Ethical Issues in the Health Sector
Research is a very important function in improving health standards. This is because it helps in providing new knowledge that is used in the development of innovative ways of treating diseases. Behavioural research particularly helps in studying the behaviour of patients as well as medical practitioners. As such, new effective methods of handling patients are developed. However, health research is associated with various risks and ethical issues. It is therefore important that those carrying out the research be aware of the risks involved and ethical standards that they ought to adhere to. The risks and the ethical issues are mostly related to participants whereby they need to be informed of the risks involved. (Cash &World Health Organization, 2009).
Ethical Issues in the Study
There are various ethical issues involved in the study. First there will be conflict of interest whereby nurses might be tempted to over-stretch themselves in order that they make more money. This is opposed to the research objectives of determining their limit and coordination abilities. This is because some may even try to hide their ineffectiveness so that they can continue to work for more hours and make more money. Secondly, the participants’ informed consent was not obtained. The patients and the nurses need to be provided with sufficient information that they can comprehend and make informed decision. Thirdly, there is lack of respect for human dignity, as the patients are treated as objects of research. Carrying out research without informing the patients of what is to be done on them amounts to lack of respect. Fourthly, the principle of nonmaleficence was not adhered to, because the patients are likely to be harmed by fatigued nurses during the research. Therefore, the research has not taken measures to minimize the risks. (Polit & Beck, 2007).
Recommendations of an IRB Reviewer
As an IRB reviewer, I would not allow the research to go on as described because of the following reasons. First, there are other less risky ways in which the research can be carried out as opposed to the way it is currently described. Secondly, the risks involved have not been explained to the participants so that their consent is obtained. Thirdly, there are no measures put up to prevent the nurses from straining in an attempt to make more money (Polit & Beck, 2007).
Alternative Ways of Ethically Carrying Out the Research
There are ways in which the study can be conducted to answer the research question without breaching the ethical standards. First, the nurses working for more than eight hours should be assigned to other nurses who will be working for not more than eight hours. The assigned nurse will be monitoring the actions of her assignee to ensure that wrong actions are not carried out on the patients but are only recorded when they are about to happen. For example if the nurse has forgotten to put on gloves while going to attend to a patient, the assigned nurse will just record the mistake by reminding the nurse instead of leaving her to use bare hands (Kimmel, 2007).
Secondly, the experiment can be restricted to less vulnerable patients, for instance those who have minor health conditions such as minor burns and not those who are unconscious. This is according to the principle of nonmaleffience, which demands that the harm to a patient be minimized. Thirdly, the informed consent of the participants should be obtained. This can be done through a consent form, which will have detailed information on the purpose of the research, the benefits, and the hazards related to participation. In addition, the capacity of the participant should be determined and verified (Polit & Beck, 2007). Lastly, the nurses should be closely monitored so that when they are overwhelmed by fatigue, they can be allowed to go and rest. This will prevent the nurses from struggling to work for more hours just to make more money (Kimmel, 2007).
Risks and Benefits to Be Outlined in the Consent Form
Some of the risks associated with this research include: the nurse can get infected by the patient if he/she does not use protective measures due to fatigue. Secondly, the patients can be given wrong medication when the coordination level of the patient goes low. The researcher has a professional duty of beneficence to inform the participants of the risks involved. The benefits of this research include first, the success of this research will provide the management with the right information on how to determine the working hours of the nurses. This ensures that they effectively attend to patients. Secondly, the study will help in reducing the risks associated with nursing both to the nurses and the patients (Lo, 2009).
Research is important in developing new ways of improving health standards. However, ethical standards are equally important as they ensure that those involved are not harmed either psychologically or physically and that their rights are respected as well. Therefore, the researcher need to be informed of all the ethical issues pertaining to the research at hand and ensure that they are addressed effectively before going ahead with the research. The rights include rights to protection from deception and to informed consent. The ethical issues may be legal requirements or other ethical guidelines. In addition promises to participants and other relevant parties must be honoured.
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