Major Ethical Issues Facing Nurse Practitioners

The higher degree of education, the more responsibility, and increased serious ethical issues are faced by professionals. Nurse practitioners are in high demand in 2013, and this demand will rise over the next few years. The population is exploding. Baby boomers are now seniors or fast becoming seniors needing increased healthcare.

A licensed practical nurse and a registered nurse face some frightening complicated ethical issues in their career of public service. When a nurse has expanded her career into the field of nurse practitioner, the ethical issues he or she faces increases tremendously.

Nurse practitioners have the knowledge, skill, freedom and flexibility in the healthcare field to work independently with the doctor. This independence will cause a nurse practitioner to be aware of the many difficult ethical issues surrounding them every day.

When a nurse practitioner works in the arena of a doctor, there is an ethical obligation present to inform their patients about every aspect of care received. The nurse practitioner is morally obligated to teach their patient’s the risks and complications of various treatments, including medications and procedures that they may be ordered.

When a patient does not or refuses to follow the recommendations of the nurse practitioner, this professional is morally responsible to present the patient with the risks they may encounter. The nurse must outline for the patient what could transpire if they do not follow the recommendations to improve their health and wellness.

This nurse is ethically responsible for teaching and informing family members regarding the patient, if and when appropriate while protecting the patient’s privacy. HIPPA laws are a serious issue in every business, especially the healthcare industry. Gone are the days of leaving a paper trail in the documentation process using paper and pen. To avoid legal complications during signature signing the nurse practitioner must all do this correctly, or they could be responsible for a serious oversight.

The electronic age of computerized medical record keeping as been with us for several years. Computerizing medical data on every patient in the United States has an increased impact on the way a patient’s medical records are kept. In the next couple of years, a patient’s medical history will be available for any doctor to access anywhere and where ever the patient may need medical care. It is the responsibility of the nurse practitioner to do their part to protect this privileged information at all cost.

The nurse practitioner must document everything correctly, and they must keep in mind how critical their documentation matches how they are caring for their patient. Every exam, medication, treatment, conversation, refusals of treatment, patient remarks and much more needs to be charted into the patient’s electronic record. Errors in the documentation process can bring the nurse practitioner untold legal ramifications.

No one in the medical profession likes to admit error as this can ruin a good medical professional’s career, depending on the seriousness of the mistake. The nurse must practice caution, be alert and focused when treating their patients to avoid error in service to the patient.

Lastly, it is imperative the nurse practitioner practices medicine within the limits of their license and according to the rules and regulations of the state they practice. If they perform their job outside of these limits they could lose their license.

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