Ethics is a field of study relating to moral values and principles. Considering health and allied-health professions, the Codes of Ethics encompass the ideals of compassion and high standards of conduct, promoting excellence within professional practice. This essay will provide an overview of the “Code of Ethics for Nurses,” analyze the Code’s possible drawbacks and uncovered areas, and discuss the principles it is based on. In addition, the necessity of ethical codes for health-related professions in general will be touched upon as well.
Overview of the “Code of Ethics for Nurses”
The “Code of Ethics for Nurses” created by the American Nurses Association and revised in 2015 establishes standard ethical practices for the profession, guiding nursing professionals in a variety of healthcare issues. The latest revision of the ‘Nursing Code’ has nine provisions and thirty-five interpretive statements providing a set of norms and principles governing this field of medical care (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2015). The revised “Nursing Code” “addresses more in depth nurses’ responsibilities to engage in rectifying social injustices and health disparities in the community” (Lachman, Swanson, & Winland-Brown, 2015, p. 366). The “Code of Ethics for Nurses” encompasses many ethical issues related to the medical field.
The major areas that are covered in the Code concern a number of important aspects. The first area covered in the Provisions 1-3 is the relationship with patients prescribing practice with compassion, respect for human dignity, and the primacy of the patient’s interests (ANA, 2015). The second aspect addressed in Provisions 4-6 concerns the duties of a nursing professional, including the responsibility for optimal care, maintaining competence and professional growth, and promoting an ethical environment in the workplace (ANA, 2015). Finally, Provisions 7-9 focus on the advancement of the profession in general through professional standard and policy development, collaboration, and values integration (ANA, 2015). All in all, the covered areas are essential to the profession as these provide effective ethical guidance to nursing.
Although the provisions are supported with the interpretive sentences to provide a more comprehensive outline of the nursing ethics, it seems that the Code may lack the information concerning ethical controversies. Based on the ethical principles, crucial in contemporary healthcare, the Code does not specify the actions in case the principles come into conflict. Dolan (2017) claims that the notion of moral courage regarded in the ANA Code is a key factor in ethical decision-making when dealing with controversies requires additional studies. The reason for it is that it “addresses a broader scope of complex questions of right and wrong” (Dolan, 2017, p. 57). The importance of this aspect cannot be understated as facing ethical dilemmas in nursing practice frequently leads to moral distress. However, the guidance in the literature that might help nurses in resolving the controversial issues is still quite scarce (Rainer, Schneider, & Lorenz, 2018). Evidently, the “Code of Ethics for Nurses” provides general guidelines which can be extended upon and applied to practice.
As far as the ethical principles are concerned, they are reflected in the “Code of Ethics for Nurses.” For instance, the principle of autonomy is mentioned in the interpretive sentences for Provision 1 stating that the nurse’s support of patients’ autonomy includes respect for their decision-making and cultural values implications (ANA, 2015). Besides, the principle of non-maleficence is alluded in Provision 3, relating to confidentiality as any inappropriate disclosure of information can jeopardize the patient’s well-being (ANA, 2015). Finally, the principle of beneficence is promoted in Provision 4, prescribing to provide optimal care for the patient (ANA, 2015). Thus, these three principles make an important part of the “Code of Ethics for Nurses.”
Importance of the Codes of Ethics
It is evident that having Codes of Ethics is essential for any health-related profession. First of all, medicine is a field of high responsibility, with any decision directly affecting human lives. Therefore, following highest standards predetermined in the ethical codes is vital for minimizing errors, enhancing medical services, and achieving excellence in the field. Secondly, all decisions made by health and allied-health professionals have significant moral implications which ought to be taken into account. Confronting ethical dilemmas is an intrinsic part of health-related professions. Consequently, addressing Codes of Ethics allows to generalize the approach to the resolution of these issues and assists in taking the most impartial and beneficial decision (Lachman et al., 2015). All in all, the Codes of Ethics in medical care promote high standards and professional integrity.
To sum up, Codes of Ethics are crucial in all health and allied-health professions, assisting in dealing with complicated ethical dilemmas. The “Code of Ethics for Nurses” analyzed in this essay provides general guidelines of the nursing ethical standards. The Code covers the most important areas of the work, such as nurse-patient relationship, nurse’s duties towards the patient and the profession itself. “The Code of Ethics for Nurses” is based on the contemporary ethical principles, including those of autonomy, beneficence, and non-maleficence, despite a certain lacuna concerning decision-making in occasions of conflicting principles. Undoubtedly, Codes of Ethics make an invaluable contribution to the advancement of the medical profession.
American Nurses Association (ANA). (2015). Code of Ethics for Nurses with interpretive statements. Silver Spring, MD: Author.
Dolan, C. (2017). Moral, ethical, and legal decision-making in controversial NP practice situations. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 13(2), 57-65.
Lachman, V. D., Swanson, E. O. C., & Winland-Brown, J. (2015). The new ‘Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements’ (2015): Practical clinical application, Part II. MedSurg Nursing, 24(5), 363-368.
Rainer, J., Schneider, J. K., & Lorenz, R. A. (2018). Ethical dilemmas in nursing: An integrative review. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(19-20), 3446-3461.