The nursing code of ethics is a guide that nurses follow when making decisions regarding ethical issues. “It provides a social contract with the society served, as well as ethical and legal guidance to all members of the profession” (Lachman, 2009). The Code of Ethics for Nursing, as written by the American Nurses Association, contains nine provisions. The first three describe the most fundamental values and commitments of the nurse: the next three address boundaries of duty and loyalty, and the last three address aspects of duties beyond individual patient encounters” (American Nurses Association, 2001). As a labor and delivery nurse, the most relevant provision in my practice is provision Provision 4 of the Code of Ethics for Nurses states that “the nurse is responsible and accountable for individual nursing practice and determines the appropriate delegation of tasks consistent with the nurse’s obligation to provide optimum patient care” (American Nurses Association, 2001).
The first half of this provision is the most relevant provision for me because not only am I responsible for the laboring mother, but I am also responsible for her unborn child. The decisions and actions that I choose to do or don’t do greatly affect the health and well being of both patients. As a labor and delivery nurse, I work very closely with the obstetricians and certified nurse midwives who practice at the hospital where I work. The close bonds that we have developed give strength to the provision of responsibility and accountability.
The doctors and Ana Code and Values midwives expect me to take responsibility of caring for their patients and they expect me to be accountable for all of my actions. There are many times on my unit when a patient comes to the hospital for a labor evaluation and is only seen by a registered nurse and is never seen by a provider. It is the responsibility of the nurse to assess the patient, her unborn child and the situation and then report back to the patient’s provider. The provider then decides the appropriate plan of care based on the nurses’ assessment.
In addition to the Code of Ethics, nurses also use certain values while caring for patients. The three most important values to nursing, in my opinion, are caring, honesty and accountability. I believe that caring is the staple of the profession of nursing. It is what we do. As nurses, we care for patients, families and communities. In order to provide the best care possible, we must offer caring and compassionate nursing care. Honesty and accountability in nursing go hand in hand.
You need to be honest and accountable to not only yourself but also to your patients and fellow healthcare providers. You must take accountability for your own actions and you must be honest in every interaction you encounter. Being honest and accountable to yourself means knowing your limitations. Being honest and accountable to patient’s means becoming a patient advocate. Being honest and accountable to your fellow healthcare providers means all of the above plus being truthful, straightforward and responsible at all times.