Nurses, as providers of human services, participate in providing comprehensive health care. They often function as members of health care teams. As team members and professionals, they are accountable for their actions.
It is difficult to define ethics. Essentially, ethics are the guidelines used to judge whether an act is right or wrong. The American Nurses Association Code for Nurses, first published in 1950, was revised in 1985 and again in 2001 by the ANA. It includes the following nine provisions, which influence decisions made by nurses that affect the quality of patient care and, ultimately, the nursing profession:
Nursing Requirements 1. The Nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems.
Nursing Requirements 2. The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community.
Nursing Requirements 3. The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.
Nursing Requirements 4. 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.
Nursing Requirements 5. The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to preserve integrity and safety, to maintain competence, and to continue personal and professional growth.
Nursing Requirements 6. The nurse participates in establishing, maintaining, and improving health care environments and conditions of employment conducive to the provision of quality health care and consistent with the values of the profession through individual and collective action.
Nursing Requirements 7. The nurse participates in the advancement of the profession through contributions to practice, education, administration, and knowledge development.
Nursing Requirements 8. The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public in promoting community, national, and international efforts to meet health needs.
Nursing Requirements 9. The profession of nursing, as represented by associations and their members, is responsible for articulating nursing values, for maintaining the integrity of the profession and its practice, and for shaping social policy.