A Violation of the Nursing Code of Ethics

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 3
Words: 901
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Bachelor

Nursing specialists are professionals who must rely on the principles of moral conduct and social responsibility when doing their job. The Nursing Code of Ethics developed by the American Nurses Association is a document that guides nurses’ practice and assists them in understanding their professional obligations. Nevertheless, on certain occasions, nurses fail to comply with the provisions of the code and subsequently violate the key principles of nursing.

In my case, the major violation of the code of ethics which I experienced concerned the situation when I disclosed private health information to the patient’s mother. Thus, I violated the third provision and its first subcategory by failing to protect the patient’s rights to privacy and confidentiality (American Nurses Association, 2015). One of my patients had hypoglycemia which caused them to pass out, and after being treated, they had to spend several days in a hospital. After testing the patient’s blood, it was discovered that they had type 2 diabetes. The patient had a spouse who was always nearby and waiting for them. Yet, at some point, I received a phone call from the patient’s mother, who wanted to know the results of the test. I did not know how the mother obtained my phone number, but for some reason, I shared the private information with their alleged parent. Later, the patient told me that they did not want their parents to learn about their ailment, and I had to apologize for my actions.

My behavior had a considerable effect on patient care, organizational outcomes, and the overall work environment. First of all, when the client learned about the fact that I disclosed their private information to their mother, they grew visibly frustrated and angry. The emotions experienced by a person certainly negatively affect patient care. As for the organizational outcomes, my actions did not allow me to ensure an excellent patient experience at the facility. The work environment was also considerably undermined since some of my colleagues became critical of my professional conduct in many other situations.

As mentioned above, the client was considerably frustrated with the news and was dissatisfied with my behavior. After I told them about my actions, they asked for a new nurse to care for them. I made all possible efforts to reduce the possibility of a conflict and tried to apologize for violating the client’s privacy. Eventually, the patient forgave me and told me that they overreacted because they had a difficult relationship with their mother. The nurse who substituted me in the care for the patient told me that the client was restless the entire evening and their blood pressure was higher than normal. Nevertheless, on the next day, they managed to calm down and no longer brought up the topic again.

I could undertake several important steps in order to prevent the violation of the code and ultimately not cause distress to the client. The primary action which I had to take was not to disclose any information to the patient’s mother or any other relative whom the client did not name as their representative. Moreover, I had to refuse to talk to the client’s mother in the first place because there was no evidence that the person speaking to me was the actual parent of the client. Finally, to prevent committing the code violation, I would also have to thoroughly study the current laws, such as HIPAA, which regulate the issues of privacy and confidentiality.

As mentioned earlier, the Code of Ethics is an essential document for every nursing professional, and the situation I experienced taught me that I had to approach it more seriously. Thus, the code will guide my nursing care by providing me with the basic principles of my profession, which I should observe under any conditions. Namely, in terms of protecting clients’ rights, I will rely on the privacy and confidentiality subcategory of the code to ensure that I maintain the complete integrity of the medical information of my patients. Similarly, the code will help me to understand my responsibility and accountability for the nursing care received by my clients (American Nurses Association, 2015). Ultimately, the code will become one of the main sources governing my professional conduct.

As BSN prepared nurse, I can take several steps to minimize the occurrence of code violations. First of all, I believe that every nurse must study the Code of Ethics thoroughly every month in order to have a better understanding of their responsibilities as professionals. Secondly, it is also vital that every nurse becomes familiar with the existing laws which regulate the activity of health care specialists. Additionally, it would be reasonable on the part of the hospital to host events for nurses where they would be able to discuss certain violations of the code which happened in the past. Thus, nurses will be able to learn based on real cases and will avoid committing the same mistakes.

The Nursing Code of Ethics provides nurses with the basic principles which they must adhere to in their practices. Yet, at times, nurses still make mistakes and violate the code, which leads to various negative consequences. My case shows that it is essential for every nurse to approach matters of patients’ confidentiality and privacy in a serious way. Nurses should always remember that they have a responsibility to deliver excellent care to their clients and maintain the integrity of their health information.


American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of Ethics for nurses: With interpretive statements. American Nurses Association.