Ethical principle in health care

Ethical principle in health care

NRS 440


One important ethical principle in health care is the issue of confidentiality and how it should be honored. When violated, has it major implications and consequence which can

results in the health care provider loosing his/her license to practice (Burckhardt, & Nathaniel,

2008). As Nurses and health care practitioners, we have the duty to promote an environment in

which human rights, and dignity are respected and at the same time provide the best care and

ensuring that information provided are respect and kept in confidence. In this essay, the

writer will explore how an ethical decision making by a nurse resulted in the breach of

confidentiality by using ethical theories and principles, and also assessing an alternate way to

ethical dilemma by using ethical framework and responsibility of ethical committee in resolving

ethical dilemma.

Ethical Implications

Based on ethical perspective, it is crucial to keep all patient information confidential as stated in the code of ethics unless it is harm to self or others. Furthermore, patients have the right to keep their health information confidential and make it accessible to doctors and other health professionals as needed. Confidentiality is a major part in ensuring trust. It is also the basis that the nurse is able to establish rapport with the patients. A breach of confidentiality happens at any time a patient’s information is disclosed to a third party without his or her informed consent. This can cause many complications including refusal of treatment from the patient. In this case, the breach of confidentiality may prevent other young children from seeking treatment and they may not trust the health care system.

Ethical Theories and Principles

Ethical theories and principles are the basis of ethical analysis. These principals’ guides and help with solving ethical dilemma. Ethical principles are the guidelines that express how to

employ the ethical outline in the environment of health care circumstances. Ethical theories have

important characteristics in decision making and these should be guided in relation to

specific goals in order to (Burkhardt, & Nathaniel, 2008). The ethical theory that will be used to

analyze this virtue-based ethical framework based on the person who is faced with

an ethical dilemma. Under this self-reflective framework, a person must decide what virtues to

morally strive for as a human being. When presented with an ethical dilemma, the

person should choose the course of action that is most in line with these virtues. Thus, a virtue

based proponent who chooses to live honestly may decide to tell the truth even if doing so hurts

other people or even herself.(xx.) In this case, the nurse should inform the parents since the child

is a minor and will need further treatment after the ER visit and also because of the implication

for future effects.

Dilemma using a framework of ethical decision making.

The first option is for the nurse to explain to the girl that, although she promised confidentiality but now that the she knows that the girl HPV contagious that is asymptomatic and, if left untreated, can turn into cervical cancer and would wreak havoc on her life, then it is appropriate for her parents to know so that they can assist her in seeking treatment. She should explain to the girl that she need treatment Also, based on the rapport with the girl, the nurse could ask the girl about her parents and her relationship with her parents. She could talk to her about how her parents would handle the news. The nurse should help the girl understand the importance of the parents being informed of this life-altering situation. The nurse should tell the girl that she will need support and medical treatment, that she will not be able to get without her parents help and consent.

Because the young girl will not be able to get proper medical treatment without her parents knowing, nor the support or care she will need, the nurse has to inform her parents that the girl has been diagnosed with human papilloma virus (HPV) and explain the implications. However, but the nurse should carefully select only the most pertinent information to share with the parents. It is not the nurse place to inform the parents as to how she acquired the STD. It is important for the parents to know so that they can monitor her closely. Sharing the news may destroy the relationship between the girl and her parents however if the nurse want to save her from cervix cancer in the future, them it is better to share for preventions purpose. Perhaps the nurse could first tell the parents about the girl being infected with HPV, see how they respond to it, and then decide what to tell them about the rest. It would also be good for the nurse to encourage the parents to not be too hard on the girl, and for them to try handle their personal and possible religious difficulties from hearing that their fourteen year old daughter was sexually active, with compassion for their daughter in being infected with a disease that, if not treated in its early phase, can turn into cancer. In this case, she could explain to the girl that she had a choice to either promise to tell her parents and provide proof to the nurse by a certain deadline, or the nurse would have to be the one to tell the parents.

In addition, the nurse should make a phone call to the school that, while she cannot disclose any names, that there are sex parties going on among the teenagers there and that there is at least one case of HPV, human papilloma virus, which could lead to cervical cancer and to provide information for the school to send out to parents about the sex parties going on along with the fact that HPV is contagious, asymptomatic, very common, and can lead to cervical cancer, and that parents should have their children tested. The nurse has a responsibility to the greater good and to the community to do what she can to warn them about this public health threat according to the virtues principles. Although breaking confidentiality is never something to be taken lightly, in this case, it is clear that the nurse has an obligation to break confidentiality for the safety of the child who happens to be a minor.

How an ethics committee might approach the dilemma.

An ethic committee may approach this issue by looking at what is in the best interest of the child. From an ethical prospective the breach of confidentiality is a big issues however, in this case of the minor, it is mandated for the nurse to report to ensure that the child get further treatment to avoid cervix cancer. An ethic committee may encourage the nurse to discuss this issue with the child and assure her that it is important for her parents to know in order to save her life from any future damage. The ethic committee may also advise the nurse that in the future, it is important to advise the minor that confidentiality can be broken with at a point when the information given present harm to self or others. An in this case the information present harm to self if the nurse does not inform the mother.


Betraying Trust or Providing Good Care?, When is okay to break confidentiality?.Retrieved from on May 1st 2013.

Burckhardt, M. A., & Nathanael, A.K. (2008). Ethics and issues in contemporary nursing, New York.