Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements
The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (the Code) establishes the ethical standard for the profession and provides a guide for nurses to use in ethical analysis and decision-making. The Code is nonnegotiable in any setting. It may be revised or amended only by formal processes established by the American Nurses Association (ANA). The Code arises from the long, distinguished, and enduring moral tradition of modem nursing in the United States. It is foundational to nursing theory, practice, and praxis in its expression of the values, virtues, and obligations that shape, guide, and inform nursing as a profession.
Nursing encompasses the protection, promotion, and restoration of health and well-being; the prevention of illness and injury; and the alleviation of suffering, in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations. All of this is reflected, in part, in nursing’s persisting commitment both to the welfare of the sick, injured, and vulnerable in society and to social justice. Nurses act to change those aspects of social structures that detract from health and well-being. Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements
Individuals who become nurses, as well as the professional organizations that represent them, are expected not only to adhere to the values, moral norms, and ideals or the profession but also to embrace them as a part of what it means to be a nurse. The ethical tradition of nursing is self-reflective, enduring, and distinctive. A code of ethics for the nursing profession makes explicit the primary obligations, values, and ideals of the profession. In fact, it informs every aspect of the nurse’s life.
The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements serves the following purposes:
• It is a succinct statement of the ethical values, obligations, duties, and professional ideals of nurses individually and collectively.
Source: American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Silver Spring, MD: Author.
• It is the profession’s non-negotiable ethical standard. Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements
• It is an expression of nursing’s own understanding of its commitment to society.
Statements that describe activities and attributes of nurses in this code of ethics and its interpretive statements are to be understood as normative or prescriptive statements expressing expectations of ethical behavior. The Code also expresses the ethical ideals of the nursing profession and is, thus, both normative and aspirational. Although this Code articulates the ethical obligations of all nurses, it does not predetermine how those obligations must be met. In some instances nurses meet those obligations individually; in other instances a nurse will support other nurses in their execution of those obligations; at other times those obligations can only and will only be met collectively. ANA’s Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements addresses individual as well as collective nursing intentions and actions; it requires each nurse to demonstrate ethical competence in professional life.
Society recognizes that nurses serve those seeking health as well as those responding to illness. Nurses educate students, staff, and others in healthcare facilities. They also educate within communities, organizations, and broader populations. The term practice refers to the actions of the nurse in any role or setting, whether paid or as a volunteer, including direct care provider, advanced practice registered nurse, care coordinator, educator, administrator, researcher, policy developer, or other forms of nursing practice. Thus, the values and obligations expressed in this edition of the Code apply to nurses in all roles, in all forms of practice, and in all settings. Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements
ANA’s Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements is a dynamic document. As nursing and its social context change, the Code must also change. The Code consists of two components: the provisions and the accompanying interpretive statements. The provisions themselves are broad and noncontextual statements of the obligations of nurses. The interpretive statements provide additional, more specific, guidance in the application of this obligation to current nursing practice. Consequently, the interpretive statements are subject to more frequent revision than are the provisions—approximately every decade—while the provisions may endure for much longer without substantive revision.
Additional ethical guidance and details can be found in the position and policy statements of the ANA or its constituent member associations and affiliate organizations that address clinical, research, administrative, educational, public policy, or global and environmental health issues.
The origins of the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements reach back to the late 1800s in the foundation of ANA, the early ethics literature of modem nursing, and the first nursing code of ethics, which was formally adopted by ANA in 1950. In the 65 years since the adoption of that first professional ethics code, nursing has developed as its art, science, and practice have evolved, as society itself has changed, and as awareness of the nature and determinants of global health has grown. The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements is a reflection of the proud ethical heritage of nursing and a guide for all nurses now and into the future. Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements
In any work that serves the whole of the profession, choices of terminology must be made that are intelligible to the whole community, are as inclusive as possible, and yet remain as concise as possible. For the profession of nursing, the first such choice is the term patient versus client. The term patient has ancient roots in suffering; for millennia the term has also connoted one who undergoes medical treatment. Yet, not all who are recipients of nursing care are either suffering or receiving medical treatment The root of client implies one who listens, leans upon, or follows another. It connotes a more advisory relationship, often associated with consultation or business Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements