Code of Ethics for Nursing
Ethics is an essential part of what nursing is. Nursing has an eminent chronicle of trepidation for the wellbeing of those who are ill, hurt, and the helpless and for universal fairness. This concern is personified in the specifications of nursing care to those in society. The American Nurses Association has developed the nursing code of ethics that covers the obligations of nursing to protect those who are in their care. This code holds nurses responsible and accountable for their individual nursing judgments (Fremgen, 2006). Nursing includes the deterrence of illness, the easing of distress and the safeguard, support and the renewal of health in the care of patients, families and the communities in which they live in. The ethical practice of nursing is lasting and distinguishing. The code of ethics makes specific the goals, standards and requirements of the nursing profession. The nursing code of ethics achieves the following rational:
1. Concise of the requirements and duties of all who enter the nursing field.
2. The profession’s ethical standards are undeviating.
3. A demonstration of nursing’s own comprehension of nursing responsibilities to humanity.
Clarity of Goals
The goals of the American Nursing Association code of ethics are articulated clearly. The goals of the American Nursing Association code of ethics are to ensure that nurses carry out their moral obligation to the patients, community and themselves (ANA, 2009). The ethical responsibilities are articulated clearly in the code of ethics.
Besides having clearly articulated goals the American Nursing Association has a clearly expressed vision statement: The American Nursing Association is charged with situating the policy in healthcare, the healthcare setting, patient care and all other areas of nursing involvement. The discipline of nursing requires extensive study and understanding of social, cultural, and ethical influences in patient care. The study and understanding of nursing ethics gives the nurse a unique perspective in addressing human values, autonomy, and dignity with patients. Education and preventive counseling are vital and necessary parts of nursing as they improve the care of patients of all ages. Nurses can choose a wide compass of practice or more focused compass of practice from basic healthcare to concentration in a particular area of specialization.
The American Nursing Association code of ethics for nursing has nine major ethical foundations. These ethical foundations help nurses determine between what is good or bad and right or wrong behavior. The nine major ethical foundations that nurses use to guide them when making decisions are the respect and needs of the patient, respect for patient choice, confidentiality and dignity of patients, accountability and responsibility of nursing, wholeness and preservation of the integrity of character, responsibility of the healthcare environment, advancement of the profession of nursing, promotes community, national, international health needs, responsibility of articulating nursing values.
The respect and needs of the patient must not be discriminated against by the nurse because of race, religion, or cultural origin. The need for healthcare is universal and nurses deliver services with respect for human needs and values. These measures of care enable the patient to live with the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well being (Post, 2006).
The respect for patient choice holds the uniqueness of the patient, and family members, therefore, a nursing plan of care must reflect that uniqueness. Nurses must examine their own personal agenda’s in personal and professional values, the values of others involved in patient care, along with the values and interest of the patient. Nurses must strive for the resolution of conflict in a way that ensures patient safety and patient interest while preserving the integrity of the nursing profession (Post, 2006).
The confidentiality and dignity of patients is safeguarded by the nurse. The needs of the patients do not warrant the intrusion into their life. Nurses have the duty to maintain confidentiality of patient information at all times. By not doing so the nurse jeopardizes the fundamental trust of the patient. The rights and privacy of the patient should be the focus of the nurse (Post, 2006).
The accountability and responsibility of nursing includes the direct care of patients, teaching, researching and administration. Nursing accountability means being held accountable for one’s own actions and answerable to one’s own self. Nursing responsibility is the specific liability associated with the duties and performance of nursing roles (Post, 2006).
The wholeness and preservation of integrity of character includes the responsibility of preserving, maintaining, and continued personal and professional growth. In the process of entering the nursing field nurses integrate personal and professional values even when these values differ from others. Integrity is a characteristic of the comprehensiveness of being and is the focus of nurses as individuals. The nursing field has the duty to remain unwavering with personal and professional values (Post, 2006).
The responsibility of the healthcare environment is the nurse’s responsibility to maintain moral values and encourage respectful interactions with fellow colleagues. All nurses have the responsibility to create an environment that support the growth of virtues and excellence that enables all in the field of nursing to fulfill ethical obligations (Post, 2006).
The advancement of the profession of nursing involves nurses contributing in some way to the leadership, activities and practicality of the nursing profession organization. The nursing standards and guidelines reflect the profession of nursing grounded in the conduct of moral ethics and a body of knowledge (Post, 2006).
Promotion of community, national and international health needs with other healthcare professionals broadens healthcare concerns such as world hunger, environmental pollution, lack of access to healthcare and violations of human rights. Nursing is dedicated to the support of the safety and health of all people. Nurses have the responsibility to be knowledgeable of community healthcare issues and needs (Post, 2006).
The nursing profession is accountable for expressing the values and integrity of nursing by communicating and affirming the values with fellow nurses in the nursing profession. The nursing profession continues to clarify nursing’s accountability to society (Post, 2006).
The grievance procedures are not listed in the American Nursing Association code of ethics for nursing. Information on how a person in the nursing profession can file a complaint with the ANA grievance committee is listed on the American Nursing Association home page located at www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/Columns/Ethics.aspx . At the grievance website nurses can view information on how to file a grievance complaint using the required forms and procedures (ANA, 2009).
Feasibility of Enforcing the Entire Code of Ethics for Nursing
The code of ethics for nursing followed by the American Nursing Association has much potential to be carried out by those in the profession. The ethical foundations are clearly articulated in the code of ethics for nursing. The ethical foundations include principles that are easy to understand and anybody with common sense can follow the provisions within the code of ethics. If the ethical foundations are not carried out and followed a nurse risks having her license revoked.
The ethical foundation of nurses being responsible for the advancement of the profession could potentially become a weak area. Nurses are encouraged to continuing education credits by going on line and taking mini quizzes. This should not be voluntary as the potential to be dishonest with the quiz is high. Testing accountability should be implemented to prevent dishonesty, much like the testing for licensure and certifications. Nurses should go to a testing center to complete continuing education credits and they should be logged by a certified nurse educator.
Although the American Nursing Association has institutionalized a code of ethics for nursing, with a clear ethical foundation, problems come sometimes arise. Like any other healthcare profession these potential problems are dealt with according to the severity of the infraction. The healthcare profession is not perfect and codes of ethics are exceptional guidelines to help all healthcare professionals when making an ethical decision.
Fremgen, Bonnie (2006) Medical Law and Ethics (2nd edition), Prentice-Hall Pearson Education Inc. retrieved August 16, 2009 from University of Phoenix course materials.
Post, Stephen (2006) Code of Ethics for Nursing (3rd edition), Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Vol. 5 p. 2749-2756 retrieved August 25, 2009 from gale power search, Apollo Library http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/ips/start.do?prodId=IPS
The American Nurses Association (2009) Caring for those who care, Nursing World. Retrieved August 26, 2009 from http://www.nursingworld.org/default.aspx