Reforms in the Nursing Code of Ethics Aim to Modernize Care

In January 2015, the American Nurses Association revised their Code of Ethics for the first time since 2001, Nurse.com reports.

The recent revisions are the result of an 18-month process that drew from the insight of some of the United States’ most experienced nurses. The new Code of Ethics touches upon nearly all conceivable aspects of the nursing profession, from providing appropriate end-of-life care to how to handle oneself on social media.

The Code of Ethics has a long history, dating back to 1896, according to Nurse.com. Since then, the Code has evolved into a document of nine provisions and several subsequent interpretive statements that assist nurses in understanding and applying its guidelines. The new revisions process is the first in over 25 years that features revisions in both the nine provisions and the interpretive statements.

The new Code of Ethics touches upon several delicate and difficult issues that nurses face every day on the job. One of the more controversial inclusions in the new Code is a subject that deals with the issue of medically-assisted suicide and euthanasia, a topic that is hotly contested in politics and between ideological groups. Nurse.com reports that the new Code formally prevents any nurse from administering any medicine or treatment that will end the life of a patient, even if that situation comes up in the execution of death-row inmates. The guidelines make it clear that no nurse, anywhere, under any circumstance, should administer a lethal injection.

The American Nursing Association also had to tweak their documents in light of recent technological and social advances, specifically concerning social media. The new mandates that nurses pay extra close attention to not violating patient confidentiality with their personal social media accounts. Nurses who post about the condition of some of their patients on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook violate the secrecy and privacy of patients, which the new Code of Ethics deems unacceptable.

The Code of Ethics is just one of the reasons why nursing is consistently rated at the top of the list for honest and ethical professions, Nurse.com reports. Surely, the newly revised Code will uphold the industry’s impressive reputation.

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