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Rationing health care is a critical ethical issue whereby certain groups of people do not get care while others receive reliable and ready care. Rationing care is dependent on the severity of a condition; for instance, an individual in a devastating or traumatizing condition would receive faster and reliable care than one who only has minor problems (Finkelman & Kenner, 2016). An example of care rationing especially in the medical sector is organ transplantation. Not all patients would have the privilege of getting organ donations. Access to organs depends on the condition and well-being of a patient. Therefore, care rationing is a vital ethical issue that nurses must put into serious consideration before making any moral decision.
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The two core ethical principles that relate to rationing care include justice and beneficence. First, justice is a fundamental moral pillar that involves treating people in a fair manner without prejudice or discrimination (Finkelman & Kenner, 2016). It entails identifying persons who need care so that accessibility can be enhanced. Justice helps care providers to direct services to the most vulnerable people to boost their health. People who are in proper condition do not necessarily need support; hence, it would be unjust for the practitioners to provide care to them. The principle of justice dictates how patients should receive care in the hospitals. Numerous allegations and complaints have often risen among patients who fail to receive care when they actually deserved it. Thus, justice applies to care rationing because it helps in the provision of care to patients fairly. For instance, justice enables practitioners to provide more attention and services to patients in critical conditions to aid faster recovery (Schubert et al., 2013). A person who is about to die due to lack of a liver would have the first access to a liver transplant to save the life. Thus, justice ensures that rationing care is for the benefit of the most disadvantaged people or individuals.
The final principle that applies to care rationing is beneficence. Beneficence requires practitioners to do good when providing care to patients (Finkelman & Kenner, 2016). The core objective of a care giver is to provide the best care to patients to promote faster recovery. Practitioners must care for patients physically by providing the relevant treatments to them without causing any potential harm or putting the life of a patient at risk. Besides, the principle indicates that it is the sole responsibility of a physician to know and understand both the needs and condition of a patient so that he can provide the appropriate support. Practitioners must always promote the well-being of the patients and not do anything that might be dangerous or harmful to the patient. Beneficence relates heavily with care rationing. Doing good requires a physician to ration care based on the availability of resources and the severity of a condition. For instance, it would be right if a practitioner provides the limited care to a suffering patient compared to one with a slight headache. Prioritizing patients with chronic and severe conditions is a good practice that nurses must uphold (Papastavrou, Andreou & Efstathiou, 2014). However, a lot of harm may occur if there is no care rationing since those who need to the resources would not have adequate access. Hence, beneficence or doing good applies to care rationing by enabling medical practitioners to prioritize the most disadvantaged people during care provision.
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Significance to Nursing-Patient Care
Justice and beneficence are vital principles that are essential for nurses during their provision of care to patients. Justice enables a nurse to make the best and suitable decision when rationing care (Brody, 2012). For instance, the practitioner would know how to ration the services that they offer to patients fairly. Besides, beneficence is significant in the nursing-patient care since it enables nurses to do good when prioritizing or rationing care to patients. The application of the principles to care rationing enhances the nursing-patient care.
It is evident that care rationing is a significant ethical issue that medical practitioners must put into consideration to ensure proper access to care among patients. Care rationing focus on providing treatment or medical services to those who need it most to improve their health status. The core principles that govern care rationing include justice and beneficence, and they promote the nursing-patient care.
- Brody, H. (2012). From an ethics of rationing to an ethics of waste avoidance. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(21), 1949-1951.
- Finkelman, A. W., & Kenner, C. (2016). Professional nursing concepts: Competencies for quality leadership. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
- Papastavrou, E., Andreou, P., & Efstathiou, G. (2014). Rationing of nursing care and nurse–patient outcomes: a systematic review of quantitative studies. The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 29(1), 3-25.
- Schubert, M., Ausserhofer, D., Desmedt, M., Schwendimann, R., Lesaffre, E., Li, B., & De Geest, S. (2013). Levels and correlates of implicit rationing of nursing care in Swiss acute care hospitals—a cross sectional study. International journal of nursing studies, 50(2), 230-239.