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Ethical Issue: Kidneys

Kidneys are vital organs of the human body, the malfunction of which may lead to a fatal outcome. In order to remove excess water and waste from the blood of patients with kidney failure, medical workers use dialysis, which often saves lives. Thus, the decisions concerning dialysis application are sometimes associated with ethical issues and the role of nurses in this process.

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Healthy kidneys keep organism’s internal equilibrium of minerals and water; they excrete the acidic metabolism end-products and produce calcitriol, erythropoietin, and renin. However, an acute disturbance in the function of kidneys or a chronic kidney disease often causes kidney failure that requires such process as dialysis. Its realization is conducted by medical workers, in particular, dialysis nurses who are “a small part of a larger specialty called nephrology, which involves the study of the kidneys and the care that they require” (NurseJournal.org, n.d.). They monitor and support ill people undergoing dialysis treatments prescribed by physicians. Mostly each dialysis nurse has an experience in his or her nursing practice that entails an ethical issue.

Some years ago, a 56-year-old male patient was diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer, thrombocytopenia purpura, and sepsis. Six months prior, he was a healthy man, so his wife hoped for his fast recovery. Medical workers, including dialysis nurses, had been keeping him on dialysis for 4 weeks. Unfortunately, the patient’s condition did not improve; moreover, he had mouth bleeding and liver failure while his appearance continued to deteriorate. In addition to significant expenses, it became obvious that the patient was suffering and would not recover. Thus, the medical workers and the family decided to stop dialysis, which resulted in the patient’s death.

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To conclude, nurses and physicians often face difficult situations being required to solve ethical issues. Various reasons can cause kidney failure, thus demanding additional treatment measures to prevent the patient from dying. Nevertheless, some patients may not respond to such treatment as dialysis, and only medical workers are qualified to solve the ethical issue: let the patient suffer and wait for natural death or stop the treatment. Thus, dialysis nurses play an important role in treating kidney diseases and making the issue-related decisions.

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