Nursing Ethical principles


Ethical Principles are guidelines that can apply to situations to decide whether they are morals or immoral in nursing practice; it is not
always practical to refer to the entire ethical theories for decision-making.
Nurses often look toward narrower, more specific ethical principles to
guide their judgment and decisions.


– The word autonomy IS derived from the Latin word auto meaning “self’, and nomy meaning “control”.

– Autonomy is the right of individuals to govern their actions according to their own reasons and purposes.

– Respect for autonomy requires that a person honor another’s right to govern him/or herself

– Autonomy has certain limitations such as: when the rights of one individual interfere with the rights of another; and when there is a high probability that a person may injury himself or herself or others. Thus,
individuals have the freedom to choose whether or not to seek and accept
health care .

–  Factors such as immaturity, physical or mental incapacity may decrease
one’s autonomy.

Informed consent

– Informed consent is the permission obtained from a patient to have a test or procedure performed after the patient has been fully informed about the test or procedure.

– The consent mayor may not be in writing, but a written consent provides better legal protection for health care providers.

– Patients must give the consent voluntarily without coerCIOn or persuasion. Moreover, they must be mentally competent (having mental and psychological capacity to make decisions).

Vulnerable people Those who cannot consent-such as:

• Children
•Vulnerable adults
– Patients who are unconscious, have serious or enduring mental health problems, some older people and some individuals with learning disabilities may lack competence, either temporarily or pennanently.

– In clinical situation, this means that a physician describes the procedure and/or surgery to the patient in terms understood by the patient. The description includes potential benefits of the patient as well as possible risks and should not imply any guarantee of results. Nurses frequently seek expressed consent from patients in a consent form. They are obligated to ensure that: The patient is given appropriate infonnation; able to understand the information, and voluntarily agrees to the test or procedures.



– Veracity concerns truth tell ing and incorporates the concept that individuals should always tell the truth. This principle also compels that the truth be completely told.

There arc three levels of veracity:

• fully disclosing information;
• withholding information;
• And giving false information.

– In health care, family members will often request health care providers not to tell their loved ones the truth about their diagnosis or prognosis. When the patient has a terminal diagnosis such as cancer, health care providers, may have difficulty sharing thus information with patient that will result in unhappiness anxiety, depression or fear.



– Confidentiality means that information entrusted to professionals in the line of duty should not be revealed to others.

– AU health professions include in their professional code a requirement to preserve the confidentiality of health infonnation, which is considered an integral component of the nurse-patient relationship.

– In the course of caring for a patient, nurses get to know many things about that person. The patient must feel that he or she and the nurse are in a relationship of trust and confidence for such information to be shared

– In nursing practice, nurses control the breach of speech and careless use of technology. “Elevator talk” is the most common spoken breach of confidentiality. Other breaches may result from the use (It’ paging phones in the cafeteria and the reading of reports over the phone by transcriptions


Beneficence and Non-maleficence

– Beneficence is drive from Latin word “bene” means “good” and “ficence” means “to do/or make” .
– Beneficence then means “doing good” while non-maleficence refers to refraining from doing harm.

– Non-maleficence is the principle that obliges us not to inflict harm intentionally or unintentionally.

Implies a duty:

• Do no harm,

• Avoid harm,
• Prevent harm
– The principle of beneficence states that the actions one takes should be done in an effort to promote good. The concept of non-maleficence, which is associated with beneficence. says that if one cannot do good, then he/she should at least do not harm.



– Justice is the professional obligation to be fair, equitable, and appropriate treatment to all individuals.

– It concerns the issue that all the individuals have the right to be treated equally and fairly regardless of their sex, race, social class or religion.

– The term distributive justice refers to fair, equitable, and appropriate distribution of resources and opportunities within society. Problems of distributive justice arise under conditions of scarcity, competition, and unequal access to health care.


– allows one to make decisions for another. It assist person to make decisions when they do not have sufficient data or expertise



Fidelity is the individual’s obligation to keep the commitments he/she has made. It holds that a person should faithfully fulfill his/her duties and obligations.


Respect for others

– Respect for others means the respect for the human dignity. It acknowledges the right of individuals to make decisions and to live by these decisions. This principles also transcends cultural difference s gender issues, and racial concerns to name some specific examples.

– In the context of health care, respect for others basically means treating patients as people with right.

– It mean; further respecting the autonomy of individuals and protecting those who Suffer  , loss of autonomy through ilness, injury or mental disorder, and working In restore autonomy to those who have lost it. It means recognizing that patients have basic human rights such as the right to know, the right to privacy and the right to receive care and treatment.



– This principle reflects a belief in utilitarianism. “What is best for the common good outweighs what is best for the individual”.
Purpose of Ethical Principles
• Establish common ground between nurse, patient, family, other health care professionals, and society to discuss ethical questions and make ethical decisions

• Permit people to take a consistent position on specific or related Issues

• Provide an analytical framework  by which moral problems can be evaluated

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