Healthcare providers worldwide have said that covid-19 disease does not discriminate, but judging from the disproportionate infection rates among the minority groups, this assertion is questionable. There have been stark racial inequalities in Covid-19 infections and deaths, particularly among the minority groups. These disparities are not new and have been documented for many decades, reflecting the longstanding structural and systematic inequities rooted in racism and discrimination. Statistics show that 35% of patients with critical with covid 19 are from minority black, Asians, and Latinos (Efrat Shadmi, Yingyao Chen, Sara Williams, 2021). According to the authors, this number is high considering that they constitute only a tiny percentage of the US population. Therefore, these situations have brought forth ethical issues across nursing roles, prompting them to apply the social justice principle to address them. Nurses holistic training and equity adherence to the ethical principles of nursing makes them ideally suited as social justice personnel in solving these problems, as expounded more by this paper.
One issue relates to ensuring fair distribution of scarce resources. During the pandemic, the demands for resources increased, with healthcare providers’ urged to prioritize some groups and cases that contributed to the inequalities in providing treatment (Gallagher, 2020). According to Gallagher, the ethics of allocating limited resources such as beds in ICU and ventilators is crucial in ensuring that all patients are treated fairly and equally. One vital factor that has been instrumental in accounting for the high disproportionate rates and death among the minorities is ventilators. At the pandemic’s peak, cities and states had shortages of ventilators, with some states developing guidelines on how health care providers must allocate them. This allocation shows many minority groups missed on this crucial instrument as many were denied. Therefore, nurses must use social justice to ensure that only patients in critical conditions are given ventilators and ICU beds regardless of their race. They must also provide equal access to care without any preferential treatment, as this has also contributed to high infection rates.
People need to get equal and fair access to hospitalization. The code of ethics mandates nurses to provide treatment. A person’s race and ethnicity must not determine who gets admitted from covid-19 complications but rather on the severity of the disease. Also, there are differences in testing rates, with minority groups having the lowest rates. Conducting the covid-19 test for all individuals equally and fairly will lower infection rates. The nurses can do this through mobilization. This mobilization is because minority groups are more likely to delay testing due to other socioeconomic factors and only get the test done when the disease is in severe conditions. By mobilizing such testing, the nurses will ensure fairness in treatments and hospitalization while ensuring that social justice is met.
The nurses should also set aside any prejudice and treat all patients with respect regardless of their race, ethnicity, or even socioeconomic status. They must provide safe and equal care for all patients and communities (ANA, 2015). They are supposed to provide nursing services without prejudice and opinions, mainly when the call is between life and death. There have been disproportionate infection rates among the minorities because they have been mistreated with prejudice. They do not get the required hospitalization care based on the seriousness of infections. The same bias has been observed in vaccination. Therefore, Nurses should oversee that all people get vaccinated against Covid-19 disease. However, it has been shown that minority groups have the lowest probability of getting vaccinated. They have been receiving minor shares of vaccines that are not proportionate to the infection rates. Research has shown that unvaccinated people are at higher risk of infection and death. Thus, when the majority of people who are not vaccinated are the minority, the disproportionate rate of infections is inevitable. 7.6% of black people and 8.7% Hispanic groups have received the dose as of December 2021, despite these two groups comprising a 13% and 18% of the population of the US, respectively (Efrat Shadmi, Yingyao Chen, Sara Williams, 2021). According to the authors, this unequal distribution of vaccines accounts for the high infections rates among the minorities, which is sad.
According to socio justice, there must be fair and equitable distribution of both burdens and benefits in the society, particularly when the whole population is involved. Therefore, despite a patient socioeconomic status and health care market needs, nurses can implement this principle to ensure that minority groups do not suffer, as has been the case. A nurse’s decisions regarding which patient to attend to must be unbiased but provided depending on the severity of the disease.
It’s under the social justice principle, which advocates protecting individual rights against racial injustices. Racial injustice is the major contributor to the disproportionate infection rates among minorities. Race has been vital in determining the people who get hospitalized, get tested, or are admitted to ICU. Nurses must reject policies that seek preferentially; treatment to a specific group over the other ensures that individuals’ human rights are protected (Smith, 2020). They must be at the forefront of identifying risks due to violations of patients’ rights. They must offer care to people regardless of their race which must be person-centered, which has not been previously. The minority groups have suffered from not choosing the proper treatment, which also accounts for the high infection rates. It is, therefore, a nurse’s moral obligation to ensure that patients’ rights are withheld while also respecting their personal decision, such as communicating with their families about their health situation. They must balance work obligations of the business of making while withholding patients’ rights. Ensuring that patients’ rights are maintained will help address the issue of racial discrimination in providing treatment.
The disparities seen during the pandemic of disproportionate infection rates among the minority groups are situations that nurses can address by applying the social justice code of ethics. Nurses can ensure that individual rights are protected regardless of their ethnicity and socioeconomic status in a fair and equal manner while meeting their work obligations. They can also uphold the ethical principle of allocating scarce resources fairly and equitably, such as providing ventilators to patients, testing of Covid-19, and hospitalization. Under the social justice code of ethics, nurses must treat all patients with fairness and without prejudice, particularly in vaccines distribution and vaccination. Implementing these social justice principles will be vital in addressing the disproportionate infection rates among minority groups.
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