Ethical Standards of Care
Module 5 Activity: Transition to a Triage Environment
As emergency management is becoming more professionalized, a professional code of ethics which will dictate how the profession handles certain moral dilemmas is necessary. The main purpose of a code of ethics is to help professionals do what is morally right in any situation where the answer may not always be apparent. From your readings and research, apply the normal ethical standards of care to a disaster and how these considerations affect practice of care. Include the process of triage and the normal operations of care. Explain the rationale and the transition from normal care to a triage environment
***Btw I am a respiratory therapist. I am not a nurse. This course is made up of all registered respiratory therapist getting their Bachelor's degree. No need to "breakdown" any common medical terms. Please do not mention anything about being a nurse. Let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!
Ethical Standards of Care
Ethical standards of care entail the application of central principles of bioethics to medical practice and making medical decisions. It provides a multidisciplinary lens for viewing complex health outcomes and making decisions regarding a particular course of action. They include beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, and respect for patients' autonomy. Careful planning processes and considerations of the ethical principles while attending to emergencies and disasters in long-term facilities will help healthcare professionals respond effectively to crises.
Ethical dilemmas include the conflict in choosing between the merits and costs and when there is conflict arising from two or more moral principles. To resolve this, professional knowledge, skills, and experience are necessary to adopt the right approach to resolve the dilemma and make a prompt ethical decision. For better future patient outcomes, interventions implemented should be based upon the ethical principles of healthcare practice.
Respect for a patient's autonomy refers to the ability to respect the patient's or their significant other's ability to make decisions about their health and body issues. The patient can make this decision if competent enough and if not due to severe illnesses or below age, their family members can be involved. However, the patient may make wrong decisions, such as refusing treatment or choosing ineffective therapy plans. Despite healthcare professionals' dedicated need to preserve the patient's wellbeing, we should allow their choices to take charge since it is a part of accepting and respecting the principle of autonomy.
Informed consent is necessary for emergencies and disasters. Enormous and risky medical decisions are made. Therefore, patients should be involved in making these decisions through informed consent to be accountable for any undesirable outcomes that may occur instead of the healthcare workers bearing the consequences. The patient's decisions or family members should be free from the compulsion of any form (Haddad & Geiger, 2021). The patient or the family member should be competent enough to understand the given information. It should be in a suitable format that the participant can understand and comprehend. Beneficence is the moral responsibility of performing acts that ensure patient wellbeing and maximize benefit. Non-maleficence is the duty not to cause harm through the implementation of interventions. Justice in emergency management involves treating the most vulnerable fairly with respect and dignity.
Ethical considerations while attending o emergency cases have both positive and negative effects on the practice of care. It allows healthcare workers to offer care to patients with compassion, dignity, and worth. The primary commitment is the patient and is the central concern while providing care. Significantly, the patient's rights are advocated for and protected, ensuring patient safety (Haddad & Geiger, 2021). Involving patients in care through autonomy and informed consent ensures better health outcomes since they have the right to refrain from life-threatening procedures and treatments that may produce adverse effects on their health.
However, patients may make decisions that put their lives at risk. Decisions such as refusal of treatment, surgery, and other interventions such as non-resuscitate orders, regardless of their benefits, may be life-threatening and produce undesirable patient outcomes. These decisions conflict with healthcare workers' care guidelines and suggestions to provide positive health outcomes. Despite this, the healthcare workers must respect patients' decisions in promoting autonomy.
Process of Triage
Triaging is the process of assessing the severity of the patient. Severe emergencies are prioritized, and medical care is offered to them first. The provided medical care includes life-saving interventions such as resuscitation and intubation. Other symptoms prioritized are choking, severe bleeding, difficulty breathing, poisoning, and gasping. The second step is registration which lets the emergency department staff gather patient information for documentation and obtain consent for treatment.
It is also necessary to carry out diagnostic procedures (Wolf et al., 2018). Thirdly, treatment is offered to every patient attending the emergency department based on their health needs. Reevaluation of the patient's condition is then done, which may be after receiving test results from the laboratory to give additional insight into the treatment approach. Lastly, discharge is instituted after determining whether the patient is fit for discharge or admission.
Transitioning Patient from Normal Care to Triage
Transitions of care involve the various points where a patient is transferred to, returned to, and the multiple locations where a patient contacts the health care personnel to receive treatment. Health care workers do transition a patient from standard care to triaging area. The main aim is to improve the patient care aspect and improve approaches to management. Also, transitioning may follow after determining the patient's illness from a laboratory report or after worsening the patient's condition for reevaluation at the emergency room in the triage area to rule out the best approaches to treatment and stabilization of the patient. It may also be due to ensuring stabilization and preparation of the patient before transfer to another hospital and choosing the appropriate mode of transport, which may be by land or air transport.
Haddad, L., & Geiger, R. (2021). Nursing Ethical Considerations. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526054/.
Wolf, L. A., Delao, A. M., Perhats, C., Moon, M. D., & Zavotsky, K. E. (2018). Triaging the emergency department, not the patient: United States emergency nurses’ experience of the triage process. Journal of emergency nursing, 44(3), 258-266.
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