Lying = Mortal sin?

Is lying on an exam considered a mortal sin? I am a first-year nursing student and had my practical exam last month. At one station we were required to measure the standardized patient’s pulse on their chest and verbalize the findings to the examiner. I used the proper technique but for some reason could not locate his pulse. As a result, I pretended like I was counting it and made up a value to tell the examiner. I don’t think it would have mattered a great deal in terms of marks, because I used and verbalized the correct technique. Still, I knew it was wrong and I should have been honest about it. Is this type of lying considered a serious sin?

Yes. And I hope you’re not going to be a nurse in any hospital in which I am a patient. On another day it might have been a mistake with bad consequences for the patient.
You’re learning. That’s the point. You should have said…I can’t seem to locate a pulse. But you didn’t and you knew it was wrong.

The truth. It works.

I would have to say that you did not use the correct technique if you could not find a pulse. Your lie is worrisome on two levels- one, from a standpoint of morality. The other, from a standpoint of do you have all the training and have you absorbed all the knowledge you need to have to be a nurse? I tend to agree with the other poster that I hope you are never my nurse, if you “fake it” when you aren’t doing something right. You will be responsible for people’s lives, and that’s no time to fake it.

My suggestion would be to bring this up at Confession, learn what you did wrong in this instance and learn how to do it right, and don’t repeat such an error. In the next instance where you don’t know what you’re doing, you need to admit it so you can be shown how to do it right.

It is helpful to use a stethoscope. You can usually hear the heart beats very loudly with the stethoscope. Also, in general practice, improvising data can be harmful to the patient.

A newbie who can’t find a pulse or hear the beat for getting the blood pressure can always be retrained. Any one caught faking vitals becomes superfluous because someone else will always have to redo their work, not just vitals either.

The grave matter is there. You knew it was serious. The rest you need to discuss with a priest.

I would obviously never fake results when with a real patient! The exam consisted of scenarios in a lab with actors portraying patients. It’s just that when I practiced on my brother earlier during the semester I was able to easily locate the pulse. I think I was just frustrated in the moment and lied, though I knew I shouldn’t have. But I would never think of doing that in a real clinical setting.

But it’s a teaching mode. You won’t get in trouble for asking a legitimate question.

One should speak to a confessor about the potential graveness of the sin.

But on a completely secular note, what the OP did was alarming. Nurses often have to act quickly and decisively under incredibly high stress. And here we see what the overriding character trait in a stressful and potentially embarrassing (not being able to locate the pulse) situation was. I think the OP should consider if nursing is their true vocation. Mistakes like this on a test are unfortunate but mistakes like this in a real life situation can be the basis of malpractice and indeed death. And death is a harder thing to confess. Were I the teacher I would want to know that this happened. I doubt very much that if the OP would be disciplined much or punished much in the class, but it may give an opportunity for the instructor to address the character trait of embarrassment. And how to handle it in a high stress and high stakes environment. But I agree with the other poster, who mentioned that I sincerely hope that I do not run across the OP in my own medical care or that of my loved ones. A pulse does so much more than tells about the fact if the person is alive or what the rate is. It can be the most important clue in many fatal issues that may present itself. I would hate to think that if a nurse could not find the pulse because of nerves or stress that their initial reaction would be to doctor (pardon the pun) up the answer.:eek::eek::eek:

Confession notwithstanding, some serious reflection of vocation and perhaps some vigorous retraining should be sought.

Sorry to be so harsh OP.:o But this could be someones life we are talking about here. Perhaps one of my children…

Frankly, I would not like you to be in charge of me if I were a patient!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.