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Saturday, 24 May 2014 12:47

Ethical Dilemma Featured

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Ethical Dilemma

An ethical dilemma is a conflicting situation that involves making a decision between two moral actions. The conflict manifests itself in that adhering to one action automatically violates the other action and vice versa. An ethical dilemma leaves a person with the problem of having to make a decision that shows moral character especially when faced with a complex situation. Ethical dilemmas are further complicated by the fact that they are unpredictable and unforeseeable hence not possible to prevent the situation before it occurs. Health care professionals such as nurses are often faced with ethical dilemmas, on a regular basis, due to the nature of their profession (Basavanthappa, 2003).

Ethical dilemmas demonstrate various characteristics. The first is that there is no right and wrong in ethical dilemmas. Actions are based on a moral decision. Consequences of ethical dilemmas also bear significant consequences on a person and society as a whole thus the need to keep the needs and safety of affected persons first. Ethical dilemmas also leave a person with the task of making a choice between two undesirable alternatives that offer different courses of action.Ethical dilemmas differ from other situations especially when these situations could lead to harm.

For instance some people may refuse modern medication due to their beliefs in traditional medicine or due to influences from their religious beliefs. Such a situation leaves a healthcare professional in a dilemma as upholding the patient’s autonomy might results to the patient’s death. The issues of confidentiality also leave nurses in a dilemma especially if they desire to enquire for assistance from peers and colleagues (Basavanthappa, 2003).  A patient’s right to privacy cannot always be upheld in health situations that jeopardize others. For instance, a contagious disease must be reported so as to avoid further spread.


Basavanthappa, B. (2003). Nursing administration. Jaypee Brothers Publishers


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