nursing ethics

By | March 23, 2022

nursing ethics

nursing ethics

nursing ethics

nursing ethics

  • According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), the nursing code of ethics is a guide for “carrying out nursing responsibilities in a manner consistent with quality in nursing care and the ethical obligations of the profession.”
  • In general, ethics refers to the moral ideals that guide a person’s behavior. Ethical values are vital for all healthcare workers, but nursing ethics are especially crucial because of their function as carers.

The nursing code of ethics is made up of four key elements. They are,

  • Autonomy
  • Beneficence
  • Justice
  • Non-maleficence

These are essential guidelines for any nurse to follow in their daily nursing practice. While ethical concepts can be complicated and are typically only briefly taught in nursing school, they should be constants in nursing practice in order to give the finest, safest, and most humane care to all patients.

History of Nursing Code of Ethics

  • The nursing code of ethics dubbed the “Nightingale Pledge” after Florence Nightingale, the creator of modern nursing, is thought to have been established in 1893. The Nightingale Pledge, a variation of the Hippocratic Oath, has been read by nursing students at graduations with minimal change since its beginnings.
  • The American Nurses Association (ANA) adopted a codified code of ethics in the 1950s, and it has undergone multiple revisions since then. In 2015, nine interpretive statements or principles were introduced to the code of ethics to assist guide nursing practice more definitively.
  • The ANA’s nursing code of ethics is included in several states’ practice declarations. Despite the fact that the code of ethics is primarily concerned with ethics, it nevertheless has legal ramifications. Because of the code’s relevance to the nursing profession, it is revised on a regular basis.

4 Principles of Ethics for Nurses


  • Recognizing each patient’s right to self-determination and decision-making is what autonomy is all about. Nurses must ensure that patients obtain all medical information, education, and options in order to choose the best option for them as patient advocates. To make well-informed decisions, encompasses all potential risks, benefits, and issues.
  • Once the patient has all pertinent information, the medical and nursing teams can devise a treatment plan that complies with the patient’s medical wishes.
  • It’s critical that nurses support the patient’s medical wishes and make sure that the medical team remembers them. Despite a patient’s expressed wishes, nurses may need to continue to advocate for them.
  • Many factors may influence a patient’s acceptance or refusal of medical treatment, such as culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, general health, and social support system.

Beneficence entails behaving in the best interests and welfare of others and includes qualities like kindness and charity. “Actions guided by compassion,” according to the American Nurses Association.


  • In all medical and nursing decisions and care, there should be an element of justice. Nurses must treat all patients with the same level of respect, regardless of their financial circumstances, color, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
  • Working in a free flu clinic or a diabetic screening clinic is an example of this. These are open to everyone in the community, regardless of the factors indicated previously.


  • Doing no harm is the definition of nonmaleficence. This is the most well-known of the nursing ethics principles. It is, more particularly, choosing therapies and services that cause the least amount of harm in order to attain a positive outcome.
  • In all care delivery, the principle of nonmaleficence ensures the patient’s and community’s safety. Nurses must also report any treatment alternatives that are causing considerable harm to a patient, such as suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

Nursing Code of Ethics Interpretive Statements

The ANA’s nursing code of ethics, which was revised in 2015 to include nine clauses, now includes interpretative statements that might provide more precise direction for nursing practice.

  1. The nurse practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and unique attributes of every person.
  2. The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, community, or population.
  3. The nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety of the patient.
  4. The nurse has authority, accountability, and responsibility for nursing practice; makes decisions; and takes action consistent with the obligation to provide optimal patient care.
  5. The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety, preserve wholeness of character and integrity, maintain competence, and continue personal and professional growth.
  6. The nurse, through individual and collective effort, establishes, maintains, and improves the ethical environment of the work setting and conditions of employment that are conducive to safe, quality health care.
  7. The nurse, in all roles and settings, advances the profession through research and scholarly inquiry, professional standards development, and the generation of both nursing and health policy.
  8. The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public to protect human rights, promote health diplomacy, and reduce health disparities.
  9. The profession of nursing, collectively through its professional organization, must articulate nursing values, maintain the integrity of the profession, and integrate principles of social justice into nursing and health policy.

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