Code of Ethics in Nursing: Summary and Applications

Code of ethics refers to a set of conduct principles within an organization, which are drafted with the aim of guiding behavior and decision making in accountability. Code of ethics is purposely designed to assist members of an organization in getting to know the difference between ‘what is right’ and ‘what is wrong’ and incorporating this understanding into their daily decisions. Nurses, just like other professionals in different organizations of accountability, are governed by a specific code of ethics.

This code of ethics helps the health care workers to administer their duties and responsibilities in a manner that complies with the diverse ethical obligations of their caring profession. Apart from helping nurses make informed decisions in their work, the code of ethics also supports the refusal of the health care workers to take part in actions that may conflict with their duty in the critical health care environment, as patient care attendants.

This paper examines one of the nine elements of the American Nurses Association code of ethics for nurses, which observes that “nurses promote, advocate for, and strive to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.”

This code of ethics plays a significant role in the entire professional responsibility of nurses in providing high-quality care to patients. As it is observable from the various elements of this code, it is the responsibility and obligation of nurses to promote, advocate for, and strive beyond any obstacles, to protect their patients and clients, in all ways possible.

The fulfillment of this code is normally achieved through the nursing process, which entails all the activities carried upon the patients by the nurses, as a part of their healing process. The call of this code is based upon the nursing philosophy and constitution, and it is fully supported by the performance standards and the job descriptions of the nursing profession. The segment observes that, it is the duty of all nurses to encourage and promote an environment whereby the values, rights and customs of their patients or clients are fully respected.

In this regard, nurses are expected to offer care that is sensitive to the needs of the patients, in all respectful manners. Nurses at all times ought to apply judgment based on the consent of the clients, when administering health care upon them (Butts & Rich, 2007). In this regard, it is the responsibility of the people in the nursing profession to establish care standards and settings which aim at promoting safety and quality attention on patients.

These significant approaches, as stipulated by the code of ethics, can be achieved through a number of ways. For instance, it is the responsibility of nurses to ensure that their patients or clients are given sufficient information and advice on which to base their consent for care and treatment.

As a nurse, one should also consider taking appropriate actions in safeguarding patients and the people around their world within the health care environment incase their health appears to be endangered by a fellow nurse or other people from the outside world. Another important way of observing and fulfilling this code is by holding patients’ personal information and/or data in confidence, and using informed judgment and approach in sharing it with others.

Good nursing practitioners would always take time to provide sufficient advice and information to their patients to permit informed consent regarding matters of treatment or care, prior to the nursing process (Benner, Tanner & Chesla, 1996). Good nursing practices are based on full understanding of the professional nursing practice and all what is required to execute effective health care to all people, regardless of their social and cultural differences.

To effectively apply this code in their daily routine as care professionals, nurses should observe and uphold competent behavioral and accountability standards in their nursing practices.

As it would be observed, ethical issues and dilemmas have always interfered with the practices of the nursing profession in various segments of accountability (Cherry and Jacob, 2007). There are many ethical dilemmas in the health care department presently, in relation with this code of ethics.

However, nurses and other health care practitioners are well informed of the diverse ethical dilemmas that are likely to present in their daily routines in health care matters and know well how to address and resolve them accordingly. A perfect example of a common ethical dilemma that is likely to face nurses, in connection with the described code of ethics is the issue of ‘religious beliefs’ that can be associated with some individuals. In their daily routine, nurses normally deal with many types of patients who are defined by different religious or spiritual beliefs and needs.

Sometimes, these religious beliefs do place nursing practitioners in a big confusion on how to administer their roles as health care workers and at the same time honor the religious beliefs of their patients or clients.

A good example of these types of dilemmas is whereby a patient chooses to disregard undergoing some forms of treatments, such as blood transfusion, due to their religious backgrounds. In such cases, nurses are confused on the actions to take, especially when the case appears to be more critical. The best way to resolve serious issues such as this one is to seek special advice from relevant parties with immediate effect. This however, should involve senior health care professionals in the facility and the family of the individual.

References

Benner, P, Tanner, C., & Chesla, C. (1996). Expertise in Nursing Practice: Caring, Clinical Judgment, and Ethics. New York, NY: Springer.

Butts, J & Rich, K. (2007). Nursing Ethics: Across the Curriculum and into Practice, 2nd Edition. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Cherry, B & Jacob, S. (2001). Contemporary Nursing: Issues, Trends, & Management. Missouri, US: Mosby Publishers.