Ethical dilemmas present a certain degree of complications, especially when it affects the professional career. A dilemma presents itself in a situation that requires a person to choose between right and wrong. In most cases, choosing either would lead to some undesirable outcome. As stated in my ethical memoir, I was asked by the nurse to insert a Foley catheter into one of my patients. I refused to do it because I was not certified. In addition, the procedure seemed invasive, with high probability of causing UTI to the patient. I wrote a note, without further consultations, and slipped it under the door to the nurse manager’s office, something that led to the firing of the nurses on duty. The ethical theory that applies to this experience is Emmanuel Kant’s (1724–1804) Rule-base theory (Janaway & Robertson, 2013). Kant’s ethical rule states that a moral action should be based on the reasons for the action. He goes on to note that people should “act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Janaway & Robertson, 2013). On the same note, each person has an autonomy that gives the authority to be part of the decision to be made.
According to Kant’s theory, ethical dilemma requires an analysis of the situation depending on the options available and the consequences. Choosing a given action for a reason will lead to a certain consequence. For instance, I decided to write a note to the manager who was absent at the time, informing him of the incident. I had my reasons for not conducting the procedure as requested by the nurse and decided to leave the facility without any conversation on the issue.
Medical ethics requires that all parties reason out before settling on a decision. According to Kant’s theory, medical decisions should be morally acceptable by all humans. All humans have the right to respect and dignity, whether sick or healthy. Therefore, I think I failed to follow Kant’s theory before making my decision (Janaway & Robertson, 2013). First, I knew that the patient had the right to know about the procedure to be conducted on her. The nurses on duty and I failed to inform her of the decision to insert a Foley catheter on her. This means that none of us considered the dignity and right of the patient, despite knowing its implication.
My decision failed to meet Kant’s ethical theory. I could have respected the nurses on duty and discussed the situation and implications of the procedure with them. All parties have the right to information on the procedure to be conducted and its implications. I could have taken my time to talk with them on the need to inform the patient on the procedure. I also failed to inform the nurses that I could not perform the task because I was not qualified. Perhaps they could have understood and taken the necessary precautions. Therefore, I rushed to inform the manager without talking with the nurses on duty on the issue while the nurses could have done the right thing.
Medical dilemmas require the use of certain theories to make informed choices. According to Kant, autonomy is an important aspect that should define the choices medical practitioners and patients take (Hussain & Shaw, 2013). Tests or procedures should never be conducted on the patients without their knowledge. Similarly, the practitioners must have open channels that allow for the right procedures on the patients. The situation could have been different if I knew Kant’s ethical theory. The option taken should ensure the outcome is for the good of society.
Hussain, N., & Shaw, N. (2013). “Meta–ethics and its discontents: A case–study of
Korsgaard,” in C. Bagnoli (ed.), Constructivism in ethics, New York: Cambridge University Press, 82–107.
Janaway, C., & Robertson, S. (2013). Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Normativity. New York:
Oxford University Press.