I. Spirituality in treating Patients in Critical conditions
Ethics refers to a set of moral principles that govern well established standards of right and wrong that dictate things that people should do. When making medical and health care decisions, ethics plays a major role in the application of non-maleficence, beneficence, health maximization, efficiency, respect for autonomy, justice, and, most importantly, proportionality. Further, healthcare practitioners are usually encouraged to adhere to similar ethical guidance when attending to patients in critical conditions. In addition, critical illnesses are thought to present ethical dilemmas to nurses and ethical interventions are essential in addressing them. Often, patients who are subjected to end-of-life care or critically ill situations are afraid and feel isolated or lonely. As such, it is essential for nurses and clinicians to provide the best care for these patients based on the ethical principles in healthcare. More importantly, clinicians are encouraged to evaluate cognitive abilities of patients and involve the patient’s family when making decisions regarding treatment to the critically ill patient. Therefore, the moral issues involves when according care to critically ill patients, benefits, laws, touchstones, and regulations governing essential care, and future research are evaluated and presented herein.
II. Moral issues in the treatment of critically ill patients
The primary ethical considerations when handling critically ill patients in healthcare include respect of patient’s autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and distributive justice. Further, caring for patients in critical situations needs strict adherence to ethical principles related to respect of patient’s privacy and nonmaleficence (Kisorio & Langley, 2016). More importantly, it is believed that each patient in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is regarded unique and how they respond to various treatments is dictated by several elements.
Additionally, when a patient fails to make decisions, the care team in the ICU department is responsible for finding an individual who is in pole position to translate the wishes and desires of the patient. Besides, adults who can make decisions independently are entitled to reasonable and well informed refusals in medical care (Shinall & Oscar, 2015). Nonetheless, careful evaluation is needed when addressing dilemmas in end-of-life care as well as basic knowledge of ethical principles.
A. Respect of patient’s autonomy
While enhancing a patient’s health, nurses are encouraged to be responsible in giving respect to patient’s autonomy. Autonomy plays a crucial role in patient and family centered decisions. Besides, respecting a patient’s autonomy indicates acknowledging that critically ill patients who have the ability to make decisions independently have the right to make decisions based on the care they wish to receive.
In addition, respect for autonomy involves safeguarding privacy, veracity, and confidentiality required to obtain informed consent regarding a patient’s health and care. As such, nurses respect patient autonomy through presenting necessary and meaningful information and encouraging them to take part in various processes of making decisions (Peteet, 2020). Also, respect for autonomy is essential in healthcare since it empowers patients to feel confident and in control of making informed health decisions.
In essence, the principle of nonmaleficence dictates that every medical action taken should be weighed against the benefits, risks, and consequences it presents when giving treatment to patients. Further, the principle of nonmaleficence requires performing tasks that correspond to a person’s training and competence level.
In healthcare, nonmaleficence means that clinicians and health practitioners have no right to do intentional harm to patients. Besides, nurses are required to standard of care with minimal risks since this move translates to medical and health competence (Kisorio & Langley, 2016). For instance, blocking a patient from consuming harmful medication is a form of nonmaleficence.
III. Usefulness of Spirituality when treating critically ill patients
A. Reduction in stress and depression
When treating patients who are deemed critically ill, the spirituality expressed during this process has crucial benefits. Patient-centered care in nursing helps patients cope with stress and depression. In essence, spiritual support enhances better patient wellbeing and attracts happiness and hope to the patient. More importantly, patients become stress-free when subjected to the best treatment and care and begin to slowly adapt to normal life (Kisorio & Langley, 2016). Also, depression begins to fade away among patients who are in Intensive Care Unit when nurses and health practitioners express spirituality in their medical actions.
B. Improving the functioning of the immune system
The immune system refers to various biological processes that shield humans or an organism from illnesses. Further, the immune system safeguards our body from virus, bacteria, and foreign bodies attack. As such, spirituality when treating critically ill patients plays a major role in improving the functioning of the immune system.
For instance, when patients are offered whole foods, enough sleep, stay connected, and avoid smoking, their immune system takes shape. The immune system depends on whole foods with plenty of nutrients in order to function well. Also, prioritizing sleep for patients helps in resetting and restoring the body.
IV. Laws, touchstones, and regulations in the Treatment of critically ill patients
A. End-of-life issues
The challenges experienced by dying patients include depression, physical pain, hopelessness, intense emotions, and loss of dignity. Further, the main issue in end-of-life decisions is making ethical decision whether to resuscitate the patient or continue offering life-sustaining treatments. Nonetheless, broken communication and compromised patient autonomy are considered the ethical issues in end of life care.
The Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying Patients (2014) and End of Life Care for Adults (2017) are the common laws, touchstones, and regulations governing treatment of dying patients. These regulations define instances of stopping treatment, advance directives, substitute decision making for adults, and, most importantly, emergency medical treatment accorded to critically ill patients (Shepperd et al., 2021). Also, these laws and regulations suggest reliable, humane, and effective caregiving when end of life is deemed inevitable.
B. Patient and human rights issues
The legal basis and issues in critical care nursing includes assault, trespass, negligence, and battery. Further, patient and human rights issues forms a critical structure in healthcare practice which must be adhered to. Additionally, patient rights are vital in a hospital setting and nurses have moral obligation to respect them.
On the other hand, critical cares interventions are structured to aid patients survive life-threatening conditions. Furthermore, the primary goal of critical care is to enable a patient live in meaningful environment (Chan et al., 2016). Besides, critical care is usually witness in Intensive Care Unit which gives 24-hour care to dying patients. Quality, service improvement, communication, and health, safety, and security are considered the principles of critical care nursing.
The laws and legal parameters for patient rights include consent, patient competence, emergency treatment, right to refuse treatment, confidentiality, and continuity of care. Besides, these issues need to be addressed to avoid violation of patient rights.
V. Conclusion and Future Research
In conclusion, critical illnesses are thought to present ethical dilemmas to nurses and ethical interventions are essential in addressing them. Often, patients who are subjected to end-of-life care or critically ill situations are afraid and feel isolated or lonely. As such, it is essential for nurses and clinicians to provide the best care for these patients based on the ethical principles in healthcare (Chan et al., 2016). Nurses respect patient autonomy through presenting necessary and meaningful information and encouraging them to take part in various processes of making decisions. Besides, nurses are required to standard of care with minimal risks since this move translates to medical and health competence. Clinicians are encouraged to evaluate cognitive abilities of patients and involve the patient’s family when making decisions regarding treatment to the critically ill patient.
B. Future Research
In essence, future research studies should focus on stating the clinical characteristics and outcomes of critically ill patients. Further future research should evaluate the therapeutic strategies needed for critically ill patients. As such, these studies will help in future healthcare planning as well as addressing the neglected lines of research in improving care for the dying patients.
Chan, J.R., Webster, J., & Bowers, A. (2016). End-Of-Life care pathways for improving outcomes in caring for the dying. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Kisorio, C.L., & Langley, C.G. (2016). End-Of-Life Care in Intensive Care Unit: Family Experiences. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing 35, 57-65.
Peteet, J. (2020). Spirituality/Religion and End-Of-Life Care. Handbook of Spirituality, Religion, and Mental Health, 201-217.
Shepperd, S., Bradley, G.C.D., Straus, E.S., & Wee, B. (2021). Hospital at Home: Home-Based End-Of-Life Care. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Shinall, C.M., & Oscar, D.G. (2015). Effect of Religion on End-Of-Life Care among Trauma Patients. Journal of Religion and Health 54(3), 977-983.