A conflict is one of the inevitable energetic forces that can drive and often damage social organizations. Situations that raise ethical issues or what can be referred to us value-based disagreements are usually challenging to resolve. The health care industry considers meeting the needs, values and preferences of patients of primary importance in the delivery of quality healthcare. However, ethical conflicts can occur over the fundamental goals of care and the way in which health care providers achieve the desired outcomes. In the absence of visionary leadership in conflict resolution, ethical dilemmas can cripple the ability of health care institutions and professionals to provide quality services. When there are limited resources coupled with organizational priorities, it is impossible to meet the needs and values of all patients. Differences in people’s preferences and values result in conflicts that lack an absolutely right and satisfactory resolution. Their prevention and management require leadership competence. This essay evaluates the distribution of resources as one of the ethical dilemmas that plague health care in general and nursing in particular.
Resource allocation is as an ethical issue because it primarily involves the question of justice. Ideally, it should be based on fair consideration of expected benefits (Kukora & Laventhal, 2016). Unfortunately, health care lacks consensus on what the concept ‘fair’ means creating a dilemma. As a matter of fact, the current demand for health care exceeds its affordable supply in all healthcare systems of the world (Huesch, 2012). It means that resource allocation decisions are inevitable and can be made in compliance with ethical reasoning (Krasna, 2016). Autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice are some of the key resources based on the application of ethical principles that can help in dealing with such issues. Others necessary for communication management and team building include veracity, privacy, confidentiality and fidelity. In terms of time management, an improved decision-making structure is a key resource reducing time wasted in negotiations. Because of the broadness of resource allocation as a subject of discussion, its evaluation should consider what a bedside nurse goes through after providing care for patients with minimal medical benefits or the quality of life. Some patients have been kept alive and cared for in a vegetative state for more than fifteen years without any hope for recovery, while others who have a chance to be cured go without care due to the lack of funding.
Although resource inadequacy problems are likely to take years and many generations to be completely resolved, an improvement can be made in nurses’ moral stress that occurs because of providing care with minimal benefits. The current situation of ethical conflicts in a healthcare setting is pervasive since healthcare providers try to do more with less (Lynch & Forde, 2016). As a result, life-long treatment and other medical advances cause suffering to nurses and other patients who would otherwise receive better care if resources allocated to caring for people in a vegetative state were spent on other medical courses (Parker, Lazenby, & Brown, 2013). Unable to do what they consider a correct action, the growing number of nurses and other healthcare providers experience moral stress in achieving outcomes (Lynch & Forde, 2016). Even though the latter cannot be limited to end-of-life decisions and treatment, finding ways to deal with the ethical conflict is not only paramount for nurses and clinicians, but also for organizations committed to outcomes improvement. It is mainly because moral stress has been associated with employee burnout and job turnover, as well as adverse effects on patient care (Parker et al., 2013). Learning how to recognize such ethical conflicts is always the first step towards the resolution or management of the problem.
As indicated above, understanding how ethical conflicts arise is important in their prevention and resolution. Similar to most situations, prevention is always preferred to resolution (Krasna, 2016). Leaders in the health care sector can employ the following five strategies to mitigate resource allocation ethical conflicts. First, health care providers must always consider long-term implications of organizational decisions on the allocation of resources (Huesch, 2012). Controversial issues can be made clear to employees through regular training and educational forums. The second strategy involves the maintenance of open communication channels and dialogue (Huesch, 2012). Under this plan, healthcare institutions should communicate quality and financial performance reports to all interested parties through meetings and other events. It enables the community to engage and support the system in an ongoing way.
Furthermore, having an environment that encourages nurses to raise their ethical concerns and empower them to address these is vital in dealing with moral stress (Lynch & Forde, 2016). In addition, the leadership should endeavor to address imbalances in benefits and harms promptly. Here, administrators should promote positive relationship elements even in the absence of a clear code of ethics that addresses the issues (Lynch & Forde, 2016). Routine communication based on trust, respect and rapport among nurses and other health care professionals can prove beneficial in dealing with moral stress and facilitate team building (Parker et al., 2013). The addition of ethicists to the leadership team is also another viable approach (Kukora & Laventhal, 2016). Since resource allocation issues will always raise ethical questions, on-site nurse ethicists, with whom all employees can talk confidentially talk, are valuable in helping affected individuals look at situations from various perspectives.
Considering all opinions to form an acceptable solution is one of the major challenges that must be anticipated. People have very divergent views on ethics, and it will require relentless efforts to prevent or manage resource allocation conflicts (Krasna, 2016). If left unchecked, engagement in resource allocation can escalate to personal attacks, which will adversely affect the quality of health care. However, open communication provides leaders with a pool of ideas that can be used to improve outcomes (Krasna, 2016). It also helps the administration to identify areas that require extra attention to prevent employees’ burnout and turnovers.
Lastly, the reduced cases of turnover and burnout because of the elimination of moral stress are the only ideal indicator of plan success (Krasna, 2016). The one can be evaluated after a considerable period, where commitment to work, enhanced motivation, and jovialness at the workplace can be used as short-term success indicators.
Decisions on how to allocate resources are always difficult, particularly where ethical dilemmas come into play. Leadership is needed to solve such challenging problems without causing an adverse impact on the quality of care or leaving the health care worker morally distressed. Therefore, the responsibility of leaders in healthcare institutions is to employ strategies that can help resolve or manage such issues. Thus, anticipating and identifying potential conflicts over resources distribution is the best prevention approach.