Clinical Ethical Dilemma in Nursing

Learning objectives

  • To understand the significance of ethical dilemmas in health practice.
  • To apply ethical theories in nursing.
  • To understand the importance of ethical principles in healthcare.
  • To develop evidence-based nursing concepts.
  • To appreciate the importance of multidisciplinary teams in medical practice.


  • Nurse practitioners (NPs) encounter numerous ethical challenges.
  • Such predicaments can affect the nature of care delivery.
  • NPS should be ready to address the ethical concerns affecting their practices (Wagner & Dahnke, 2015).
  • This presentation gives a detailed summary of a clinical ethical dilemma.
  • The outline describes how the ethical issue was addressed.

Clinical ethical situation

  • The ethical dilemma was a suicide attempt.
  • The situation involved a teenage boy aged 14 years.
  • The teenager took large doses of drugs.
  • The situation was challenging due to the family’s religious foundations.
  • The ultimate goal was to support the patient and his family.

Ethical dilemma characteristics

  • The patient was having communication problems with his peers.
  • The boy chose to commit suicide.
  • However, he did not want his parents to be informed about the situation.
  • The religious beliefs of the family were against any form of suicide.
  • The parents found it hard to forgive their son.

Ethical principle violated

  • The outstanding principle violated in the situation is supporting and respecting a client’s religious beliefs (Parahoo, 2014).
  • The teenager did not want his situation disclosed.
  • The practitioner chose to inform the parents about the situation.
  • The scenario presented a greater challenge.
  • The parents could not believe what had happened.

Barriers to ethical practice

  • NPS should uphold and respect their clients’ religious values.
  • The ethical practice could not be upheld due to the nature of the situation.
  • Failure to disclose the right information could catalyze more suicide attempts.
  • It would be wrong to tell lies to the parents.
  • These barriers forced the NP to make the most appropriate decision.

The ethical theory used to influence the situation as an FNP

  • Utilitarian theory informed the decision undertaken by the practitioner.
  • The theory supports happiness for the largest number of persons (Parahoo, 2014).
  • It was appropriate to support the patient’s healing process.
  • Informing the parents would encourage them to support the process.
  • The ultimate goal was to ensure the teenager was supported psychologically.

Self-reflection: Emotions, thoughts, and overall reaction

  • This ethical dilemma explains why nurses should maximize health outcomes.
  • Patients might focus on their family values and ignore their health conditions.
  • Religious beliefs are critical in healthcare practice.
  • The scenario encouraged me to play the role of an advocate.
  • I appreciated the importance of collaboration and multidisciplinary teams to deliver quality care (Wagner & Dahnke, 2015).

Handling a similar situation as an FNP

  • Utilitarianism is a concept that seeks to maximize happiness for all.
  • FNPs should always be ready to address the health needs of their clients.
  • I would therefore address a similar situation using the same approach.
  • The ultimate goal is to support the health of my client.
  • The involvement of different professionals can create a neutral ground and promote better health outcomes (Ma, Batterham, Calear, & Han, 2016).


  • Religious beliefs are critical in healthcare.
  • FNPs must uphold the best principles and values.
  • Evidence-based ideas can guide FNPs to deal with ethical dilemmas.
  • Ethical dilemmas should empower NPs to become better caregivers.
  • The inclusion of more persons in the care delivery process maximizes patient outcomes (Ma et al., 2016).


Ma, J., Batterham, J., Calear, L., & Han, J. (2016). A systematic review of the predictions of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior. Clinical Psychology Review, 46(1), 34-45. Web.

Parahoo, K. (2014). Nursing research: Principles, process and issues (3d ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wagner, M., & Dahnke, D. (2015). Nursing ethics and disaster triage: Applying utilitarian ethical theory. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 41(4), 300-306. Web.

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