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Park, M. (2009). Ethical issues in nursing practice. Journal of Nursing Law, 13(3), 68-77. doi:10.1891/1073-7472.13.3.68

Essay Prompt: Identify primary areas for legal and ethical issues faced by oncology nurses in this study (Park, 2009), and strategies they may have developed to work with those ethical issues.

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Introduction:
The study by Park (2009) explores the ethical issues faced by oncology nurses and the strategies they may have developed to address these issues. In this essay prompt, we will identify the primary areas for legal and ethical issues discussed in the study and discuss strategies that nurses may have employed to navigate these challenges.

Answer:
In the study by Park (2009), the primary areas for legal and ethical issues faced by oncology nurses are identified as patient autonomy, confidentiality, and end-of-life care. These areas pose significant ethical dilemmas for nurses as they navigate the complex landscape of cancer care.

Firstly, patient autonomy emerges as a critical ethical issue faced by oncology nurses. Due to the nature of cancer treatment, patients often face difficult decisions regarding their healthcare options, including treatment choices and participation in clinical trials. Nurses must balance the need to respect patient autonomy and independence while also providing appropriate guidance and support. This challenge may involve engaging in comprehensive patient education, discussing the potential risks and benefits of treatment options, and ensuring that patients have access to necessary information to make informed choices.

Secondly, the issue of confidentiality arises as a concern for oncology nurses. Patient health information is highly sensitive, and maintaining patient privacy is crucial for building trust and ensuring ethical practice. In the context of cancer care, nurses may encounter situations where there is a need to share patient information with the multidisciplinary healthcare team. Ethical issues arise when balancing the need to provide effective and coordinated care while respecting patient confidentiality. Nurses must develop strategies such as adhering to strict privacy protocols, obtaining patient consent for information sharing, and utilizing secure electronic medical record systems to protect patient privacy.

Lastly, end-of-life care presents complex ethical issues for oncology nurses. Providing care and support to patients with terminal cancer and their families requires sensitivity, empathy, and a deep understanding of the principles of palliative and hospice care. Nurses may face dilemmas related to pain management, withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments, and honoring the patient’s wishes regarding the dying process. Strategies nurses may employ in these situations include open communication with patients and families, providing emotional support, advocating for the patient’s preferences, and collaborating with the interdisciplinary team to ensure comprehensive end-of-life care.

In conclusion, the study by Park (2009) highlights the primary areas for legal and ethical issues faced by oncology nurses as patient autonomy, confidentiality, and end-of-life care. Nurses may employ various strategies, such as patient education, maintaining confidentiality protocols, and providing compassionate care, to address these ethical challenges. Understanding these issues and developing appropriate strategies are essential for oncology nurses to uphold ethical standards while providing optimal care to their patients.

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