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This article will examine some of the ethical and legal issues correctional nurses must address in their practice. Fidelity (remaining faithful to one’s commitment) These principles serve as a guide to the nurse in making ethical decisions.
Ethical Concerns For the nurse in a traditional medical setting, ethical decisions occur occasionally and at times the nurse may face ethical dilemmas. The correctional nurse can find support for ethical decisions by referring to the American Nurses Association’s code of ethics.
Inmates have several ways to access health care, such as by submitting a request slip or form.
Another way is through oral communication, for example, by telling a correctional officer of a need to be seen by medical, or mentioning a health concern to the nurse during medication administration.
Participation in execution is inconsistent with nursing values.
Finally, professional practice is an area that can create ethical concerns for correctional nurses.
Regardless of the method, the nurse has a legal and ethical obligation to respond to the request for care.
The correctional nurse is in a unique position to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of patient care.
Correctional nursing allows the nurse to practice the essence of nursing while recognizing that all patients have intrinsic value.
Achieving and staying true to professional nursing values while practicing in the correctional setting can create a unique set of ethical, legal and professional issues for the nurse.
Based on the information provided, the nurse must determine the type and level of nursing intervention required, and then implement an action.
The nurse may determine that the patients’ health needs can be managed within his or her scope of practice, or determine that a higher level of care is needed and refer the patient to a midlevel provider or physician, or refer for transfer to a health facility that can provide the care that is needed.
It is always appropriate for the nurse to follow up to evaluate the inmate’s response to the intervention.