For the most part, neither the professional codes or the Nurse Practice Acts provides guidance in what ought to occur when the nurse must act to focus on some deficiency that she/he observes in order to safe guard individual clients or the public. The ethical code calls for nurses to be accountable professionals, yet fails to acknowledge that, in reality, nurses have little power within the health care system. And the managed care system, as a whole, is unethical in and of itself because it puts the bottom line above patient care. If nurses adhere strictly to the code's directives they are often called upon to make personal and professional sacrifices, including loss of employment. We all know what happens to nurses who speak up or "blow the whistle" on unsafe practices. There is a definite clash between the code of ethics and the day to day reality for nurses. It places unreasonable burdens on nurses. Most facilities that we work at are not functioning in an ethically responsible manner when it comes to patient care.
Code of Ethics for Nurses - Provisions
Approved as of June 30, 2001
The ANA House of Delegates approved these nine provisions of the new Code of Ethics for Nurses at its June 30, 2001 meeting in Washington, DC. In July, 2001, the Congress of Nursing Practice and Economics voted to accept the new language of the interpretive statements resulting in a fully approved revised Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements. For further information, contact Gladys White at the Center of Ethics and Human Rights.
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.
The nurse's primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community.
The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.
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.
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.
The nurse participates in establishing, maintaining, and improving healthcare 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.
The nurse participates in the advancement of the profession through contributions to practice, education, administration, and knowledge development.
The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public in promoting community, national, and international efforts to meet health needs.
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.