Quote from AndrewCraigRN
However, my question is:
Can a nurse refuse to care for a patient based upon moral objection?
I'm not a U.S. nurse. In my country you can't refuse care to a patient based upon moral objection and expect to keep your job. There's are no exceptions. It doesn't matter if the basis for refusal is personal beliefs regarding for example abortion or feeling antipathy and aversion towards an extremely bigotted patient voicing their racist views. It might even cost you your license depending on the circumstances of the situation when care was withheld.
However the fact that you don't have a right to refuse to provide care doesn't mean that you have to accept illegal behavior. If a patient is verbally or physically threatening or aggressive, charges can be filed with the police. In the instances where the stuff patients spout isn't illegal but still highly objectionable, you can ask them to stop just as you would any other adult in any other situation
. Simply having patient status doesn't give the person carte blanche to be racist, inflammatory or offensive.
It goes against everything I believe in to refuse care to a patient. In my opinion a patient's right to receive care trumps a nurse's feelings about the choices a patient makes and the opinions a patient holds. But I have, and will continue to do so when appropriate, asked a patient to kindly put a sock in it, when they are alert and oriented and being outright obnoxious.
Years ago when I worked in the ER a neo-nazi was admitted after being stabbed in a fight. He was in sufficiently good shape to hurl racist insults towards one of the trauma docs, originally from Iran, who just happened to walk by us on his way to the ambulance bay. I assured my patient that he would get the best care that we are capable of giving, just as any other patient
will, but that what he was saying was not acceptable
behavior in our ER and that it needed to stop right away
. It did.
OP, I don't know how the culture is in your place of work, but to me it should be acceptable for you to express to this particular patient that you don't agree with his views or at the very least be allowed to ask him to stop saying the things he was saying. If it isn't, I think that's wrong.