Nursing is governed by a lot of factors. Laws, professional guidelines and ethics are some very crucial thing that helps us understand the basic functionality of the registered nurse aspect. In this research, it would be discussed on the basis of a case study on how these factors play a role in guiding the nursing practice. The major principles that guide them and the code of conduct that is being followed by the Australian nursing department would be depicted. It will also be highlighted that what course of action should be followed that would be better for the patient as well for the nursing staff.
Law and Ethics are really important as they act as a base on which the nursing staff would operate. It showcases the line that the nursing staff of Australia has to maintain while interacting with the patients. The rules and laws apply to all the nursing staff of Australia. The reason behind this is that a lot of issues relating to the nursing department have arisen in the recent time. They have made the job of right and wrong very difficult. The code of conduct and ethics used would help the nursing staff to understand how all this contributes towards the health care of the country (Birks, 2016). The various aspect of nursing is it administrative, educational or clinical is ruled by the laws and ethics. It is very essential to have professional guidelines and ethics when it comes to nursing practice in Australia. The major value and characteristics in this aspect are:
- Better understanding of their responsibilities- Due to the involvement of professionalism in the business, the nursing staff has a clear idea about their obligations and the way they can meet them. It lays down the dos and don’ts that they need to follow removing any scope of confusion.
- Set as the base of what nursing is and what all they do- The ethics and law defines the basic jobs that nurses irrespective of their position or location should do help them in maintaining a uniformity in their task across the country.
- Any change in plan or policies- The ethical and professional guidelines helps one to understand how everything is working and if any change is required in the plans and policies with respect to the nursing department than the same can be advocated with the help of these laws and professional guidelines.
There are a set of major principles that are being followed with respect to the laws and the ethics and their relationship with to nursing practice. They are:
- Patient focused services: The most prime principle that governs all the laws and guideline is that the services should be such which focuses on the patient and their betterment. The therapeutic communication, cooperation and the collaboration would be very effective helping in building a good relationship between the nurses and the patient (Westbury & Brown, 2016). The guidelines would instruct the staff on what all should be the top priority making it effective for the nursing staff to function.
- Knowledge based practice: Another important principle is that all the practice done should be based on the knowledge. The Australian nursing staff has experience which can be used when it comes to following the right laws and ethics. Care should be done with learning from the past which will help the nurses to avoid committing any mistake (Hunt, 2015). Sharing required knowledge and health literacy with the patient can be really effective in creating strong professional relationship leading to growth of the nursing staff.
- Professional behavior: Proper professional relationship should be maintained at all time with the patient. Any act that does not seem viable or is bound to break some ethics or law should either be avoided or tackled judiciously to avoid any conflict whatsoever. The entire act done by them should be taken with full responsibility and they should be ready to bear any consequences related to it (Kangasniemi.et.al, 2015). A proper code of conduct should be followed and professional and personal relations should be kept separated maintaining a strong control over them at all times.
- Ethical Practice: Ethics is a very crucial part of the Australian nursing staff. The key principles state that point. All matters related to client’s confidentiality and privacy should be respected and maintained in all cases. It also promotes that all the information should be maintained properly leaving no gap for any mistake. The ethics also governs that client is always the first priority and all the important decision regarding him should be taken under proper supervision and guidance (Aliakbari.et.al, 2015). All these would be really helpful in smooth functioning of the nursing practice.
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) works under the law that is set by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law of Australia. It states all the major aspect that governs the laws and rules when it comes to the nursing and midwifery aspect in Australia. The main aim of all this is to take proper care of the patients. A very important thing kept in mind while preparing the codes of ethics and codes of practice is that the board reviewed many national and international literature to review what all would be suitable for them and hence prepared it accordingly (Terkamo-Moisio.et.al, 2016). The major points of consideration are:
- The main aim of all this is to maintain a safe and proper code of conduct which makes it easier for the patient and public to know what to expect out of the nurses.
- These would be really helpful in improving the administrative practices and policies that are being operated and maintained in the nursing department.
- The main principles and value of the NMBA and code of ethics are to work with the legal requirement and practice that are set out for them. A professional relationship should be maintained with the aim of delivering the best to the customers.
