Ethical principles are fundamental to the nursing profession as they ensure patients receive care with professionalism and integrity. By understanding ethical principles, nurses can provide compassionate, patient-centered care that upholds professional standards.

In this blog, we will explore the core ethical principles in nursing and how they shape how we deliver healthcare services. Join us on this journey as we dive into the heart of nursing ethics and gain insight into how one can become a better nurse.

History of the Nursing Code of Ethics

The Nursing Code of Ethics is a set of principles that guides the professional conduct of nurses. It has its roots in the Hippocratic Oath, which has been a valuable guide for healthcare professionals for centuries. The modern version of the Nursing Code of Ethics was developed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1950. Over the years, the Nursing Code of Ethics has undergone some changes to keep pace with the evolving needs of patients and nurses.

The Nursing Code of Ethics helps nurses provide high-quality care based on ethical principles. It covers a range of ethical issues, including patient confidentiality, informed consent, and the duty to provide care without discrimination. It also emphasizes the importance of maintaining professional boundaries and upholding the integrity of the nursing profession.

What Are the 7 Ethical Principles in Nursing?


Nursing is a profession that requires a high degree of ethical responsibility, as nurses are entrusted with the care and well-being of patients. To ensure that ethical standards are upheld, nurses must adhere to a set of fundamental ethical principles in their practice. These principles are based on the guidelines established by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and form an essential framework for nursing practice.

1. Accountability

The ethical principle of accountability is critical to nursing, as it requires nurses to uphold professional and ethical standards in their practice and to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. By doing so, nurses can prioritize patient safety and well-being and address any mistakes or errors promptly and effectively.

To demonstrate accountability, nurses must take ownership of their work and interactions with patients and colleagues. They must also maintain transparency and honesty in their documentation and communication, ensuring their actions align with the highest standards of care and conduct.

Ultimately, the accountability ethic promotes trust and confidence in the nursing profession, fostering a culture of excellence and professionalism.

2. Nonmaleficence


Nonmaleficence is a crucial ethical principle that forms the foundation of nursing practice. It requires nurses to prioritize their patients’ safety by avoiding any actions or inactions that could cause harm. To uphold this principle, nurses must carefully evaluate the risks and benefits of all treatment options and take proactive steps to minimize the potential for harm.

Nonmaleficence means that nurses must be vigilant, observant, and proactive in identifying and addressing potential risks and hazards while promoting healing, health, and well-being.

3. Fidelity

Fidelity in nursing refers to the ethical principle of being faithful and committed to providing the best care possible to patients. It involves being truthful and reliable and keeping promises made to patients.

Fidelity is important in nursing as it helps to establish trust between patients and healthcare providers, which is crucial for the success of any intervention. It also promotes patient autonomy, respect, and dignity, which are fundamental components of quality nursing care.

4. Beneficence


Beneficence emphasizes nurses’ obligation to promote their patient’s well-being and interests. It involves actions that aim to do good, improve health outcomes, and enhance the patient’s overall welfare.

By prioritizing the patient’s needs and interests, the principle of beneficence helps ensure that nurses provide high-quality care and treatment, taking into account each patient’s unique circumstances and needs.

In practice, nurses can uphold this principle by providing compassionate, patient-centered care, addressing their patient’s concerns, and actively engaging in health promotion and disease prevention strategies.

5. Autonomy

Autonomy in nursing refers to the ethical principle that recognizes an individual’s right to make informed decisions regarding their care. It is vital in nursing because it promotes patient empowerment and respect for their own choice. By providing patients with information, various options, and support, nurses can enable them to make decisions that align with their values, beliefs, and preferences.

The autonomy ethic also promotes open communication and collaboration between nurses and patients, fostering a strong relationship that enhances the quality of care.

6. Justice

Justice ethics in nursing ensures that all individuals receive fair and equal healthcare regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity, or social status. It is crucial in nursing as it helps to promote and ensure equitable distribution of resources and opportunities in healthcare.

It also helps nurses to identify and address social justice issues that may affect the health of their patients and advocate for policies and practices that promote health equity.

7. Veracity

Veracity is an essential ethical principle in nursing that emphasizes honesty and truthfulness in all interactions with patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues. It requires nurses to be truthful and transparent when providing information about a patient’s health status, treatment options, and outcomes.

Veracity helps build trust between the nurse and the patient, which is crucial in establishing a strong relationship that fosters healing and recovery. It also supports informed decision-making by the patient, who needs accurate and truthful information to choose their care. Ultimately, it upholds the profession’s commitment to integrity and ethical practice.

Why Are Ethical Principles Important in Nursing?


Ethical principles are crucial in nursing as they provide a framework for nurses to uphold and maintain the highest standards of patient care. These principles are built on respect, compassion, and empathy, which form the core of nursing practice.

As caregivers, nurses are responsible for upholding the ethical principles that respect a patient’s right to privacy, dignity, informed consent, and confidentiality. This is especially important when patients are in vulnerable situations and may not be able to advocate for themselves.

Another significant benefit of ethical principles in nursing is that they ensure that nurses make informed decisions that are in the best interests of their patients. By adhering to ethical principles, nurses can provide their patients with the highest quality of care while maintaining their professional integrity. This, in turn, helps to build trust and confidence in the nursing profession.

Moreover, ethical principles in nursing also promote a positive work environment. Nurses who work in a culture of respect and professionalism are more likely to feel supported, empowered, and motivated. This contributes to better patient outcomes and a more fulfilling work experience for nurses.

The Bottom Line

Nursing ethics are crucial for ensuring that patients receive high-quality, compassionate care. By adhering to ethical principles, such as autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice, nurses can make well-informed decisions that uphold the dignity and rights of their patients.

In today’s rapidly changing healthcare landscape, it is more important than ever for nurses to prioritize ethical considerations. Doing so fosters trust not only with patients but also with other healthcare providers and the wider community. Ultimately, by upholding ethical standards, nurses can ensure that they are providing the best possible care and positively impacting the lives of those they serve. Therefore, if you’re considering applying to a nursing school, you should know that you will be expected to adhere to these principals throughout your nursing career.