Ethics in Nursing
The Oxford dictionary defines ethics as "a science of human duty in its widest extent."
The Chambers describes it as "the science of morals, that branch of philosophy which is concerned with human character and conduct."
Webster defines it as "the morals concerned with or relating to what is right and wrong in matters of human behaviour."
A code is needed to educate and orient members of the profession to distinguish desirable from the undesirable behaviours, to regulate relationships with co-workers and clients, and to guide the public in understanding professional conduct."
A group of nurses stated, "Ethics is knowledge and attitudes that determine man's relationship to himself, to others and to the society."
Ethics is a science that endeavors to interpret the highest standards of written or unwritten principles or doctrines or morals of human duty, human character and conduct of human behaviour and human relationships in day-to-day life.
Ethics in nursing is a particular code of behaviours, characters, conducts and relationship unique only to the nursing personnel.
Nursing ethics is "a system of principles governing the conduct of a nurse, her relationship to the patient and his family, her associates and society at large."
As a guidelines to all those in the nursing profession, the Grand Council of the International Council of Nurses held at Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 10, 1953, adopted, viewed and revised in the year 1964.
Code of Ethics as applied to Nursing
The codes of ethics are as follows:
The nurse provides services with respect for human dignity irrespective of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems
The fundamental responsibility of the nurse is threefold; to conserve life, to alleviate suffering and to promote health.
The nurse shall maintain at all time the highest standards of nursing care and of professional conduct.
The nurse must not only be well prepared to practice but shall maintain knowledge and skills at a consistently high level.
The religious beliefs of a patient shall be respected.
Nurses hold in confidence all personal information entrusted to them.
Nurses recognise not only the responsibilities but the limitations of their professional functions not to recommend or give medical treatment without medical orders except in emergencies, and report such action to a physician as soon as possible.
The nurse is under an obligation to carry out the physician's orders intelligently and loyally and to refuse to participate in unethical procedures.
The nurse assumes responsibility and accountability for individual nursing judgments and actions.
The nurse sustains confidence in the physician and other members of the health team; incompetence or unethical conduct of associates should be exposed but a only to the proper authority.
The nurse safeguards the patients and the public when health care and safety are affected by the incompetent, unethical or illegal practice of any person.
The nurse co-operates with the health team and maintains harmonious relationships with members of other professions and with nursing colleagues.
The nurse adheres to standards of personal ethics, which reflect credit upon the profession.
In personal conduct nurses should not knowingly disregard the accepted pattern of behaviours of the community in which they live and work.
The nurse participates and shares responsibility with other citizens and other health professions in promoting forts to meet the health needs of the public - local, state, national and international.
Requests poured in from many quarters of the nursing world to review and revise this code against and representation for this purpose was made thorough several national councils.
In accordance with these requests the Professional Service Committee of the ICN selected a sub-committee for the revision of the code. The final revised code was submitted to the ICN Council of National Representatives in Mexico in May 1973 at the 15th Quadrennial congress.
The Sub-committee on the Code of Ethics tried to concentrate their attention on the most vital aspects of nursing and built their revised ethical code around five major headings.
Nurses and people
Nurse's responsibility is to those people who require nursing
A person's values, customs and religious beliefs must be respected. Personal information must be held in confidence or shared only with judgments.
Nurses and Practice
The nurse is responsible for giving the best care possible at all times and under all circumstances and maintaining a high standard of practice.
Nurses and SocietyThe Code states the responsibility of the nurse for positive promotion health of the society by initiating and supporting action to meet the health and social needs
Nurses and co-workers
The nurse is the member of the health team which is made up of all those who serve to meet the health needs of people. Nurses are expected to cooperate and to work well with nursing colleagues, the other members of the health team and members of other health professions.
Nurses and the profession
The Code points out very clearly the role of the nurse as a leader and an active participator in professional activities by setting up and carrying out desirable standards of nursing practice and nursing education.