Revising the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics

2014 - 4 August - Ethics in Critical Care
Martha Turner, PhD, RN-BC
The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics is undergoing revision. Martha Turner, PhD, RN-BC, Assistant Director of the ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights, provides an update on this process.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements supports the standards and ideals of nursing service. It is a living document to guide all nurses in all roles and settings. It articulates both the values and the ideals of the profession. This legacy had its beginning with Florence Nightingale in 1850. The last major revision of the code was published in 2001. Upon the recommendation of the Ethics Advisory Board to the ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights that the code be reviewed every 10 years, an ANA working group was formed in 2012 and charged with the question, “What, if any, changes should be made to the code?” A 123-item survey was posted to query nurses and the public on the need for changes and updates. Data were collected during February and March 2013.  Over 2,700 responses were received and analyzed in a detailed report.  Survey results revealed that Provisions One through Seven were still relevant and needed only minor changes to update language. Provisions Eight and Nine required major revision due to developments in healthcare delivery, nursing advocacy, technology, and global health. The working group determined that revision was needed, including an updated preface to serve as a compelling summary of overarching ethical themes with a call to all nurses in all roles and settings to commit to the values and ideals of the code.  Following an ANA request to members for participation, a small steering committee and larger advisory group were formed for the revision process. 

The revised code was posted for public comment for one month during spring 2014.  Over 1,500 comments were considered for changes to the final draft. After the steering committee and the ANA Ethics Advisory Board review these comments and agree on the changes, the revised code will go to the ANA Board of Directors for final approval later this year. Publication is expected in early 2015. When published, the revised code will be indexed to facilitate navigation to key words and will include an introduction, glossary of terms and a resource list. The ANA thanks all who participated in this review and revision process.  For additional information, please contact Martha Turner at martha.turner@ana.org or Director Laurie Badzek at laurie.badzek@ana.org.