Nursing Ethics


5edef874e28cd16c27e2aede85971569Ethics is defined as the standards or principles of moral judgment or actions. It provides a methodical system in differentiating right from wrong basing on a certain belief.

Significance in profession

Ethics reflects the standards that govern a proper conduct in a particular profession. For instance, the nurse on duty knows that she is obligated to act for the good of the client and to prevent any incident to harm the patient. This principle of doing no harm to the client is the intervention of knowing the ethics in nursing.

Values, Morals and Ethics

To formulate an ethical decision, the nurse should gain knowledge on the situation taking a look at all angles to promote maximal benefit to the client. Aside from scrutinizing every possible aspect of the problem the nurse should be able to understand the relationship between values, morals and ethics.

The values of the client, nurse and society and so as the morals interact to set the environment for ethical behavior. If in a given situation the value systems of the nurse, client and society is opposing, an ethical dilemma will most likely occur. A dilemma is a situation with unsatisfactory alternatives or options. Ethical dilemma requires the medical team to make challenging and difficult decisions regarding the possible best way to care for the patients.

Values are operational beliefs an individual chooses as the basis for behavior which can change over time. These beliefs serve as the building blocks of moral and ethical development. Values influence not only the behavior but also the decision making of a person. It could be based on the following:

  • Experience
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Culture
  • Professional peer group

Morals are personal opinion or principle that a particular action or behavior is absolutely right or wrong in all situations. Usually a person is reluctant or unwilling to change his personal opinions on specific issues of a moral nature. For instance, some people view abortion a totally wrong and there is no justifiable excuse for it. However, some hold the belief that aborting a fetus is better rather than improperly rearing a child.

Ethics in Nursing

Nursing ethics provides the standards of professional behavior for nurses and the principles of knowing right from a wrong conduct during implementation of nursing duties and responsibilities. Through this set of standards, nursing duties and responsibilities of nurses towards their clients, co-workers, profession and community is made known. It promotes the philosophical and theological study of morality, moral judgments and moral problems. The three types of ethics are the following:

  1. Descriptive ethics – this type of ethics provides an accurate and realistic narration of moral behaviors without producing a moral judgment.
  2. Metaethics – the center of this type is on reasonable and justifiable judgments. It is basically concerned with theoretical issues of meaning and its justification.
  3. Normative ethics – with this classification, a question is raised about what is right or wrong. Something should be done in a situation that calls for an ethical decision. For instance, a teenager who is maintaining a scholarship is pregnant. She is to decide whether she will abort the baby to avoid issues and being kicked out of the school or sustain the pregnancy and deliver the baby.

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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