Applying Ethical Framework in Practice Essay

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The ethical principle of confidentiality demands nondisclosure of private or secret information about another person with which one is entrusted. In hospital settings, nurses have the responsibility to maintain patient’s private information confidential and sharing only those information that are necessary to provide patient care. According to the ICN Code of Ethics for
Nurses (2006), “The nurse holds in confidence personal information and uses judgment in sharing this information.” Maintaining confidentiality of patients is an expression of respect of persons and, in many ways, is essential to the nurse-patient relationship (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2008, p. 67-68). It is essential for nurses to understand how to approach ethical issues
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If confidentiality is breeched, patients may be reluctant disclose all information to physicians and nurses and may even avoid seeking medical help when necessary. The ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses (2001) and the CNA Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses
(2002) direct nurses to maintain confidentiality. ANA code of ethics states that the standard of nursing practice and nurse’s responsibility to provide quality care requires that relevant data be shared with those members of the health care team who have a need to know. Also duties of confidentiality are not absolute and may need to be modified in order to protect patient, other innocent parties, and in circumstances of mandatory disclosure for public reasons (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2010). In this case if nurse Hathaway did not break confidentiality, then it would harm the patient without being able to get proper treatment.

Here, nurse Hathaway decided to disclose the information to girl’s parents and to the school officials. In both cases, patient confidentiality is breached. Nurse Hathaway felt that it is necessary to inform the minor’s parents to prevent any harm to the girl. By informing the school officials, nurse made a wrong choice and was a breach of confidentiality. It shows the disrespect to individual privacy and autonomy.
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