Ethical Decisions in Nursing Essay by Research Group

Ethical Decisions in Nursing
Looks at ethical dilemmas often faced by people in the nursing profession, drawing from the author's co-worker's personal experience.
# 26287 | 1,919 words | 7 sources | APA | 2002 | US
Published on Apr 28, 2003 in Medical and Health (Nursing) , Medical and Health (General) , Ethics (General)

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Ethical decisions have always been a part of the practice of medicine. By setting itself as a guardian on the line between life and death, medicine necessarily sets itself up as an ethical guardian of what life means, of what life is worth, of when life is preferable (and when it is not) to death. This paper examines a possible ethical choice that is in fact very much a real one often faced by nurses, drawn in large measure from the experiences of the author's nursing acquaintance. After the acquaintance had received her LVN degree and was working to support herself through school, she often worked as a private-duty nurse in the homes of people who had chronically and severely sick children. A number of these children had Spina Bifida, and it is this condition that this paper examines more closely because it provides such difficult ethical issues to resolve. In conclusion, this paper looks at the ethical issues surrounding anencephaly, which - despite the horrific nature of this birth defect --is in fact an easier arena in which to make ethical decisions.

From the Paper:

"Of all birth defects, spina bifida is one of the most severe and brings with it a number of complications for the child who has it. The condition is caused by a defective closure of the vertebral column during prenatal development. The severity of this disorder varies from a mild type (spina bifida occulta), where there is almost no sign of abnormality, to extreme cases involving a completely open spine and severe neurological disability. Part of the spinal cord and its membranes may protrude within a fragile sac. Hydrocephalus (excess cerebrospinal fluid in the cranial cavity) is frequently associated with the condition. In the U.S., spina bifida affects about 5 percent of the population. Surgical treatment is required for all but the mildest cases. If not surgically treated, affected infants die of infection or are severely disabled."

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