ETHICAL DILEMMAS IN PRACTICE

One thing about the Urgent Care Centre is that sometimes it is extremely busy and at other times there’s nothing to do. As a volunteer, there’s only a limited number of roles which I am capable of doing. Some of the time I just play an observational role during my time there. I definitely find it worthwhile being able to experience the hospital environment and see how busy each of the members of the team are…it allows me to be able to properly appreciate the roles played by other members of the healthcare team besides doctors like nurses and practioners. During today’s shift there was a 3 month old baby who had been admitted which a lot of the doctors and nurses were concerned about so there was quite a few members of the team taking care of him. There was also a lot of out-of-hours GPs which were working in the department today, more than usual.

I always find it interesting being when I’m able to see scenarios I’ve read about in a real life example. I think one of the main thing to consider in an ethical scenario is the hospital or GMC guidelines which are relevant, the 4 principles of medical ethics and also the urgency of the situation. In the situation which I saw a sixteen year old girl came into the ward from the waiting room to ask whether she could charge her phone as she needed to ring her mum to tell her where she was. The nurses were concerned as the hospital guidelines said that they were not allowed to plug anything in which hadn’t been tested. They explained this to the girl and told her that this was the reason why sockets had been removed from the waiting room. It became clear that she was desperate so the nurses offered her to use the hospital telephone to make the call. However, she did not know her mum’s phone number so this wouldn’t have been possible. The hopsital’s guidelines were important to consider in this example, but in this situation allowing her to charge her phone wouldn’t have any negative consequences so the nurses agreed to let her to plug it in for 5 minutes so she condo quickly make the call.

Confidentiality is clearly a big issue in the hospital setting. Today I experienced a situation in which a teenage boy was waiting in the waiting room for his appointment with the out-of-hours GP. He had come with two of his friends who came into the ward to find out how much longer the wait would be. Despite the fact that they had accompanied him to the hospital, it would not be right to assume that they knew what his problem was, or that he would be happy for them to know. Coincidentally, as the boy’s friends’ came to ask, the GP made a phone call to discuss the boy’s condition with another nurse. When she answered the phone repeated the name in order to assure that had the right patient. This was heard by the two friends who then tried to listen in to the conversation. The nurse who was tending to the friends’ picked up on this and immediately sent them outside in order to prevent them from hearing any confidential information. This made me reflect on the care that needed to be taken when even mentioning names in the hospital as anybody could be walking past who could recognise the name.

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