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Ethics And Law Applied To Nursing: Systematic Reflective Essay

Free essayCritical thinking skills are considered to be a fundamental requirement in professional nursing. Thus, nurses are encouraged to embrace and deploy them in the course of their undertakings (Caldicott Committee 1997). It should be noted that critical thinking skills are considered useful in the course of making logical and formidable decisions. Logical and systematic decisions provide qualitative decisions to the nurses (Connolly 2004).

Reflection should be embraced by nurses in order to allow them to make clear and concise decisions about patients. Experience, out of familiarity, should allow nurses to focus on multiple functionalities at any single time. These functionalities might include evaluation of patients’ outcome while still ensuring that higher standards for care are maintained (Levy 2012).

Ethical Issues within the Case Study

Leon’s was at the university when he was offered employment as a caregiver in a nursing home facility. The Code of Ethics for Nurses requires that such a person should be treated as a colleague to nurses at the facility (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council 2008). The treatment should be extended to nursing students, other nurses and any other individual concerned with provision of nursing services. The treatment should have been extended to Leon even though his employment was not properly analyzed. This is because the issue, at that point in time, the challenge was ascertained to be legally-positioned as opposed to ethically-wrong (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council 2008).

Speaking further, he and some of his colleague nurses took nude photographs for elderly residents and made immense fun of them in the course of tea-break. The fun involved comparing the genitals for the ER and trying to match them. Form the presentation, it was established that the photographs were passed onto the nurses thus making them identify the genitals of their owners in the course of the competition.

It should be noted that the matter could only be decided to depend on whether the nursing home facility had laid out policies that protected patients’ confidentiality and privacy levels. However, the policies could not be identified making it an ethical concern (Braunack-Mayer & Mulligan 2003).

According to Connolly (2004, 12), elements of ethics should be extended to include both the necessity of obtaining consent from patients to take photos and the already-laid out rules concerning privacy policies. In the course of conducting nursing practice, it is assumed that confidentiality for patient’s information should be governed by matters related to ethics. Notably, information pertaining to the patient should be obtained in order to increase the level of care being provided. It is also ascertained that the information can be shared among different nurses in cases of need. However, the discussion of such information should be conducted in confidence. For this case study, there were little or no chances that the photos were taken of patients with their consent. The assumption is that most patients will not find such request to be comfortable since they expect the nurses and other caregivers to treat them with the utmost respect. They are not expected to give consent to activities that might expose and depict them negatively as done by the photos (Connolly 2004, 12).

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Thus, with or without consent to take the photos, it can be assumed that Leon and his nursing colleagues did not uphold the ER’s rights to privacy and fair treatment. The matter was thus needed to be discussed on their ethical-position (Braunack-Mayer & Mulligan 2003). An important question to be asked is whether taking photos of patient’s genitalia amounts to breach of their immediate privacy rights. Notably, according to Levy (2012), the question can be further re-framed to indicate whether it was unethical for Leon and his colleagues to take photos without their immediate informed consent from the patients.

Available Fact Findings

Crook (2003, 426) argues that photos can be taken of a patient whenever it is ascertained that their immediate use is to assist them with an advanced level of care. The 1997 Caldicott report indicates numerous principles that can be identified and used to solve such ethical issues. First, the principle asserts that the purpose of obtaining a photo of patients should be justifiable. This means that taking patients’ photos should be justified beyond a reasonable doubt. For this reason, it is safe to assume that the nude photos should not have been taken unless their usage was considered essential and necessary (Caldicott Committee 1997).

Second, in case the usage rate for the photos were considered essential and necessary it thus meant that phenomenon should have been justified. Notably, the justification process should have outlined essential information that was cognizant of the elderly patients’ condition. Third, in case the photos taken were for medical purposes, it thus meant that they could have only been publicized to related medical colleagues. In this regard, the colleagues should have also been limited to distinctive sections of the photos that were perceived useful to their areas. Fourth, the nurses and other colleagues that are able to access the photos should have been made aware of their immediate responsibilities and duties.

Fifth, the Caldicott Report indicates that nurses and their colleagues should adhere to their duties diligently. Thus, they are expected to adhere to the laid out rules and regulations of the organization without fail.

