Ethics - patient follow-up

Nurses General Nursing


I am a first year student doing an assignment on ethics. I have been asked to find out the following:

A patient has come into emergency from a serious car accident, where they have been treated by the ER nurse. The patient is later transferred to ICU and the ER nurse goes up to ask about his condition. Is this ethical? Does the nurse have any right to this information?

Can anyone help? It would be much appreciated.

It isn't really ethical because the ER nurse is no longer caring for the patient, she just has a personal curiosoty which does not justify breaching confidentiality. But in real life it happens all the time. I say ask the victim or his/her family if you can share that info with the nurses who cared for him. Otherwise you are acting unethically.


as staff working within the same facility, I don't see the problem. Provided that one nurse knows that the other nurse is employed at the facility and isn't just on the phone, saying "Im a nurse...". Also, conversations regarding patients must be conducted confidentially--not in hall, elevator, etc. I recently was called by a man who had been at the scene of an accident, had called the EMS and wanted the patient's condition. I had the patient's wife come to the phone to speak to the man. Now- that would be unethical- to give him information.

One of the things I found difficult working ER was that I never knew outcomes. I think human beings - not just nurses - need to know if what they do and the decisions they make are effective. In this context, no, I do not believe it is unethical for the ER nurse to ask about the condition of a patient FOR WHOM HE/SHE HAS CARED. If there had been no previous contact, then there would be a question of ethics.

Specializes in LDRP; Education.

This sort of thing happens all the time on my unit, but a little differently.

I work in L&D, Level II. If we have a sick baby that needs to be transferred to our NICU which is located off site, we will receive weekly written reports from the NICU giving us an update on the baby's condition. I never really viewed it as unethicial. I also don't really know if this is done with the mother's permission or not.

We've HAD had patients come in through the ER who have been extremely close to delivering and have been brought up to us in time, and usually the ER nurse doesn't call us to find out about her unless they got particularly involved with it or it appeared to be out of the ordinary (say, a pre term delivery, etc)

We usually give out minimal information, such as "yes, she delivered, baby is out but being intubated" and that's it.

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