Nursing News: Updated Code of Ethics for Nurses

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, January 17th, 2013

The International Council of Nurses’ newly revised “Code of Ethics for Nurses” highlights the importance of work environment and evidence-based practice. Based on contemporary social values and needs, the Code has served as the standard for nurses worldwide since it was adopted in 1953.

“This is a critically timed publication,” David Benton, RN, BSc, MPhil, CEO of the ICN, said in a news release. “Now, more than ever, nurses are facing major ethical dilemmas as governments struggle to contain costs. This publication provides an essential tool, a compass, to help navigate the challenges ahead.”

The 2012 revised edition includes the nurse’s role in developing and sustaining a core of professional values, creating a positive practice environment, maintaining safe, equitable social and economic working conditions, sustaining and protecting the natural environment and contributing to an ethical organizational environment.

The ICN’s code of ethics regularly is reviewed and revised in response to the realities of nursing and healthcare in changing societies. It clarifies that inherent in nursing is respect for human rights, including the right to life, to dignity and to be treated with respect. Able to be used as a guide by nurses in everyday choices, it supports their refusal to participate in activities that conflict with caring and healing.

The 2012 “Code of Ethics for Nurses” is available on the ICN website for downloading ( The ICN asks all nurses to help with its dissemination to schools of nursing, practicing nurses, other health professions, the general public, consumer and policymaking groups, human rights organizations and employers of nurses.

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