“Nurses represent the largest group of health care professionals” (Sarikonda-Woitas & Robinson, 2002, p. 72). Professional nurses are accountable for his or her ethical conduct. Medical professionals have a legal and ethical responsibility to deliver safe, quality care taking into account the patients’ individual needs and allowing self-determination. The nursing codes of ethics are formal statements guiding professional conduct and informing the public of the nursing professions commitment and beliefs. This nursing code of ethics along with specific state law nurse practice acts, guide nurses in practicing safely within legal and ethical boundaries. Wacker Guido (2006) stated, “Ethics, like values, is individualistic” (p. 2). Legal and Ethical Relationships
Wacker Guido (2006) stated, “The disciplines of law and professional nursing have been officially integrated since the first mandatory nurse practice act was passed by the New York legislature in 1938” (p. 15). Laws are created to govern the public. According to "Dictionary.com" (n.d.), “the legal system interprets and enforces laws” (legal system). When a person violates a law his or her freedom is at risk and can be taken from him or her. Wacker Guido (2006) stated, “Created by individuals and capable of being changed, the legal system is a general foundation that gives continuing guidance to health care providers, regardless of their personal views and value system” (p. 3). Ethics are based on a framework of values, philosophies and can be interpreted differently by individuals (Wacker Guido, 2006). Ethics can be defined as beliefs, standards, or morals accepted and agreed upon by a specific group. The "American Nursing Association" (2001) website code of ethics with interpretive statements advises that each individual nurse is responsible for his or her own individual practice. It would not be outside the realm of consideration that he or she may have a legal action, that is held to be unethical and vice versa that an ethical action would be held to be illegal. With this, dilemmas arise and require the nurse to seek assistance from a board of ethics or simply make their decision with the full knowledge that he or she will be held accountable for their decisions. “As the scope of professional nursing practice becomes more complex, the individual nurse must exercise judgment in accepting responsibilities, seeking consultation, and assigning activities to others who implement nursing services” (Milton, 2008, p. 301). Personal and Professional Values
I consider my values to be closely linked with my morals. I use my values and morals to personally gauge what I consider right from wrong. I believe that my values were formed early on in my childhood. I was raised by a multi-viewed religious family. I believe this allowed me to understand that while each person held a strong conviction, it was not necessarily aligned exactly with my own. It was permissible in my family to entertain other’s beliefs without fully incorporating them into my own value and belief system. I did not realize how strongly my own beliefs were until I married into a devout Catholic family. I took the educational courses to convert but when it came time to agree with their basic principles with the priest, I could not do it. That surprised many of my friends who told me to say I did and be done with it. They asked me what the big deal was. The priest however had a differing view and agreed with my final decision. If I could not accept their beliefs, I would not pay lip service to it for a ceremony. My husband agreed and though his family did not like it, we were married outside the Catholic Church. I believe much the same way with my professional ethics, when I took the Nightingale Pledge I meant every word and I review it as well as the American Nursing Association code of ethics and my state nurse practice acts at least once a year. Professional...
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