Ethical Dilemma in Nursing

Nursing is a very ethical profession that requires nurses to provide empathetic care while maintaining ethical standards. However, nurses face complex ethical dilemmas in nursing that challenge their moral borders. Many ethical dilemmas occur when nurses get caught between their professional obligation and the patient’s choices. Ethical Dilemma in Nursing:

As a nurse, it is essential to understand these ethical dilemmas and how to deal with the ethical challenges when you encounter them. In this blog post, we will focus on ethical dilemmas in nursing and look at the examples and solutions to moral dilemmas in nursing.

What is an ethical dilemma in nursing

As an aspiring nurse or student, it is essential to understand the ethical dilemma in nursing and how to avoid them. Here we will look at the complete meaning of the nursing ethical dilemma. So, how do you define ethical dilemmas in nursing?

An ethical dilemma in nursing is when nurses encounter conflicting professional principles to create a complex decision-making process. The nursing ethical dilemma often happens when two ethical principles clash. The nursing ethical dilemma involves challenging choices impacting patient care and well-being.

To resolve these ethical dilemmas in nursing, you must have quality skills in critical thinking and include a systematic approach that will consider the ethical principles of the nursing profession. You must ensure open communication and collaboration with other healthcare providers to maintain the standards of patient care and nursing performance.

Examples of ethical dilemmas in nursing

As discussed earlier in the article, ethical dilemmas in nursing are challenging because nurses face conflicting responsibilities. In this article, we will examine the ethical dilemma in nursing examples and solutions. Below are some examples of moral dilemmas in nursing; and include the following;

  • Confidentiality versus patient safety

In this case, a nurse will suspect a patient confided in them about violent behavior and has an intention to harm others. As a nurse, you must have a duty to maintain your patient confidentiality to protect potential victims.

  • The patient autonomy versus beneficence

In this case, we will look at a situation where you, as a nurse, care for an aged patient suffering from a terminal illness and experiencing extreme pain. Then, your patient refuses to take further medication, which you believe will reduce the pain or suffering. As a nurse in such a situation, you must balance by respecting the patient’s autonomy and ensuring that you serve them their right to make decisions to promote your patient’s recovery or well-being.

  • The cultural versus religious beliefs

This is a very critical example of an ethical dilemma in nursing. As a nurse, you work with different patient populations, and in many cases, there is a risk of conflict between your beliefs as a nurse and the patient’s beliefs. For example, if you are against the excessive use of over-the-counter drugs and are providing care to a patient who has a tendency to use such drugs. As a nurse, you must navigate the tension between your principles or values and respect your patient’s cultural and religious beliefs.

  • End-of-life-care or intensive nursing care

You must be prepared to encounter ethical dilemmas when performing intensive care. For example, as a nurse, you struggle to decide when to withdraw from life-sustaining treatments such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation. That is why it is very challenging for you as a nurse to balance the principle of ensuring no harm and your patient’s right to die with dignity.

  • The allocation of scarce or inadequate resources

During pandemics, these are the situation where nursing resources are very scarce or inadequate. In such cases, nurses always face the challenge of allocating resources to provide high-quality nursing care. As a nurse, you must determine the life-saving treatment you will provide to your patient in a situation with scarce nursing resources. This dilemma will involve balancing nursing principles to provide quality nursing care to your patient.

Remember that the above-discussed issues are the major ethical dilemmas in a nursing scenario. Now, you understand that each situation is unique, and the nursing ethical dilemma will depend on the context and a specific position. As a nurse, you must learn to consult your colleagues to help you navigate such nursing dilemmas and make decisions that will be in the interest of providing quality nursing care to the patient.

DNR ethical dilemma in nursing

As a nurse, understanding the DNR ethical dilemma in nursing is essential. The DNR ethical dilemma in nursing occurs when there is a conflict between four main principles: patient autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and family and caregiver perspectives. A DNR is a medical directive that informs nurses not to perform end-of-life care, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, on patients who stop breathing.

