Ethical principles provide criteria on which to base judgements in relation to ethical theories.
Ethical principles include:
- Beneficence - to do good
- Non-maleficence - to do no harm
- Respect for Autonomy
The Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Standards, Performance and Ethics for Nurses and Midwives (NMC, 2015) is underpinned by ethical principles.
To practice in an ethically sound professional manner it is necessary to balance ethical considerations, with professional values and relevant legislation. The essence of ethical practice at all levels involves an individual, or team identifying what the legal, ethical and professional standards required are and how these can be caring and compassionately applied to the challenges of clinical practice.
Implications for advanced practice:
- advanced practice as a higher level of practice requires practitioners to demonstrate expertise and advanced practitioners can sometimes be uncertain about their accountability and responsibility in relation to ethical and legal issues
- advanced nursing role generally involves greater leadership, responsibility, autonomy and decision-making
- advanced practitioners may also be called upon, or invited, to share their expertise by involvement in developing policies, procedures or guidance which will affect the practice of others
- when facilitating learning or being involved in research the advanced practitioner requires to be knowledgeable about specific ethical aspects, requirements or policies specifically related to these areas and be able to give advice
Taking all of these into account highlights the need for advanced practitioners to have a greater awareness and understanding of competent ethical decision-making.