational ethics committee but also be aware of their obligation not to abandon their patient. A nurse is legally bound to a patient once they begin the treating process, until another nurse can assume responsibility for that patient. Arguments for conscientious objection state that organisations must provide nurses with the staffing requirements necessary to maintain their moral integrity, and that nurses do not need to participate in patient care which is morally compromising (Trossman, 2015). The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (2015) states that nurses should support each other’s right to conscientious objection, and prevent them from …show more content…
This is portrayed in the NMBA (2016) standard 2.2 which states that a nurse “communicates effectively, and is respectful of a person’s dignity, culture, values, beliefs and rights” (p. 3). Therefore, according to Australian nursing standards, a nurse should respect a patient’s decision about their own care regardless of personal beliefs or objections.
The most common form of moral objection comes in the area of women’s sexual and reproductive health services, in relation to induced abortion and the use of emergency contraception (Levi, 2015; Stewart, 2013). It can be argued that this is an incorrect use of conscientious objection and professional integrity, as those who choose to care for women who have chosen to terminate their pregnancy do so due to their deeply held belief that this procedure is in the best interest of the patient (Levi, 2015). Therefore, these views and beliefs demand the same protection and respect as those who conscientiously object to abortion care (Levi, 2015). Nurses must be aware that conscience underpins a women decision to have an abortion and ensure they provide safe and unstigmatised abortion care (Stewart, 2013). For example, the NMBA (2016) standard 2.3 states that a nurse “recognises that people are the experts in the experience of their life” (p. 3). Therefore, a nurse should always advocate

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