Most nursing dilemmas occur because implementing the DNR order is very challenging. There are four primary critical ethical considerations that you need to understand to implement the DNRA order. Below we have discussed the ethical consideration that you need to involve in a DNR order; they include the following:

  • The patient autonomy

Let’s first define autonomy to understand why it must be considered in implementing the DNR order. So, what is patient autonomy? This is defined as the patient’s right to decide based on the nursing care.

Patients must be allowed to express their wish to die naturally or choose a mercy killing. Most patients make such a decision due to poor prognosis and low quality of life and health. As a healthcare provider, you must respect the patient’s autonomy by respecting their decisions and allowing them to control their life choices.

  • Beneficence

This is the second critical ethical consideration involved in the DNR order. This principle promotes the actions or decisions that benefit the patient and improve their health. As a nurse or healthcare provider, you must provide the best medical intervention to save your patient’s life.

In some health cases, cardiopulmonary resuscitation may not be an effective way to save the patient’s life, and it causes more harm to the patient. In such cases is when the DNR order is considered.

  • Non-maleficence

This is a nursing principle that requires you as a nurse not to cause any harm to the patient. The attempt to do a cardiopulmonary resuscitation is not considered an effective way of saving a life.

Still, it is said to cause a painful death process to the patient as it involves chest compressions that may lead to internal injuries. In this case, a DNR order is considered an effective way to prevent suffering for the patient.

  • Family and caregiver perspective

The patient family and caregiver are crucial in making decisions based on the DNR order. Sometimes they might have opinions that differ in their patient’s best interest. Conflict is pervasive in this case, where the family members have different views on the patient’s wishes. Thus, balancing the desire of the patient, family and the nursing team is challenging.

As a nurse, you must include your nursing team in openly communicating with the patient and family regarding end-of-life care. These include making a clear decision to implement the DNR orders. Open and transparent communication involving nursing ethics will help to address the dilemmas based on DNR orders in nursing.

Effects of DNR ethical dilemma on Nursing

DNR order has some significant effects on the nursing care providers and the patients. As a nurse or nursing student, you must learn how to deal with the DNR ethical dilemmas in nursing. Here, we have listed the significant effects of the DNR ethical dilemmas in nursing; and they include the following;

  1. The patient and family conflicts
  2. The emotional burden on healthcare providers
  3. The challenges related to ethical decision making
  4. Complexities of the end-of-life care
  5. Impacts on Healthcare provider’s identity
  6. The breakdown of trust and open communication
  7. The impact on patient life quality
  8. It leads to emotional and moral distress
  9. It leads to interprofessional conflicts
  10. The emotional impact on patients and families

Ethical Dilemma in nursing essay

Writing an essay on ethical dilemmas in nursing requires enough knowledge and skills to think critically. When writing your essay, you must explore the ethical dilemmas that nurses or healthcare providers encounter during nursing practice. You must examine the underlying principles and discuss the strategies to navigate these situations while maintaining ethical nursing practice standards.

It would be best if you remembered that nursing requires technical expertise and strong skills in ethical decision-making. Understanding the major ethical principles will help you create an ethical dilemma in the nursing essay that appeals to the audience. It will help if you are looking for essay samples on ethical dilemmas that experts write to hint at how to structure a high-quality essay.

This blog has provided steps to create a good nursing essay on ethical dilemmas. These steps include the following:

  1. Ensure that you understand the topic of your essay
  2. Create an outline for your essay
  3. Write your introduction paragraph
  4. Develop the main body paragraphs
  5. Write you conclusion
  6. Edit and revise your essay

Summing up

Nurses face complex ethical dilemmas that challenge their moral and emotional standards. These dilemmas occur when there is a conflict between the nursing professional obligations and the patient’s decision. In this article, we have discussed the major ethical dilemmas in nursing and their solutions.

For more information, visit us at and learn more about the ethical dilemmas in nursing. You can also get help writing your nursing essay based on ethical dilemmas. If you need assistance with your nursing assignment, our experts are ready to help you.

start Whatsapp chat
Whatsapp for help