Telehealth Nurses: Ethical Issues of Concern

Ethical issues have been of great interest in telehealth delivered care, especially with the internet; there are increased chances of accessing provided information. Therefore, the matter of ethical issues that are of interest to nurses in telehealth needs to be researched. Potential ethical issues are associated with many new nurses who have not faced ethics before their practice. Examples of potential common ethical issues that arise include science and spirituality, patient culture, confidentiality, and other challenges. The telehealth delivery care system uses an interactive video incorporated with biomedical telemetry (Allhoff & Henschke, 2018). The integration of the two incongruences guarantees a healthcare provider at a health facility or a base station to assess a patient’s condition and treat patients’ health problems at ambulatory health centers, nursing homes, community hospital emergency units, and rural hospitals. A consulting physician at an operating station does a complete history taking and physical examination considering the interactive technological nature. The patient is physically present with the physician.

Privacy and Confidentiality

A telehealth delivery system entails the nurse passing communication regarding the patient to the consultant for advanced care. Therefore, transferring patients’ reports needs to be conducted to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of reports. Private data collection means that the notification does not reach non-authorized personnel, especially those involved in the consultation (Allhoff & Henschke, 2018). Sending of education means that concept is accessed only by those involved in the patient’s care.

Nurses are predisposed to privacy risk since there are reduced or lack of controls in collecting and disclosing clients’ knowledge. For example, sensors found in the patients’ environment can easily transmit education to the public, such as interaction with a spouse or friends (Allhoff & Henschke, 2018). However, privacy can be achieved when the environment of nurses and consultant physicians involved in the matter is under control. The concept of security is primarily addressed by vendors who are technicians in ICT.

Patient Informed Consent

Informed consent refers to when a nurse takes into account and explains to the patient what is taking place before performing an activity. During nurse-patient interaction, informed consent needs to be obtained by the nurse before telehealth assessment or dispensing of medication. There are critical issues to consider while using ICT in telehealth. Nurses also provide strengths and weaknesses, which is a unique feature in telehealth; therefore, obtaining consent will be essential (Chaet et al., 2017). Information that is required in the telehealth system may have disparities depending on the patient knowledge of technology.

Certain gaps in miscommunication should be considered, especially when dealing with vulnerable groups such as old age. Therefore the nurse should consider caregivers or next of kin to the vulnerable to be present. Some healthcare institutions have a consent document, and nurses need to ensure that the document is signed by the client (Chaet et al., 2017). Before any procedure or activity, the nurse should provide consent, whether verbal or written, is obtained, explain to the patient why the patient is seen via telehealth rather than face-to-face, and assure the patient that there will be clarity information regarding telehealth.

Gaps in privacy and confidentiality hugely affect and influence healthcare professionals’ and patients’ trust in the telehealth delivery care system, thus threatening these systems’ ability to improve the quality, receptiveness, and effectiveness of health care. However, more enhanced telehealth strategies and regulations are needed to ensure strong privacy and confidentiality are achieved in all electronic consumer information. In obtaining patient consent, it is important to understand telehealth health services and information about the patient to attain ethical considerations.

References

Allhoff, F., & Henschke, A. (2018). The internet of things: Foundational ethical issues. Internet of Things, 1, 55-66. Web.

Chaet, D., Clearfield, R., Sabin, J. E., & Skimming, K. (2017). Ethical practice in telehealth and telemedicine. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 32(10), 1136-1140. Web.