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Competence and safety in nursing practice

Question:

Discuss about the Code of Ethics For Nurses in Australia.

The Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia (2006) is supported by The Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia (2008). These two documents set the standards for the nursing practice. The codes together with the other practice standards provide the guidelines for professional and legal nursing practice in the management, clinical, and in the research domain. These codes are intended for various audiences, they include Nursing students, nurses, health workers, and patients. Having this in mind, the essay will discuss how the two documents guide nursing professionals in their clinical practice, this will be supported by relevant references.

According to the codes of conducts, nurses are to practice in a competent and safe manner. In this case, nurses are supposed to provide competent and safe nursingcare. It is the nurse’s responsibility to act competently in their clinical practice. In order for nurses to act and remain competent, they should participate in professional development programs, this is imperative, as it will improve their knowledge and skills relevant to their clinical practice. Further, the safety of the patients is the primary concern in the clinical practice. Therefore, nurses should undertake activities that are within their scope to avoid compromising the safety of patients. In addition, nurses should act in a competent and safe manner without being comprised by their health; this includes the use of substances and alcohol, which will affect the nurse’s ability to practice safely. Thus, if the health of nurses affects the ability of nurses to practice competently and safely, they should seek assistance in order to address the needs of their health.


Nurses are supposed to practice in accordance with the guidelines in the profession and in the health system (Kangasniemi, Pakkanen & Korhonen, 2015). Nurses have a duty of ensuring their standards of practice conform to their professional standards to ensure the safety of the patients. In this case, nurses should practice in accordance with the broader standards of quality and safe health care, such as information management, health documentation, event analysis, and disclosure procedures. The substantial role of nurses is to provide competent and safe nursing care. Therefore, any event that will compromise ethical practice or may hinder the professional practice should be made known. In the case where the issue is not set on and continues to hinder the nursing practice, other nurses should intervene and report the issue to the relevant authority. Finally, nurses should be aware of their professional position, hence, should not accept presents and gifts, which can be viewed as a form of securing favors.

Nurses are to practice in accordance with the laws and regulation relevant to the nursing profession. Nurses should ensure they conduct themselves in an ethical manner. In this case, nurses should ensure their clinical practices are in accordance with the governing delegates or laws. Nurses have an obligation to report unethical practices of a colleague to the relevant authority and to take appropriate actions to protect the public interest. However, in cases where the employer on unethical nurses does not take appropriate actions, nurses are obliged to report the issue to an external authority.

Guidelines for professional and legal nursing practice

According to the codes of ethics for the Australian nurses, nurses are to respect the culture, dignity, ethnicity, beliefs, and values of their colleagues and for the people receiving treatment. In the planning of an effective care, nurses are required to uphold the standards of competent care and culturally informed, this includes considerations and respect of the cultural values, personal wishes, knowledge, and dignity of other people. Nurses should understand that families are constituted in different ways, hence should respect the nature of families. Further, nurses should protect and promote the patient's interest, this includes ensuring quality and safety of care is not hindered by the attitude of race, tribal prejudice, gender, culture, age, sexuality, political, and health status just to mention a few. Nurses should also cease from portraying sexist, racist, ageist, homophobic, and other forms of discrimination to their patients, colleagues, and to other partners. Hence, nurses should take necessary actions if they notice such discriminatory behaviors to the relevant authority. Therefore, when nurses are making a specialized decision relating to the rights and interests of persons, they should not breach the law or contravene the human rights.


The code of ethics direct nurses to treat the information gathered in the course of their clinical practice as private (Green, 2017). In this case, it is both an ethical and legal requirement for nurses to protect the privacy for persons receiving or requiring care. Nurses are restricted to use the information gathered only for professional purposes. However, nurses can disclose the information gathered to other members of the medical team for decision-making purposes. Consequently, where applicable, nurses should seek the approval of the persons receiving care before disclosing such information. In the nonexistence of approval, nurses should use their professional judgment in disclosing the information, in such a case, the nurse should consider the wellbeing, interest, and the safety of the person before making such disclosures (Birks, Davis, Smithson, & Cant, 2016).

Nurses are to provide honest, impartial, and accurate information in regards to the health care products and the nursing care (Casey et al. 2017). Nurses should explain all the disadvantages and the advantages of using a particular product so that individuals can make an informed decision in using the product. In this case, nurses should cease from misinformation, exploitation, and misrepresentation of the health care products. In addition, nurses should accurately disclose accurate information on the nature of nursing care they provide (Green, 2017). Hence, the deception on the nursing care and the endorsement of products for their personal gain is improper and unethical. Therefore, the codes of conduct stipulate that nurses to support the wellbeing, health, and the decisions of the persons receiving care and they should assist persons to make decisions on their health. However, in cases where a person is unwilling or unable to speak independently, nurses should ensure representation by an apt advocate.


