Authors: Gihane Endrawes, NSW
Event: 2010 TheMHS Conference
Subject: CLINICAL ISSUES, Consumer & Provider Perspectives
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Caring is widely considered to be central to health care professionals (HCPs) and a reason for choosing mental health as a career. HCPs’ practice is guided by law and codes of ethics. There is a major ethical debate around legal rights versus moral rights, where an action can be legally justified but morally or ethically wrong. Nurses are often faced with ethical dilemmas which requires them to make ethical decisions however, at times power and control is used with patients. This paper discusses a number of ethical issues involved in the management of aggression, which may involve both caring and controlling actions. This includes administration of medication, restraint and use of seclusion. Although the Mental Health Act calls for providing care in the least-restrictive environment and consumer-focused practice, patient’s autonomy and right of self-determination is at stake. The paper raises important ethical questions: If the use of power and control is needed, how and when it can be used? Can we ethically justify the use of power? Can this power be used therapeutically to empower patients, resulting in a win-win situation? How can we maintain the therapeutic, trusting and respectful relationship with clients?