In most times decision making on the basis of an individual’s personal, religious as well as cultural values tend to conflict especially in the issue of ethics. This therefore makes it important for decisions to be made only after all considerations have been critically put in place (Blendon, 2002). In this scenario, one major ethical value that needs to be put in place is that of confidentiality, respect as well as trust. In the case of Steven, the fact that he told the professional meant that he broke the confidentiality as well as the trust that existed between him and Bert.
Bert is making his decision of taking away his life on the basis of his personal values whereby he feels that he would rather die than live a life without friends and family. The religious value that do not allow for one to commit suicide would be a consideration for both Bert and Steven, a reason why Steven might have found it important to talk to the professional despite the fact that he did not the professional to talk to any one about it. Religious values do not appear to have any influence on Bert, a reason why he openly keeps on talking about ending his own life.
The professional is in this case placed in a tight corner mainly because he or she needs to weigh out her next action on the basis of her professional ethics, personal, religious as well as cultural values. As an ethical principle, the professional needs to always keep patients’ information confidential and should always ensure that the relationship between her and her clients is based on trust (Ebright et al., 2003). If in this case the professional was make decisions based on this values then it would mean that she should keep quite about her discovery.
Keeping quite will not just mean that she remains confident and trustworthy to Bert but to Steve as well. On the other hand Nurses and other medical professionals have a duty to ensure that the patient is safe as well as to protect life (Blendon, 2002). A major ethical issue may also arise in the situation whereby the professional is required to respect the decisions of her patient. Culturally and religiously, the professional may feel that she has a duty to disclose Bert’s intentions to her seniors as she might find the intentions wrong and those that may need to be stopped. The professional may also feel that she has a duty to protect the life of her patients which would entail protecting the life of Bert by taking an action that will ensure that he does not kill himself (Potter et al., 2005).
The decision made by each of the individuals in this case is likely to result to a number of consequences. If the professional in this case remains silent, then it would mean that Bert is likely to take his life, a situation that could be prevented if the his intentions were known. On a personal and even religious issue, Steve as well as he professional would be faced with a lot of guilt or the feeling that they would have changed the situation. If the professional decides to let her seniors know of Bert’s intentions, then the trust and confidentiality that exists between her and Steve would be broken while at the same time, an action will be taken to ensure that Bert does not commit suicide. One such action would for example be providing counseling as a form of therapy for Bert.
Blendon, R., DesRoches, C., Brodie, M., Benson, J., et al. (2002). Views of practicing physicians and the public on medical errors. The New England Journal of Medicine. 347(24): 1933-1940.
Ebright, P. Patterson, E. Chalko, B. & Render, M. (2003). Understanding the Complexity of Registered Nurse Work in Acute Care Settings. JONA, 33(22): 630-638.
Potter, P.Wolf, L. Boxerman, S. Grayson, D. Sledge, J. & Dunagan, C. (2005). Understanding the Cognitive Work of Nursing in the Acute Care Environment. JONA, 35: 327-335.