Nurses are supposed to preserve and promote the privilege and trust intrinsic in the relationship between the persons receiving care and the nurses (Bernoth, Dietsch, Burmeister & Schwartz, 2014). The intrinsic factor can lead to power balance. The power balance between the nurse and the person receiving care arise in cases where the persons receiving care has limited knowledge, needs assistance, is in pain, and belongs to a minority group just to mention a few. These intrinsic factors between nurses and persons receiving care may make the persons receiving care vulnerable to exploitation. In this case, the intrinsic factors should be recognized and manage by upholding the dignity of the persons they attend through practicing respect and kindness to all. Further, nurses should apply measures to establish trust in order to ensure the emotional, psychological, and wellbeing of the persons receiving care is protected (Birks, Davis, Smithson & Cant, 2016).

Respect for culture, dignity, and values of patients and colleagues

The Australian code of conduct for nurses requires nurses to build and maintain public confidence and trust in the course of their practice (Schmidt, MacWilliams & Neal-Boylan, 2016). Unethical and unlawful practices by nurses adversely affect the reputation of the profession in the public eye. In this case, nurses are supposed to consider the interest of the nursing profession when expressing their rights to speech when participating in academic and political debates. Therefore, it is the obligation of nurses to build and maintain public confidence and trust in the profession always (Schneider & Whitehead, 2013).

Finally, nurses should at all time practice ethically and reflectively. According to the codes of Ethics, nurses should maintain and develop current and appropriate support, nursing advice, and care for all the persons receiving and requiring care, this duty applies also to nurse partners (Cashin, Bryce, Devey, Buckley, Cox & Fisher, 2016). In order for nurses to provide quality of care, they should act competently in accordance with the guiding standards as stipulated in the code of conducts for the Australian nurses. In addition, nurses should not involve themselves in a sexual relationship with the persons under their care as such relationships raise integrity concerns. In the case of intimate or sexual behaviors, the consent cannot be used as a defense. In addition, nurses are not supposed to provide care to persons they have not- professional relationships, if possible, re- assignment of such persons to other nurses should be considered. Therefore, practicing nurses should take rational steps to secure and ensure the safety of the persons receiving their care.


In conclusion, The Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia (2006) and The Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia (2008) are the documents that provide the ethical guidelines to be used in the nursing practice. These codes of conduct are intended for various audiences, they include Nursing students, nurses, health workers, and patients just to mention a few. The purpose of the documents is to set an outline on the standards of conduct expected from the nursing profession. The codes are also formulated to inform the public on the professional standards expected from the Australian nurses. Therefore, Australian nurses are expected to uphold integrity in their clinical practice in order to safeguard the safety of the persons seeking medical care.

References

Cashin, A., Heartfield, M., Bryce, J., Devey, L., Buckley, T., Cox, D., ... & Fisher, M. (2016). Standards for practice for registered nurses in Australia. Collegian.

Schneider, Z., & Whitehead, D. (2013). Nursing and midwifery research: methods and appraisal for evidence-based practice. Elsevier Australia.

Birks, M., Davis, J., Smithson, J., & Cant, R. (2016). Registered nurse scope of practice in Australia: an integrative review of the literature. Contemporary Nurse, 52(5), 522-543.

Green, J. (2017). Nurses’ online behaviour: lessons for the nursing profession. Contemporary Nurse, 1-11.

Murray?Parahi, P., Edgar, V., Descallar, J., Comino, E., & Johnson, M. (2017). ENsCOPE: Scoping the Practice of Enrolled Nurses in an Australian Community Health Setting. International nursing review, 64(1), 59-68.

Casey, M., Cooney, A., O'Connell, R., Hegarty, J. M., Brady, A. M., O'Reilly, P., ... & O'Connor, L. (2017). Nurses', midwives' and key stakeholders' experiences and perceptions on requirements to demonstrate the maintenance of professional competence. Journal of advanced nursing, 73(3), 653-664.

Schmidt, B. J., MacWilliams, B. R., & Neal-Boylan, L. (2016). Becoming Inclusive: A Code of Conduct for Inclusion and Diversity. Journal of Professional Nursing.

Bernoth, M., Dietsch, E., Burmeister, O. K., & Schwartz, M. (2014). Information management in aged care: cases of confidentiality and elder abuse. Journal of business ethics, 122(3), 453-460.

Kangasniemi, M., Pakkanen, P., & Korhonen, A. (2015). Professional ethics in nursing: an integrative review. Journal of advanced nursing, 71(8), 1744-1757.

Schneider, Z., & Whitehead, D. (2013). Nursing and midwifery research: methods and appraisal for evidence-based practice. Elsevier Australia.

Birks, M., Davis, J., Smithson, J., & Cant, R. (2016). Registered nurse scope of practice in Australia: an integrative review of the literature. Contemporary Nurse, 52(5), 522-543.

Casey, M., Cooney, A., O'Connell, R., Hegarty, J. M., Brady, A. M., O'Reilly, P., ... & O'Connor, L. (2017). Nurses', midwives' and key stakeholders' experiences and perceptions on requirements to demonstrate the maintenance of professional competence. Journal of advanced nursing, 73(3), 653-664

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[Accessed 23 February 2024].

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