NEW YORK NURSE: April 2008
Q.: I know that there is a Code of Ethics for Nurses but why did the ANA revise the statement in 2001?
A.: The Code of Ethics for Nurses has an extensive history dating back to the Nightingale Pledge in 1893. The pledge mirrored the Hippocratic Oath of medicine and established nursing’s fundamental principles of “doing no harm, of benefiting others, of loyalty and of truthfulness.” It was officially established in 1896 as the Code for Nurses by the Nurses’ Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (later known as the American Nurses Association or ANA).
Throughout the past 105 years, the Code has undergone several amendments and revisions which have reflected the changing healthcare environment, social justice, and the autonomy of the nurse and the patient. In consideration of nursing’s awareness of moral challenges, social changes, global expansion, the impact of the human condition and the evolving healthcare environment, the ANA established the Code of Ethics Project Task Force in 1995. This group created a standardized process of review and revision for the Code for Nurses. As a dynamic, invaluable tool for all nurses, the Code makes a promise to our patients and communities: Nurses will provide the best care possible and support each other to this end.
The Code of Ethics for Nurses serves as:
The 2001 Code contains nine provisions with interpretative statements, which provide “specificity for practice and are responsive to the contemporary context of nursing.” Provisions 1-3 are reminders of the primary values and commitments of the nurse, provisions 4-6 provide the framework for duty and loyalty, and provisions 7-9 describe duties that extend beyond each patient encounter.
As the world grows smaller, nurses must become aware of, understand, and integrate into their practice the values and cultures of multiple individuals, families, and communities. This process can be difficult and time-consuming, and is compounded with the moral and ethical values we bring with us into the profession. The Code of Ethics is an important guide to assist and support nurses in the process of interfacing with the resulting dilemmas, and to enable safe, quality nursing care. The Code allows nurses continuity in assisting and educating the public regarding healthcare decisions, protecting and advocating for patients and the community, empowering collegial advancement, and supporting the global advancement of health.
To read or purchase the Code of Ethics with Interpretative Statements, go to www.nursingworld.org. Click on “Professional Nursing Practice,” then “Ethics & Standards.”
This is a sample of the questions NYSNA’s experts answer each day. The advice given is specific for the situation described and may not be applicable generally. If you have questions about your own work setting, it is recommended that you contact your NYSNA Nursing Representative or the Education, Practice, and Research Program, 11 Cornell Road, Latham, New York 12110-1499 or call 800-724-NYRN, ext. 282.