Battlefield conditions: Different environment but the same duty of care


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Abstract

Using an interpretative research approach to ethical and legal literature, it is argued that nursing in the battlefield is distinctly different to civilian nursing, even in an emergency, and that the environment is so different that a duty of care owed by military nurses to wounded soldiers should not apply. Such distinct differences in wartime can override normal peacetime professional ethics to the extent that the duty of care owed by military nurses to their patients on the battlefield should not exist. It is also argued that as military nurses have legal and professional obligations to care for wounded soldiers on the battlefield, this obligation conflicts with following military orders, causing a dual loyalty conflict. This is because soldiers are part of the ‘fighting force’ and must be fit to fight and win the battle. This makes them more of a commodity rather than individual persons with distinct health care needs.

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