ADVOCATING FOR PATIENTS
When treating a patient with a suspicious injury or illness, what is the level of responsibility a nurse has in advocating for that patient? What if there is the possibility of substance abuse or domestic violence? How would these factors affect the patient’s treatment? What are the ethical dilemmas apparent in dealing with patient’s suffering from more than just illness? How would you handle the situation? Please answer the following:
What are some ways in which nurses in your work setting (I am a psych nurse) could fulfill their legal and ethical responsibility to advocate for patients with suspicious injuries or illnesses?
What are the major challenges to nurses meeting that responsibility, and what are some strategies that BSN nurses could use to help their colleagues overcome those challenges?
ADVOCATING FOR PATIENTS
There may be a myriad of definitions to nursing, but one theme remains recurrent. Caring is at the heart of nursing. The care a patient receives not only helps them understand their illness but also to cope. Suspicious injuries, however, present a legal and moral dilemma especially if the patient refuses to talk or give a satisfying account on how they got them. Nurses have a legal and ethical responsibility to immediately report cases of suspected domestic violence and drug abuse to the relevant authorities.
Nurses are often in a unique position to screen for aggravated domestic violence or substance abuse. Victims will seek medical attention. Even though it is imperative that patient confidentiality is to be respected by nurses, this rule can be overlooked when public safety or justice to override the individual’s privacy. To come up with a course of action that will be beneficial to all the parties involved demands the examination of legal, ethical, and ramification of each scenario.
It is essential for nurses to be able to identify the signs of domestic violence or drug abuse especially the subtle ones (Montgomery, 2016). The three key barriers that prevent active screening for domestic violence include; lack of education on abuse, limited resources to offer proper care and insufficient policy development to cover this area. Also, by reporting these cases, nurses may be subject to threats, intimidation or violence.
To remedy this situation, educating BSN nurses on elderly abuse and resources should be paramount in nursing school curricula. Current policies and practices should also be reviewed annually to test nurses’ readiness. Legislation should also be put in place to ensure nurses can carry out the professional duties in a fair environment free of interference from external factors.
Payne, D. (2014). Elderly care: Reflecting on the ultimate ‘never event’. British Journal of Nursing, 23(13). 702.
Montgomery, S. (2016). Domestic Violence Reporting for Nurses. Working Nurse. Retrieved from http://www.workingnurse.com/articles/Domestic-Violence-Reporting-for-Nurses