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A paper on Ethical Theories

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Running Head: ETHICAL THEORIES 1
Ethical Theories
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Ethical Theories
Nursing is a practice that requires a high level of ethics in order to undertake properly.
This is because it deals directly with the life of a patient, and the decisions that a nurse takes
while attending to his or her patient really affect the general health as well as promote faster
recuperation of the patient, or their health takes a down turn for the worst. As such, there are a
number of ethical theories that guide nurses in the performance of their duties and
responsibilities to their patients. These ethical theories enable them perform their duties
effectively as well as efficiently in order to protect and safeguard the lives of their patients,
which in most cases is the primary goal of all practicing nurses. In addition, these ethical
theories enable nurses to perform their duties more proficiently as well as professionally hence
lead to the speedy realization of the nursing objective (Butts & Rich, 2012).
A professional nurse encounters a number of situations as well as circumstances that
require them to apply ethical principles when undertaking their clinical practice. One of these

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ETHICAL THEORIES 2
serious ethical cases is when a patient requests the nurse or physician to put an end to their lives,
or at least assist them in ending their lives. This is a very tricky situation for the nurse since his
or her main objective is to safeguard the life of a patient, and if possible, enable the patient to
recover their health and become better to move on with their normal lives. As such, a request
from a patient to the nurse requesting him or her to assist them to commit suicide, especially with
the help of medical skills, arouses an ethical dilemma for the nurse (Guido, 2010).
The dilemma begins with the condition of the patient. In most cases the patients who
request medical physicians to assist them in committing suicide are those with terminal illnesses,
or those who have gone through a long period of suffering with no hope of eventual healing. As
such, they resort to death as a gateway to end their long-suffering. These patients usually do not
have any hopes of getting well, such as cancer patients who do not respond positively to
chemotherapy. Therefore, they may request a nurse to assist them in stopping their suffering,
such as through mercy killing, and thus put the nurse on the spot, as to whether to assist them to
become better and recover their health, or heed to their request and assist them to commit suicide
(Kahn, Moorhouse, Rodney & Yeo, 2010).
It is both legally wrong as well as ethically incorrect for a nurse to assist a patient to
commit suicide. Therefore, the ethical principles of a practicing nurse stipulate that the nurse
should not assist the patient to commit suicide. On the contrary, the nurse should try to encourage
the patient not to give up on his or her life, and hope for the best. This renewed hope of life will
give the patient inner strength to fight for his or her life, and as such, the renewed hope will
enable them record positive progress in their medication. This hope will, in some unique and
special cases, enable the patients to recover and get well completely, somehow miraculously.
However, even if they have to die, they die happily and in dignity after fighting a good battle for
their lives (Pozgar, 2013).

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ETHICAL THEORIES 3
References
Butts, J. & Rich, K. (2012). Nursing Ethics: Across the Curriculum and into Practice. Boston:
Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Guido, G. W. (2010). Legal and Ethical Issues in Nursing (5th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Prentice Hall.
Kahn, P., Moorhouse, A., Rodney, P. & Yeo, M. (2010). Concepts and Cases in Nursing Ethics,
Third Edition. New York: Broadview Press.
Pozgar, G. D. (2013). Legal and Ethical Issues for Health Professionals (3rd Ed.). Boston: Jones
and Bartlett.

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Anonymous
Excellent resource! Really helped me get the gist of things.

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