Accountability promotes the best interests of patients so I modified the procedure other nurses did on that patient. In putting the patient in dayroom for feeding, several violations of privacy and human dignity were noted such as exposure of one’s body, perceived invasion of privacy, inadequate participation in decision making, and perceived humiliation. It is evident that these violations occurred because the patient felt embarrassment on the perceived idea that others might see her in feeding (a clear indication of breach in privacy and human dignity). Meanwhile, privacy and human dignity are very important functions and determinant of human behavior.
With this in mind, I became curious of why did a very cooperative patient suddenly refused her treatment. I made further assessments and determined that this behavior was linked to violation of human dignity. Watson (2008) delineates steps in attending to the privacy and human dignity needs of patients, which includes: Maintaining personal autonomy which preserves uniqueness of human being. Allowing the patient to verbalize emotional and safety concerns to protect them from stress and strains of the environment. Engaging the patient in self-affirmation and reflection to enable them to pause, reflect, explore and integrate feelings and experiences.
This step also promotes spiritual and creative-meditative activities that bring meaning to one’s life. Engaging in limited and protective, intimate communication. This step preserves confidentiality of information and sets boundaries in a nurse-patient relationship. In addition, the cultural beliefs of a person are also important in preserving human dignity in nursing. For example, this patient probably refused feeding because foods served to her is forbidden in their cultural tradition. Nurses may not know this unless they conducted a comprehensive assessment of the patient. Today, we are confronted with several issues affecting preservation of human dignity.
Among these issues were euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, malnutrition, assisted nutrition and hydration, persistent vegetative states and post coma unresponsiveness, stigmatism, abortions, health services accessibility, unresponsive human need legislation, and national health care system (Feldman, 2008, p. 281). Regardless of the patient’s reason for making it unable to give decisions, nurses should still apply the doctrine of human dignity to make participative ethical decisions on what should be one for the patient.
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