Nursing Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics as it pertains to nurses was chosen by this group as all members are Registered Nurses; we did not intend to exclude any of our colleagues by doing so.

When providing care to any persons, nurses must abide by the Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses as outlined by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the national professional body for nurses across Canada.

“The code provides guidance for ethical relationships, responsibilities, behaviours and decision-making, and it is to be used in conjunction with the professional standards, laws and regulations that guide practice” (CNA, 2008, p.2).

The Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses is a set of ethical values that act as guiding principles for nursing practice. It consists of seven principles, which are outlined below. As well, various aspects of each principle are also listed.

Providing safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care (CNA, 2008)
  • Nurses are expected to conduct themselves in accordance to ethical responsibilities
  • Compassionate care is demonstrated through speech, body language and efforts to empathize with the client
  • Trustworthy relationships are considered to be the foundation of meaningful communication
  • Nurses admit mistakes and take necessary actions to prevent harm and future risks
  • Question and address unsafe, unethical, or incompetent practices

Promoting health and well-being (CNA, 2008)
  • Priority of care is directed towards the well-being of the person(s) in care
  • Advocate for the rights of the person(s)
  • Collaborate with other health-care providers to maximize health benefit for the person(s)

Promoting and respecting informed decision-making (CNA, 2008)
  • Provide information in an open, accurate, and transparent manner to person(s) in care to make informed decisions
  • Respect wishes of capable person(s) in care to decline to receive information
  • Ensure nursing care is provided with a person(s) informed consent.
  • Respect decisions made by person(s) in care regarding treatment or lifestyle

Preserving dignity (CNA, 2008)
  • All persons are to be treated with respect and the nurse supports person(s) in care in maintaining dignity and integrity
  • Unique values, customs, spiritual beliefs, social and economic circumstances are taken into consideration.
  • Respect privacy of person(s) by minimizing intrusions and providing care in a discreet manner
  • Nurses maintain appropriate professional boundaries

Maintaining privacy and confidentiality (CNA, 2008)
  • Respect the right of all individuals to have control over the collection, use, access and disclosure of their personal information
  • Take reasonable measures to prevent confidential information from being overheard
  • Collect, use and disclose health information on a need-to-know basis with the highest degree of anonymity possible and in accordance to privacy laws
  • Advocate for client access to their own health-care records
  • Respect policies that protect client(s) privacy – including safeguards in information technology

Promoting justice (CNA, 2008)
  • Do not discriminate on the basis of ANY attribute (ex. Race, gender, lifestyle, socio-economic status)
  • Refrain from utilizing negative and demeaning behaviours towards person(s) in care
  • Advocate for fair treatment and distribution of resources for person(s) in care
  • Question the status quo

Being accountable (CNA, 2008)
  • Practice in accordance to the Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses
  • Are honest and practice with integrity
  • Practice within the limits of their competence and maintain their fitness to practice
  • Identify and address conflicts of interest
  • Share knowledge and provide feedback