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Do You Know Your Nursing Code of Ethics?

Written by kimmel52 on November 11, 2008 – 11:48 pm

By Nancy Lydia Kimmel R.N., Ph.D., C.H.M.M.

Nursing is a profession that places on its participants a great responsibility for maintaining the highest possible standards to ensure superior quality of care. Each state has its own Board of Nursing which is responsible for the regulation and licensing of nursing practice. As the profession of nursing continues to grow and change the practicing nurse will bear more responsibility as well as legal accountability for their actions. This truth is evident in the various professional licensures that are available for nurses, such as Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwifes and Nurse Anesthetists. It therefore behooves each licensing board to not only self regulate judiciously but to also refine the scope of nurse practice from time to time. The individual states must also act in accordance with the overall nursing theory in mind. Self regulation is done by continually refining such goals as 1) Defining its scope of nursing practice, 2) Developing a code of ethic, 3) Establishing standards for nursing education and practice and for structures through which nursing services will be delivered,4) Developing a system of credentialing, 5)Providing for peer review and quality assurance, 6) Providing for research and continuing development of the knowledge base for nursing. (Michigan Nurses Association, Legal & Professional Regulation,, Co. 1999, ISBN0-9634643-1-0, Okemos, Michigan)

As with most professions there is a code of ethics that are inherent to each. Nursing is no different. The code for nurses consists of eleven major topics that each nurse across the nation is required to adhere.

Code for Nurses

1. The nurse provides services with respect for human dignity and the uniqueness of the client unrestricted by consideration of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems.

2. The nurse safeguards the client’s right to privacy, by judiciously protecting information of a confidential nature.

3. The nurse acts to safeguard the client and the public when heath care and safety are affected by the incompetent, unethical or illegal practice of any person.

4. The nurse assumes responsibility and accountability for individual nursing judgments and actions.

5. The nurse maintains competence in nursing.

6. The nurse exercises informed judgment and uses individual competence and qualifications as criteria in seeking consultation, accepting responsibilities, and delegating nursing activities to others.

7. The nurse participates in activities that contribute to the ongoing development of the profession’s body of knowledge.

8. The nurse participates in the profession’s efforts to implement and improve standards of nursing.

9. The nurse participates in the profession’s efforts to establish and maintain conditions of employment conducive to high quality nursing care.

10. The nurse participates in the profession’s effort to protect the public from misinformation and misrepresentation and to maintain the integrity of nursing.

11. The nurse collaborates with member so the health professions and other citizens in promoting community and national efforts to meet the health needs of the public. (Michigan Nurses Association, Legal & Professional Regulation,, Co. 1999, ISBN0-9634643-1-0, Okemos, Michigan)

One can interpret from the above Nurse Code that many of the hospitals employ a similar code to their organization for promotion of client health care needs. Some of the principals that hospitals employ include the responsibility of each of its employees to maintain the highest standards of care for each client served, to judiciously guard the privacy of clients, to maintain a safe environment and to take independent action when a situation arises where they are the only one that can act.

There are states that allow nurses that have attained advanced practice degrees to write prescriptions and bill insurance agencies independently. With the health care field burgeoning continuously with a growing aging population, the need for Nurse Practitioners will also continue to grow as well as the responsibilities of the Registered Nurse.

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