The Code of Ethics for Nurses establishes ethical principles in nursing. Far more than just words on paper, the code is nursing’s north star. It governs how nurses behave during the vulnerable moments when patients place their trust, their care and perhaps even life and death decisions into their hands.
Established by the American Nurses Association (ANA), the Code of Ethics for Nurses “informs every aspect of the nurse’s life.” As such, the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses is the profession’s non-negotiable standard.
It’s also a dynamic document, and one that has responded over time to healthcare, technological and social changes.
The origins of nursing ethics reach back to the late 1800s — a far different era when nurses weren’t viewed as valued members of a healthcare team as they are today. And concepts like justice in nursing? Well, let’s just say that wasn’t a thing back then.
Times have changed.
Formally adopted by the ANA in 1950, the Code of Ethics is revised approximately every decade to keep pace with advances in healthcare and technology, greater awareness of global health, greater inclusivity and the expansion of nursing into advanced practice roles, such as the family nurse practitioner. Today, there are four principles of nursing ethics and nine provisions that guide practice.