Challenging Ethical Situation
When I was a student nurse, I remember I have a client Mrs. A who was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was not good. Nurse B told me not to disclose anything about the client’s diagnosis yet because the daughter does not want her mother to know about it, and her family does not want her to worry and not give up. And told me if Mrs. A asks about her diagnosis, just tell her “she will get better”.
I am confused, bothered and there are a lot of questions that come to my mind on that situation. I grew up in a Christian family and we are taught that we should be honest in our words, actions, thoughts and wants and it is also taught at school but in this situation, it felt I didn’t make it right. And I ask myself, am I it doing the right thing and if I tell the truth am I the right person to tell about it. It was really hard for me to communicate, I can’t look at Mrs. A directly, and I felt like I am always in a hurry when I speak with her because I am hiding something from her that she really needs to know.
The client seems to have a very positive outlook in life and even verbalized that she is happy she will get better and can spend more quality time with her family and can see her future grandchildren. Hearing those words from her makes me want to cry, I really felt guilty. And I remember the nurse assigned felt the same, she limits her time with the client perhaps to avoid the honest conversation. I understand the daughter feeling and the nurse because it was really hard not disclose the information to Mrs. A because we violate the autonomy, veracity and giving Mrs. A a false hope that she will get better.
When I look back to what I have done, declaring the truth to Mrs. A should be the right thing do, I know it is hard but Mrs. A deserves the truth. Mrs. A has the right to be informed about her diagnosis and prognosis, it is hard but I believe it can improve communication. If I will experience the same situation in the future, I will always think about putting myself in the patient’s place. First, with the physician I will discuss the diagnosis with patient and family. Family members should not be told about the diagnosis first before patient is told.