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from the late 19th century up until the present time, and the implications of these developments for the nursing profession across the globe, have already been comprehensively documented and thus there is nothing to be gained by rehearsing this history here (see Johnstone 2015a, 2015b, 2015c).Learning objectives By the end of the chapter, you should be able: - To appreciate the importance of ethics in nursing - To understand core ethical principles and apply these to practice - To understand the importance of confidentiality ).Evidence-based practice is vital, as it can minimise the risk of harm.
It is important to distinguish ethics from morals: ethics are concerned with right and wrong, while morals refer to individual behaviours and beliefs.
Moral reasoning may be used to inform ethics in practice, but ethical judgements are generally agreed on by a wider body of individuals, eliminating the personal perspectives that may influence moral actions.
Examples of non-maleficence include stopping a medication that is causing harmful side effects, or discontinuing a treatment strategy that is not effective and may be harmful.
Beneficence means 'do good', and promotes actions that benefit the patient.
systematic rules or principles governing right conduct.
Each practitioner, upon entering a profession, is invested with the responsibility to adhere to the standards of ethical practice and conduct set by the profession.The number of core principles varies; however, four key principles are generally recognised: non-maleficence, beneficence, autonomy, and justice. Any action should not cause unnecessary harm or suffering to the patient and should be justified by ethical and professional judgement and guidance.This includes both physical and psychological harm.Application of ethics can be objective or relative, depending.Objective ethical reasoning implies that a situation has a clear right or wrong course, such as the decision to administer emergency care to a patient in need.There is often a need to balance the potential for a treatment to do good and do harm, particularly when administering drugs with side effects, or in patients with complex care needs.Balancing non-maleficence and beneficence is important, and requires careful consideration.A number of core ethical principles are recognised in the healthcare setting.These provide a basis for complex decision-making by weighing up multiple factors and consequences of the care process.Ethical systems of care rely on a general agreement whereby specific activities are considered to be beneficial or detrimental to patient wellbeing.Ethical theories provide a framework for interactions with clients or service users.