Ethical Issues in Nursing

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Ethical Issues in Nursing: Critically Ill Neonates

Who decides and communicates the neonate’s prognosis? Where is the line drawn for treatment? Who is responsible for identifying positive versus debilitating outcome ratios in neonatal care? Who decides enough is enough? These questions only begin to touch the surface of what nurses and healthcare personnel face when it comes to providing ethical neonate medical care. According to Skupski et al. (2010), “The cusp of viability, where some but not all infants may be able to survive, has been pushed to incrementally lower gestational ages. The number of neonates born yearly at extremely premature gestational ages has increased dramatically.” (p. 579). With this said, difficult ethical decisions are becoming more and more demanding due to the advances in healthcare technology and treatment methods that give premature and critically ill neonates a chance at survival. Parents and families of these neonate patients grasp this advancement in health care and strive for positive health outcomes for their children, but in all reality health care personnel including physicians and nurses must work collaboratively to identify ethical health care goals to treatment and stand behind their decisions. The article, Moral Obligations of Nurses and Physicians in Neonatal End-of-Life Care, identifies several key objectives that deal with end-of-life care in neonates that focus on both the infant and their parents (Epstein, 2010). Physician obligations include decision making specifically timing of treatments and patient prognosis, where as nurses provide care to the dying patient during the end-of-life period. By working in collaboration, these two entities of the healthcare team are able to provide ethical care to the critically ill neonate and their family. Where do nurses take a stance…...

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