Ethical Dilemma in Health Care

Table of Contents


The development of codes of ethics resulted in certain competence expected from health care professionals in medical practice and research. An advanced nursing practitioner should be aware of ethical dilemmas that might occur on an everyday basis or in the process of conducting a study during which research demands might conflict with the rights of participants. Polit and Beck (2016) note that an international ethics code is required by some nurse ethicists for nursing studies, but most of the countries have their own codes established by medical professionals or the government. The purpose of this paper is to identify and describe an ethical dilemma topic, compose a research question related to it, and formulate a position on this dilemma discussing the advantages and disadvantages that technology might have on it.

Selection and Description of Ethical Dilemma

Health care practice provides a great number of real-life cases with certain moral issues, which can be utilized for discussion and reflection in order to get solutions or answers. Each case involves not only health care professionals such as physicians and nurses but also the patient’s family and social workers who also participate in solving the ethical dilemma. Some researchers state that the expertise to solve ethical dilemmas requires an understanding of dialogue, Socratic epistemology, and practical rationality (Stolper, Molewijk, & Widdershoven, 2016). In some cases, nurses witness trauma and suffering that their patients have to go through which leads to compassion fatigue. In this case, a nurse is stressed due to the firsthand experiences of pain and suffering of both patients and family members. Compassion fatigue is one of the many ethical issues that a nurse may face, and it can threaten ethical practice in the nursing profession as explored in this paper.

Ethical Dilemma Description and Impact

In the course of their work, nurses may have firsthand experience of the nature and intensity of suffering that patients and their family members go through, which may lead to compassion fatigue. According to Pembroke (2015), compassion fatigue is a “state of significant depletion or exhaustion of the nurse’s store of compassion, resulting from repeated activation over time of empathic and sympathetic responses to pain and distress in patients and in loved ones” (p. 120). Cumulatively, a nurse suffering from this kind of fatigue will be drained physically, mentally, and spiritually, thus affecting the effectiveness of executing one’s duties according to the set codes of ethics. Bao and Taliaferro (2015) argue that a nurse suffering from compassion fatigue will perform inadequately and score poorly in providing holistic care. The common characteristics of this condition include irritability, anger, dissatisfaction with work, lack of sympathy and empathy, impaired ability to make critical decisions concerning the care, and the development of posttraumatic stress disorders (PSTD) in prolonged cases (Lachman, 2016). As such, a nurse may not follow the set code of ethics that demands one to be compassionate, empathetic, sympathetic and make the right decisions even under difficult circumstances.

This form of ethical dilemma places patients at risk as nurses suffering from compassion fatigue may make mistakes with serious repercussions. For instance, Lachman (2016) highlights a case of a nurse who made medication errors and led to two deaths within one week. Additionally, patients will be impacted negatively because they may not experience the compassion and empathetic care that they should receive according to nursing ethics. Similarly, compassion fatigue affects the nursing practice negatively as nurses suffering from this problem may not observe the governing principles that dictate how individuals should function within the profession.

The research process on studying the effects of compassion fatigue on the nursing practice and the associated ethical issues may require an interview with nurses who have experienced the condition. However, such caregivers may not be willing to share their stories openly due to the guilt associated with some of the repercussions like errors leading to the death of patients. Ultimately, research on this subject may be hindered due to the lack of critical information from people suffering from compassion fatigue.

A Research Question

Compassion fatigue affects the way nurses carry out their duties, thus influencing the nursing profession negatively. Therefore, a research question may focus on highlighting the different strategies that nurses can use to deal with this problem in the workplace. This way, the outcomes of the research may be useful in addressing some of the ethical issues that nurses have to deal with in the course of their work. The research question, in this case, will be framed as follows: – What strategies can nurses use in dealing with compassion fatigue in the workplace?

Formulation of Dilemma Position

Given the nature of the work environment that nurses operate in, they will inevitably be exposed to traumatic cases, which may trigger compassion fatigue. Therefore, nurses should undergo training on coping strategies as a way of ensuring professionalism in the execution of their duties. One of the effective coping strategies is the principle of equal regard where nurses are expected to love and care for patients the way they do to themselves (Pembroke, 2015). This way, a nurse will not feel emotionally and spiritually drained. The fifth provision of the American Nursing Association (2015) states that the “nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety, preserve wholeness of character and integrity, maintain competence, and continue personal and professional growth” (p. 19). Secondly, nurses can employ the principle of equanimity whereby in the process of extending compassion to others, one is not emotionally overwhelmed (Pembroke, 2015). This aspect will create a balance in the way nurses respond to traumatic cases while observing professionalism. In the workplace, the management should create an environment where nurses can derive satisfaction from their work without external stressors like unstable leadership. The culture of caring in the workplace should also be cultivated to ensure that nurses get the necessary support while executing their duties.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology

Nurses can use technology as a strategy for coping with compassion disorder. The Internet has useful resources like meditation strategies that can be employed to clear one’s mind. Additionally, nurses can join online support groups where individuals share their experiences as a coping mechanism. On the other hand, nurses suffering from compassion fatigue may misuse social media due to associated symptoms like anger and irritability. Therefore, one may end up sharing patients’ information through social media as a way of venting, which is a negative coping mechanism.


Compassion fatigue creates an ethical dilemma in the nursing practice, as nurses are required to deal with traumatic cases while observing the set code of ethics. However, with the right coping strategies, both at the personal and organizational level, nurses can strike balance while executing their duties. The research question related to this ethical issue should focus on ways that nurses can use to cope with compassion fatigue. Additionally, technology should be used with caution to deal with this problem.


American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretative statements. Silver Spring, MD: ANA.

Bao, S., & Taliaferro, D. (2015). Compassion fatigue and psychological capital in nurses working in acute care settings. International Journal for Human Caring, 19(2), 35-40.

Lachman, V. (2016). Compassion fatigue as a threat to ethical practice: Identification, personal and workplace prevention/management strategies. Ethics, Law and Policy, 25(4), 275-278.

Pembroke, N. (2015). Contributions from Christian ethics and Buddhist philosophy to the management of compassion fatigue in nurses. Nursing and Health Sciences, 18(1), 120-124.

Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2016). Resource manual for nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice (10th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Stolper, M., Molewijk, B., & Widdershoven, G. (2016). Bioethics education in clinical settings: Theory and practice of the dilemma method of moral case deliberation. BMC Medical Ethics, 17(1), 45-55.

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with Online Academic Experts
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
Customer 452591, March 18th, 2021
Looks amazing!
Customer 453283, September 2nd, 2022
Very fast response and did a excellent job.
Customer 453201, May 31st, 2022
English 101
thank you for the excellent work
Customer 452883, October 29th, 2021
Health Care
The writer did not follow my choice of topic (Food/Water Insecurity, Hunger, & Poverty), the paper was instead written about Climate Change in Africa. However, the paper was still great and informative. Thank you!
Customer 452777, January 28th, 2022
Received before the deadline. Great job!
Customer 453027, January 15th, 2022
thank you so much
Customer 452749, June 10th, 2021
Business Studies
Thank you very much for a good job done and a quick turn around time.
Customer 452615, March 31st, 2021
Looks great and appreciate the help.
Customer 452675, April 26th, 2021
Nice work
Customer 453185, May 21st, 2022
thank you!
Customer 452947, October 21st, 2021
Social Work and Human Services
Great work I would love to continue working with this writer thought out the 11 week course.
Customer 452667, May 30th, 2021
Customer reviews in total
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
Customers referred by a friend
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat
Live ChatWhatsApp