Nursing Ethics

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Nursing Code of Ethics

Lisa Lang

West Texas A&M University

NURS 4345 Professional Nursing Leadership/Management

Nursing Code of Ethics

The focus of this paper is to discuss the Nursing Code of Ethics. The purpose of this paper is to review the purpose, background, and the importance of the Nursing Code of Ethics and evaluate how the Nursing Code of Ethics improves individual nursing practice. Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary defines the Nursing Code of Ethics as, “A statement by the American Nurses Association to guide nurses in their legal and ethical practice” (Venes, 2009, p. 479). A code of ethics is a summary of a profession’s values and standards of conduct (Venes, 2009).


Ethics is not a black-and-white subject, which you either know or don’t know. Ethics always involves thinking and feeling, study and practice, knowledge and intuition. As such, ethics involves the whole person of you the nurse, and the whole person of the patient or client. This is a tall order; it is also a personal challenge (College and Association of Registered Nurses in Alberta, 2005). As nurses we are faced with ethical decisions on a daily basis, having a Code of Ethics as a guide helps in making the right decision at the right time for the right reason.

The Nursing Code of Ethics


The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics for Nurses serves the following purposes: it is a succinct statement of the ethical obligations and duties of every individual who enters the nursing profession, it is the profession’s nonnegotiable ethical standard and It is an expression of nursing’s own understanding of its commitment to society (ANA, 2001). The Nursing Code of Ethics also helps nurses keep perspective and have a balanced view regarding decisions.


When the ANA House of Delegates first unanimously accepted the Code for Professional Nurses in 1950, years of consideration had been given to the development of this code, consideration that continues to this day. The ANA modified the Code in 1956, 1960, 1968, 1976, 1985, and 2001 so that it could continue to guide nurses in increasingly more complex roles and functions. These revisions reflect the commitment of professional nursing to maintaining one of its most important and vital documents that continues to inform nurses, other health professionals, and the general public of nursing’s central values (Fowler, 2010).

Importance to Nursing Practice

The Nursing Code of Ethics is very important to nursing practice. The Code of Ethics serves as a guide to make sure we are giving the same standard of quality care to everyone we take care of. Since we are exposed to many different ideas and beliefs in our lives, having a standard to follow keeps our own personal beliefs and bias from interfering with the care we give. For example, it is widely known that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses, 2009). As a nurse I may believe that blood transfusions are a high-quality treatment that has saved many lives. By following the Nursing Code of Ethics Provision that states, “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” (Creasia & Friberg, 2011, p. 264) then I as the nurse would not force a Jehovah’s Witness to receive a blood transfusion nor would I make the patient feel bad for not accepting a blood transfusion. I may not agree with the patient’s decision but with the Code of Ethics as my guide, I have respected my patient’s wishes and that can make all the difference.

Improvement on Personal Nursing Practice

Even though my knowledge of the existence of a Nursing Code of Ethics has been recent I’m not sure my practice in nursing would have been...
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