- An informed decision should be taken with expert consultation and any issue that seems to overcome the ethics should be properly discussed and thought over before a solid decision is taken over it.
The case study highlights how an individual had a word with a nurse on committing suicide due to the medical issues suffered by him. This made the question of law and ethics very prominent in the nursing practice of Australia as the nurse was in a dilemma to choose between two ethically right options (Science direct, 2016).
As a nurse it was very difficult to choose whether to maintain the patient confidentiality and remain silent about his desire to commit suicide or as a responsible medical practitioner consult her superior and explain to them the opinion of the patient. When it comes to immediate action, the nurse should way both the options under different lights. This is because both of them showcases tow right ethical option where one would take precedent over the other. The nurse immediately decided to share the thoughts with other medical staff. This was necessary as they were facing an ethical dilemma (Atkins.et.al, 2017). Between all the options available this one was the most suitable. This is because if the patient commits suicide than all the blame would be put over the nurse as in spite having an idea no action was taken over it.
The ethical principle that applies to this case states that while taking a decision the good of the patient should be taken into consideration. This is the reason the immediate action involved informing the other staff members about the patient and his wish. It is the prime duty of the nurse as per the code of ethics to positive action that is necessary for the well being of the patient in all circumstances. It also states that maintaining the patient’s safety is top most priority. That is why all the things should be done to maintain that in all situations. Another principle that can be applied to this case study and falls in the immediate action list is that a patient at times may take decision which would do them more harm than good (Edmonds, 2016). Therefore it becomes the prime duty of the healthcare and nursing staff to make sure that steps are taken to prevent such action. Thus informing the staff and having a word with the patient is so crucial.
The reason informing the other medical people and doctors about the patient thought process was a very important immediate action should that they can help the nurse in guiding the right step to do. After that the nurse team followed their protocol with respect to self harm and suicide and had a word with the patient in respect to his desire to commit suicide. It helped them to communicate with him on the reasons for his this decision. This helped them in understanding his state of mind and proper communication was maintained along with the nursing intervention which helped in dealing with the situation in the right ethical way. The patient was then transferred to other unit of care where he was kept under strict observation to make sure no sign of suicide attempt or any other harm were shown to him. He was later discharged without any issue.
It was necessary to communicate with him and provide them with the correct psychological help. This is because it helped to clarify the issues that made him arrive at that decision. Another reason that made the staff overrides the privacy issue is that the suicide attempt would have had a bad effect on the institute along with the family of the patient who trusted the staff to take the best decision related to the health of the patient. All this made the staff makes the patient understand that the pain suffered by him would reduce by time. They also contacted his family and daughter whose lack of support was a prime reason in his desire to suicide. All these were done to improve the psychological condition of the patient and helping them recover from this mood of depression. The National Code of Conduct maintained states to take decision with the consent of the patient (Masters, 2015). But if the decision taken by the patient harms him or anyone in any way especially with the sign of any legal complication in the future made the nurse take all the necessary action which was required for the betterment of the patient’s life.
As the matter was of life and death, the nurse had not taken an immediate action of informing others than the patient would have committed suicide. This would have created a huge legal complication for the hospital. This is because according to a code of ethics keeping things secret in order to maintain autonomy can be described as a situation in which the nurse allowed the patient to die irrespective of being informed of his desire to die (Scanlon.et.al, 2016). This also set as a good solid base for the future to all the other staff at the workplace that if there is a question between two ethical dilemmas or to decide what to choose, make a choice that is most suitable for the life and betterment of the patient.
Laws and code of ethics are the set boundary making it easier for the nursing department to function. It helps them as a guiding force stating the principle that they should be concentrating upon while treating any patient. This was very helpful in the above case study as it helped in saving a life while still maintaining the proper nursing ethics. All this is done under the guidance of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia to take proper care of the patient and helping the nursing staff by guiding them the proper path that should be followed in terms of the rules and regulations expected by them.
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Science direct, 2016 [Accessed from] [Online] <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352013215000149> [Accessed on 08/03/2018]