The year 2015 has been designated as the Year of Ethics by the American Nurses Association coinciding with the release of their revised Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. This is the first revision of the Code of Ethics since 2001 and the result of a 4-year review process.
Ethical issues are an ever-present challenge in health care, particularly in the intensive care environment. Critical care nurses are frequently at the intersection of the sophisticated technologically driven care we can provide to our complex, critically ill patients and the difficult decisions patients and families must make as to how, when, and whether that care should be chosen.
The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics hosted a National Nursing Ethics Summit in August with 50 nurse-leader participants from across the United States. These leaders discussed and identified priorities in 4 main domains in which ethics and nursing intersect: clinical practice, research, public policy, and education. Together, they created a “Blueprint for 21st Century Nursing Ethics,” identifying progressive ways to move the agenda forward to address ethics gaps in these 4 areas. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is one of several professional nursing organizations that have partnered with Johns Hopkins and endorsed the Blueprint. To review the Executive Summary of the Summit, you can go to: http://www.aacn.org/wd/practice/docs/executive-summary-final.pdf
What resources are available for you to learn more about ethics in health care today, how can you support the dialogue about ethics, and in what ways can you address the moral distress you may experience regarding ethical dilemmas you encounter?
These are just some of the resources available to support education, collaboration, and advocacy for nurses and colleagues to optimally practice according to professional ethical values.
Mary Fran Tracy, RN, PhD, CCNS