Nursing Students Face an Ethical Dilemma essay


Ethical Behaviors

Lydia demonstrates a number of ethical behaviors. These arebeneficence, respect for autonomy and nonmaleficence.

Beneficence is demonstrated by Lydia’s desire to act in the bestinterest of the patient. She acts in a way that benefits the patientby reflecting on the changes that will occur in Mr. Dunn’s lifefollowing the amputation. Although she knows that the operation ismedically needed, she also questions the wellbeing of the patient andaims at making a decision that is in the patient’s best interest.

Lydia depicts a respect for autonomy. She talks to the patient andhis niece about the situation. By doing so, she respects the freedomof the affected individuals in making the decision on their own.Also, Lydia recognizes the need for Mr. Dunn to continue leading anormal life, which will not be achieved once the amputation surgeryis performed.

Nonmaleficence is an ethical behavior that requires the nurse todesist from causing harm to others (Burkhardt &amp Nathaniel, 2013).It can either be deliberate harm, risk of harm or that occurs whenperforming helpful acts. Lydia realizes that although the amputationis beneficial to the patient, it is also likely to cause harm as itwill result in the inability of Mr. Dunn to take care of himself.

Ethical Theory

Tonya is practicing the ethical theory of deontology. It is based onthe rational view that the rightness or wrongness of any act relieson the act’s nature and not the consequences. According todeontology, ethical rules can be categorized as collective and theactions of humans are guided by consistent principles (Burkhardt &ampNathaniel, 2013).

The theory applies to Tonya because her decision can be evaluated onthe basis of its rightness and wrongness. The decision is rightbecause the physician has examined the patient and determined that itis necessary to amputate Mr. Dunn’s leg. Her decision is also wrongbecause she is making a rapid decision, yet the situation requirescareful consideration.

Also, Tonya’s decision is deontological because she does notconsider the consequences of the amputation. She only makes it clearthat it is necessary to perform the operation as soon as possible.

Focal Virtues

Lydia and Tonya use different focal virtues to arrive at theirdecision concerning Mr. Dunn. Lydia uses compassion and discernmentwhile Tonya uses integrity.

Compassion – Lydia thinks of the situation and imagines thedecision she would want taken assuming her father was in the samesituation. She demonstrates compassion through her capability toenvision herself in the similar situation that affects the patientand his niece. In addition, she reacts emotionally to the situation.This is apparent through her concern for the patient’s sufferingfollowing the amputation.

Discernment – The focal virtue refers to the ability to make acutejudgment and understanding the outcome of making a decision(Burkhardt &amp Nathaniel, 2013). Lydia applies acute judgment inher decision as she takes time to reflect on the best action for Mr.Dunn. She additionally evaluates the outcome of a rush decision toamputate the patient. Her use of discernment depicts her sensitivitytowards her patient.

Integrity – Tonya does not use compassion or discernment becauseshe makes a rapid decision. The focal virtue most applicable to heris integrity. Although she does not consider the consequences of theamputation, her decision is sound considering that the patient needsthe amputation.


Burkhardt, M. A &amp Nathaniel, A. (2013). Ethics and issues incontemporary nursing. New York: Cengage Learning.