The Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia is an incredibly empowering document.
It is a call to uphold your questioning. A call to protect the value of quality nursing care. It is a call for accountability. A call for action.
The code has been developed and supported by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Australian College of Nursing, and the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation. It is intended to “provide nurses with a reference point from which to reflect on the conduct of themselves and others” as well as acting as a guide in our ethical decision making and practice.
Many of you are probably aware of the code and some may have read through it. But in my opinion it is really worth taking some time to read through these value statements carefully, reflecting on how this code relates to the clinical environment we work in.
How does this code speak to us with respect to our own experiences of quality care delivery within the hospital system?
What issues does it raise for us?
How does it guide our response?
“Nurses who value quality nursing care recognise that they are accountable for the decisions they make regarding a person’s care; accept their moral and legal responsibilities for ensuring they have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to provide safe and competent nursing care; and practise within the boundaries of their professional role. Nurses who value quality nursing care ensure the professional roles they undertake are in accordance with the agreed practice standards of the profession. Nurses are also entitled to conscientiously refuse to participate in care and treatment they believe on religious or moral grounds to be unacceptable (‘conscientious objection’).
Nurses recognise that people are entitled to quality nursing care, and will strive to secure for them the best available nursing care. In pursuit of this aim, nurses are entitled to participate in decisions regarding a person’s nursing care and are obliged to question nursing care they regard as potentially unethical or illegal. Nurses actively participate in minimising risks for individuals.
Nurses take steps to ensure that not only they, but also their colleagues, provide quality nursing care. In keeping with approved reporting processes, this may involve reporting, to an appropriate authority, cases of unsafe, incompetent, unethical or illegal practice. Nurses also support colleagues whom they reasonably consider are complying with this expectation.
Nurses, individually and collectively, participate in creating and maintaining ethical, equitable, culturally and socially responsive, clinically appropriate and economically sustainable nursing and health care services for all people living in Australia. Nurses value their role in providing health counselling and education in the broader community. Nurses, individually and collectively, encourage professional and public participation in shaping social policies and institutions; advocate for policies and legislation that promote social justice, improved social conditions and a fair sharing of community resources; and acknowledge the role and expertise of community groups in providing care and support for people. This includes protecting cultural practices beneficial to all people, and acting to mitigate harmful cultural practices.”
[Note: sections in bold highlighted by me]
Reference: Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia (pdf).
Developed under the auspices of Australian Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Australian College of Nursing, and the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation.
Original featured image via: COD newsroom.