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Virtues and Values

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Virtues and Values are very important to health care today. Virtues and values are not about what a person wants to be, but rather virtues and values are about who a person really is. Any changes or decisions will always require people or even the patient’s to examine their values and virtues. ( Sheryl, 2010). Virtue can be defined as the difference between good and bad people meaning beneficial quality or moral excellence. Some examples of virtues include being honest or honesty and justice being what is called abstract principles of virtue that are moral. A person is considered to be virtuous if they do what is right and what is good not by habit, but simply by the rules of conduct they choose to follow or set. Another example of virtue is faithfulness which is fidelity or keeping your word and obligations and commitments to other people or patients. (Pogzar, 2012). Values are conduct that is standard. A value is used for judging whether an action is good or bad. Values are standards that can be measured in regards to goodness in a person’s life. Values can also change if we need them to. Values can even sometimes motivate people. Everyone makes judgments based on what they value or has worth. (Pogzar, 2012).

Even though value is all around everyone it is often not recognized. In healthcare today, there is total agreement that values are lessoning. Health care is now reflecting societies who are more heterogeneous (different) and even more open to diverse forms of living with different values. When values comes in clear view that is when values are usually detected. (Petrova, Dale & Fulford, (2006). There are some differences between virtues and values, even though these two words are often confused between each other. When a person has a character of being virtuous this is very important because it consists of things such as being honest, integrity and great work ethic. All three of these characteristics of having virtues are very important in caring for the patients we are suppose to be serving.

It is even possible for 2 people to have values that are different and still be virtuous. (Sheryl, 2006). Values, on the other hand, are not considered to be serious or sobering in nature. Things that are valued include volunteer work, artistic expression, humor and music. Other examples of value include valuing the time you spend with your children, caring for your parents may be of value to a person, A difference in age may affect a person’s value system such as what a person valued or did not valued at 25 may be the opposite when they turn 50 years of age. (Petrova, Dale & Fulford, (2006). How do virtues and values affect one’s character?

Virtue and values can affect one’s character in so many ways and certain types of values are positive, guide you to character traits that end up being ethical virtues. With these values and virtues following right behind, can actually create a life that is good and successful. This affect on ones character can affect a person personally, academically and professionally. In virtues a person’s character will define their ethical character. Value can affect one’s character negatively or positively. Not all values will lead to virtues, but lead to devices instead. Not all value systems are good, but actually lead to unethical behavior. ((Abbott, 2012). How are virtues and values acquired? Virtues are internal qualities acquired that an individual has that shows characteristics of their good behavior. Values, on the other hand, are learned. (Benn, 2012). How can they be helpful in resolving health care ethical dilemmas? Whenever ethical dilemmas arrive there are often choices that will need to be made that may have unpleasant results.

For caregivers, ethical dilemmas may ending up breaking what is normal or cause contradictions some ethical values. Examples of ethical dilemmas are: Abortion issues (Pro-life or Pro-choice), pregnancy as a result of rape or incest, right-to-die, an example of trying to decide based on virtues and values. (Pozgar, 2012). Identify and discuss a health-related case in which virtues and values played a part. The health-related case study where virtues and values played a part in involves a 20-year old, pregnant Jehovah’s Witness woman who refused to have a blood transfusion after she had been in a car wreck. The patient arrived in the emergency room displaying symptoms of internal bleeding and the medical team wanted to give her a blood transfusion and emergency surgery to try to save her and her baby. The young patient refused the blood transfusion based on her belief in the Jehovah’s Witness teaching where they teach their members to not to receive blood transfusions and this patient’s husband was in agreement with this belief as well. This young couple value system appears to include a strong faith in the teaching of the Jehovah’s Witness that they would risk the loss of the woman and the unborn child to honor their belief.

This couple even had written documentation of their belief to not receive blood transfusions. In the value system of the emergency room it involved was the well being of this patient and the unborn 32 week baby against the woman’s religious belief that she stated. The hospital at this time had only 2 options which are accept the patient’s wish to not receive blood transfusion or try to get a court order. This healthcare team chose to honor the wishes of this young couple who were well-informed of the possible results of not getting the blood transfusion and C-section, based on virtue ethics by respecting the autonomy by honoring the decision of the patient. The 20-year old woman and her baby dies. This woman believed in this teaching so strongly that she stated she rather die than go against the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Pacsi, 2008). In the case study involving the 20-year, pregnant woman we see how the virtues and values that we believe in and live by can play a significant role in issues involving our health.

There is no secret that Jehovah Witnesses strongly believe that their members and others should not receive blood transfusion even if it means the blood that they would be receiving could possibly save their life. In the case of this young woman her values and beliefs were so indoctrinated in the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses she was willing to die and cause the death of her 32 week baby since she also was refusing to have a C-section that could have possibly saved the life of her unborn child. Since the woman was brought in from a single car crash with symptoms of bleeding internally time played a role because the health care team needed to move quickly. This couple believed so strongly in this refusal of blood transfusion that they had documentation to support their belief. Since patients refusal of interventions and blood transfusions appear to becoming more common, health care providers need to have this issue taught about in nursing curriculum.

This is a very complex issue and nurses especially new ones need to be properly trained on how to handle this type of situation if it was to arise. Even though the teachings of Jehovah Witnesses is against blood transfusion, in emergency situations that their members have their advance directives and other legal papers in case of emergency which appears to be what this young woman had done. This is an ethical dilemma that health care providers are faced with and need to know what the proper steps to take prior to an emergency situation such as this case arrives in the emergency room. The staff in this case chose to honor the religious values and beliefs of this couple where the mother died along with her unborn baby. The medical staff in this case also felt that the principle of beneficence, which centers on promoting the well-being of others, was honored in this case, as well as the principle of nonmaleficence, meaning they did not inflict any harm on this patient by honoring her wishes. In this case we also see the nursing virtues of moral courage, self-reliance and compassion in being able to understand this situation.

Abbott, L. (2012). What is a Value? What is a Virtue? Retrieved from website http://www.odysseyofthefuture.net/pdf_files/Readings/EthicalCharDevWrkshp.pdf Sheryl, (2010). Virtues and Values – Matters of Importance. Retrieved from website http://bestyears.com/blog/?p=257 Pacsi, A., (2008). Case Study: An ethical decision involving a dying patient. Retrieved from website http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Case+study%3a+an+ethical+dilemma+involving+a+dying+patient.-a0184801424. Petrova, M., Dale, J., and Fulford, B., (2006). Values-based practice in primary care: easing the tensions between individuals values, ethical principles and best evidence. British Journal of General Practice, 56(530). Retrieved from website http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1876638/. Pozgar, G. (2012). Legal aspects of health care administration (11th ed.) Sudbury,

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