The American Nursing Association

The American Nursing Association published a code of ethics for nurses in 2001. Under provision 2. 1 entitled Primacy of the Patient’s interest it is said that the nurse’s primary commitment is to the recipient of nursing and health care service –the patient – whether the recipient is an individual, a family, a group, or a community. Nursing holds a fundamental commitment to the uniqueness.

The nurse strives to provide the patients with opportunities to participate in planning care, assures that patients find the plans acceptable and support the implementation of the plan. Addressing patient interest requires recognition of the patient’s place in the family or other networks of relationship. When the patients’ wishes are in conflict with others, the nurse seeks to help resolve the conflict. Where conflict persists, the nurse’s commitment remains to the identified patient.

(Code of Ethics for Nurses, 2001) The American Nursing Association supports the professional obligation of nurses to safeguard their patients. One prominent violation in under this provision was found in a report in New York Times entitled “ Illegal Sterilization is Reported in Australia’ about the practice of physicians and nurses in involuntary sterilization of people with (or believed to have) mental retardation. This practice was found to be common in the United States until 1970’s and remain in effect elsewhere.

(cited in Medical Ethics and Human Rights, 2003). Another case of forced sterilization on women patients was found in the Indian state of Kerala where health professionals cooperated in government population control programs that often coerced poor women into consenting to be sterilized. Women reported being herded into clinics like animals to undergo sterilization operations at the hands of state physicians. (Reproductive Health Matters, as cited in Medical Ethics and Human Rights, 2003).

Health professionals in South Africa prescibed injectable contraceptives for black women after childbirth as a result of national policies that made the control of black people’s reproduction a primary objective that did not reflect the choices made by the women (Baldwin-Ragaven, de Gruchy, and London, as cited in ited in Medical Ethics and Human Rights, 2003) Professional nurses are accountable for nursing judgments and actions regardless of the personal consequences.

Providing safe nursing care to the patient is the ultimate objective of the professional nurse and the health care facility. The American Nurses Association (ANA) believes that nurses should reject any assignment that puts patients or themselves in serious, immediate jeopardy. ANA supports the nurses obligation to reject an assignment in these situations even where there is not a specific legal protection for rejecting such an assignment.

The professional obligations of the nurse to safeguard clients are grounded in the ethical norms of the profession, the Standards of Clinical Nursing Practice and state nurse practice acts. (Medical Ethics and Human Rights, 2003)


American Nursing Association (2001) ANA, Code of Ethics for Nurses, Washington, D. C. , American Nurses Publishing Available online: http://www. nursingworld. org/ethics/code/protected_nwcoe303. htm#2. 1 Physician for Human Rights (2003) Medical Ethics and Human Rights. PHR. Available online : http://www. phrusa. org/healthrights/dl_2. html

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