Ethical dilemma-caring for a criminal. what would you do?

  1. 0
    Our class was discussing conscientious objection and one question asks whether it is permissible to conscientiously object to providing care for someone who deliberately and indiscriminately killed innocent people. The example given was Martin Bryant at Port Arthur.

    You can read about his crimes at: http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial/bryant/

    We had a heated debate about this topic and i would just like everybody's opinion on what they would do if they were faced with such a dilemma.
    Will we still be able to provide equal care to a patient who we know has killed numerous people? Would the bias and prejudice involved cause us to fail our duty of care? And also, will fear of the person lead us to object in caring for this person?

    Indeed, although teh example of Martin Bryant is an extreme example. It is nevertheless important to consider that we may be face with a dilemma such as this one day.

    What would you do?

    Get the hottest topics every week!

    Subscribe to our free Nursing Insights newsletter.

  2. 0
    No question about it. As nurses, we are to be nonjudgmental. That is, we provide care where care is needed. Period.

    I know the case you refer to. I thought it was bizarre and absurd. Would I provide care to the individual, should he need it?

    Yup. That's nursing. We care. No asterisks, no excepts, no judging.
  3. 0
    I think I have the right to ask someone else to take on this patient if possible. We do things like that all the time. In report a few months ago we heard about a patient I'm familiar with who mistreated a family member and I asked not to be assigned to that person (this person knew me too). Also, when you have been taking care of a very needy person and are on day 4 and your patience is worn thin, is it unreasonable to ask your fellow nurse to take that person for a day? Would that not be better for the patient?

    No one is saying you would walk away and let someone die. But I think you have a right to make a choice that doesn't endanger their life.

    We do it everyday actually . . . . . in some small way or another, when after report we decide who takes who.

    steph
  4. 0
    If someone doesn't agree with abortion then it is understood that they don't have to care for those patients. I don't see any difference.
  5. 0
    No specifics but as a student, I was assigned to and cared for a convicted criminal - I am in a small city and most of the time, you have at least met all of your patients before and may be well acquainted with either them or their family members. In a smaller centre, we do not care for our own family members - nurses will change patients for this reason all of the time. But, to expect the other nurses to change patients because you object to their past (and sometimes, present) criminal activity would be unreasonable. We ALL objected to this individual's crimes, and this individual. I took the assignment and cared for the patient. His particular criminal activity is one that I am STRONGLY offended and repulsed by but, I was able to seperate my personal feelings from my professional ones and perform my nursing duties to the same level that I would for any patient. I was not "chummy", but I ensured that his nursing needs were met.

    When given an assignment that you deem questionable, there are many things that you need to consider. Will you be able to seperate personal feelings from professional ones? Will you be able to provide the appropriate level of nursing care (ie., if the patient needs qh vitals and checks but you just cannot stand to look at them one more time and skip the last four checks on your shift - something could happen during those last four hours and then the hospital and you would be in a lot of legal trouble)? The decision to ask your colleagues to switch patients with you should be based on whether or not you can remain professional and competent in your duties - if you cannot, then change assignments - management and coworkers would rather you switch then open everyone up to a lot of trouble. Also, if someone is asking to switch assignments on a regular basis - that will raise eyebrows with your colleagues. After awhile, they won't be so willing and when you REALLY need to switch, they won't agree to it. I guess what I'm saying is, don't make a habit of it.
  6. 0
    I've taken care of a couple of murderers. One was shot by cops after killing two beloved teachers, the other had a fractured femur from a car chase accident in which he killed an innocent driver. They were shackled to the bed. I just detached from all of that and took care of the physical being there and what their physical needs were, same I would any other patient. But it was weird. I left my feelings out of it. My job was to get them well quickly so they could spent the rest of their lives in jail.
    Last edit by 3rdShiftGuy on Aug 22, '04
  7. 0
    I have considered this topic myself, as a crime victim of sorts. I have a child that was sexually abused, and living in a small town, wondered if I would ever be called upon to be the nurse of this individual or the family. LOTS OF HOSTILITY THERE! I decided that while I cannot pick and choose my patients, and I must care for criminals too if they need it. BUT, if this particular person (who hurt my child) or member or thier family would be assigned to me I would need to switch with someone else, simply becuase there is too much hurt there, and it would be way too tempting to give substandard care, or be at least very unkind.


    So, if the criminal had affected me personally, NO. If I was not directly affected, Yes, I feel I could do it.
  8. 0
    Quote from iamlovingit
    Our class was discussing conscientious objection and one question asks whether it is permissible to conscientiously object to providing care for someone who deliberately and indiscriminately killed innocent people. The example given was Martin Bryant at Port Arthur.

    You can read about his crimes at: http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial/bryant/

    We had a heated debate about this topic and i would just like everybody's opinion on what they would do if they were faced with such a dilemma.
    Will we still be able to provide equal care to a patient who we know has killed numerous people? Would the bias and prejudice involved cause us to fail our duty of care? And also, will fear of the person lead us to object in caring for this person?

    Indeed, although teh example of Martin Bryant is an extreme example. It is nevertheless important to consider that we may be face with a dilemma such as this one day.

    What would you do?
    I could provide nursing for a criminal. So if another nurse couldn't then I would switch with her. What I can't do is assist during an abortion or circ. Hopefully, another nurse would be able to switch with me. To me it is the same thing. If you object to something morally you should be able to refuse to care for a pt. Why would I provide nursing for a criminal but not abs or circs. Well I feel that I am actively helping in something I feel strongly against. Whereas, with a criminal they have already done what they did. I can't prevent anything. Yes I know that they will find another nurse for abs/circs and I won't have stopped anything but I am taking a stand. But I would provide care for a pt who had an ab or circ because it is after the fact and taking a stand then would be useless and could endanger someone's health. Hope that makes sense.
  9. 0
    Yes I could, and yes I would.

    I'm not that person's judge, nor do I know where life's road might yet lead him/her.

    That said, as the poster above mentioned, had a violent criminal act been PERSONAL or committed against one of my loved ones, yes, I would ask to switch... too disconcerting, too easy to lose focus, too many negative emotions invovled to provide safe and competent care..
  10. 0
    I have cared for people accused (& probably guilty) of horrible crimes. Even in a jail ward tqo survivers of the same gang shoot out from different gangs.
    Miserable to listen to those newly paralyzed patients cursing at each other. Glad they could not get up. Same thing. Someone had to care for them until they could go get rehab in jail and go on trial.

    One young man arrested for posession was critically ill. I really felt bad for the mother. The patient was polite but lied a lot.


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors
Top