Any profession has a set of rules that its employees live by. These codes give employees a set of guidelines by which they can perform their jobs to the best of their ability. The field of nursing is no different. There is a developed code of ethics that each nurse must agree to follow. This code includes:
Throughout history, patients weren’t guaranteed much in the way of rights. That changed, officially, in 1973, when the American Hospital Association passed the Patient’s Bill of Rights. These rights were revised in 1992 and continue to be followed today. Your patients are required to be informed of their rights each time they are admitted to the hospital. If you fail to notify your patients of these rights, you will be in violation of federal law.
Your patients must be, when possible, given the right to assist in their own healthcare. This means that no procedure can be performed without informed consent. Your patient must understand the need for the procedure, how it will be performed and the desired outcome. The decisions that your patients make, based upon their own religious or moral beliefs, must be followed, whether or not you agree with those decisions. For example, some religions reject the administration of blood that is foreign to their body. If you don’t respect these wishes, and supply your patient with blood, you can, and most likely will, lose your license.
3.Beneficence and Nonmaleficence
As a nurse, you agree to do good, not harm, to your patients. This is the definition of beneficence. You also agree to prevent intentional harm, or nonmaleficence. As a nurse, you will be responsible for reporting any illegal, unsafe or unethical practices as conducted by any person. When you make a decision for your patient, in adherence to the patient’s stated wishes, you must weigh the potential benefit of your patient against any potential harm.
In the field of nursing, all people are treated equally. This means that no matter the budget you are given, you may not give special treatment to one group over another. For instance, if you have a soft spot in your heart for children, you are not permitted to offer these young people better care than you would to the elderly. Likewise, you must treat people equally, no matter socio-economic status, culture, race, gender or sexual orientation.
You’ve heard the term fidelity as it results to marriage; it’s a concept that relates to commitment. Fidelity, in the field of nursing, means that you accept accountability for your actions. You understand that you are responsible to yourself, your facility, society, the government and your patients. Nurses must be committed to providing the best possible care, at all times, while remaining accountable for the decisions that they make and the actions they take.
As a nurse, you will live by a code. These rules, as it were, will come into play, whether consciously or not, each time that you make a decision for patient care. While they may seem cumbersome when you first enter the field, these rules will help you perform your duties in a consistent, ethical way each time you clock in for your shift.
Eryn Greene is an avid blogger. If you’d like an advanced career in nursing, apply for an advanced degree in nursing such as the msn offered at the University of San Francisco or Georgetown University.
University of San FranciscoWikipedia: The University of San Francisco is a Jesuit Catholic university located in San Francisco, California, United States. →