Reflective practice

Dealing with ethical and moral dilemmas: tips for students

How to proceed when a patient refuses treatment or you experience moral distress

How to proceed when a patient refuses recommended treatment or you experience moral distress

As nursing students, we sometimes find ourselves in challenging situations that present ethical problems.

As a result, we may experience issues such as moral unpreparedness or moral distress (see box). One such situation is when patients refuse care or treatment that nurses and others believe they need .

‘We felt like we were letting her down’

This was the case with Mrs Morris (not her real name), a 77-year-old patient admitted from home to an orthopaedic ward after a fall. An X-ray confirmed that she had fractured her ribs and forearm. She was clearly in pain.

At handover, it was reported

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