Consequently, going by the aforementioned facts Leon’s case was unethical in nature. According to Levy (2012), the action, though unethical, was pardonable. He argues that numerous findings indicate that patients might be limited by their age-differences so that they fail to understand the importance of awarding consent. Accordingly, he indicates that there will be an immense challenge in promoting elements of approval measures. On the other hand, Rothstein (2003) argues that it will be a fundamental challenge to establish whether the elderly patients had the capacity to award knowledgeable level of consent.

Application of the Ethical Principles

For this case, it will be certainly difficult to get the ER’s perception on the matter, especially because they are likely to suffer from mental incapacitations. Thus, it is advised that their immediate relatives be alerted on the negotiation process (Connolly 2004, 12). The process of getting knowledgeable consent from ER’s is considered to be a central aspect of nursing. At present, this level of consent is deemed infringed in relation to the ER’s mental capabilities. Consequently, it is challenging to compare the events of the case to the principle of normalcy as opposed to their abilities to make informed choices. Connolly (2004, 12) continues to argue that individual independence is deemed significant although it is sometimes marred with immense levels of costs.

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Given the assumption that the aforementioned costs might be raised upwards, there is an immediate need to focus on reducing it altogether. The costs can be lessened through placing certain infringements on the autonomy hence eliminating the option of awarding informed consent. In another school of ethical thought, the argument put forward assign responsibilities to any mentally fit individual. The mental fitness should be used only in matters related to protection of one’s interest by being awarded the option to willingly reject participation in certain procedures and practices. The ability rewarded should be taken as a measure of protecting any possible perils that might befall the patient concerned.

Certain conditions are considered to be met in case one seeks free will consent. First, they should be allowed access to a sufficient level of information through constant revelations. Second, they should be allowed the freedom to embark on executing personal choices. Third, they should be made to understand the different levels of information partaken. Fourth, they should be able to make informed choices and give consent. Levy (2012) argues that in case the aforementioned conditions are met, the consent awarded is termed voluntary and deliberate in nature.

In this case, it is argued that Leon and his colleagues obtained the photos on mutual consent, which means that they were able to access consent from the ER’s guardians or, it might have been that the ER had given the consent competently. Thus, the consent should have been termed voluntary and deliberate in nature given that it was marred with elements of possible troubles and perils.

By considering other perspectives, it is consequential to ascertain that currently ill-functioning signs of hospitalization are ontological in nature. Thus, distinctive features of healthcare elements are perceived to be reciprocating past information. In this regard, ethical matters should depict the importance of patients’ elements of privacy, devotion and immense levels of confidentiality (Kerridge, Lowe and Stewart 2009, 94-96). Therefore, nurses and other caregivers perceive the objective of physical concerns as being related to a patient’s immediate need in hospitalization requirement (Beauchamp and Childress 2001).

Ethical Conflict

The fundamental ethical conflict for the case is cut between immediate need to protect patient’s levels of consent and rights to privacy in regards to the need for exposure. In this case, exposure is undertaken by Leon and his colleagues. On the other hand, the assumption holds that patients have the right for privacy of their information from third parties while caregivers have the moral and ethical obligation to ascertain that it is safeguarded.

Applicable Australian Law

Both Privacy Act 1988 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 require that patients be involved and informed in the course of sample collection, procession and utilization. The laws ascertain that patients should be allowed a chance to provide voluntary consent or in other cases refuse. These should be used as a platform for widespread protection of their confidentiality. Patients’ information should be used only in primary purposes.

Clinical Decision

In accordance with both the Caldicott Committee (1997) and Connolly (2004, 12), it should be argued that both Leon and his colleagues committed a breach of privacy crime. This can be referenced to the Australian laws, the NEC and the principles found within the Caldicott Report.


As it can be seen from the discussion above, nurses and other caregivers are encouraged to conduct activities intellectually. They should also adopt methodologies of consulting in order to ascertain whether or not patients are treated fairly. Ethical considerations should be made accessible for all nurses to perceive and analyze their immediate healthcare environments. Nursing home facilities should give room for elements of patient regulation societies and professionals to conduct their analysis on matters affecting patients that are unethical in nature. Such unethical activities might include weakened privacy and unnecessary disclosures and support for unethical schemes.

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