Johns Hopkins releases ethics report for modern-day nurses

A new report from the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics highlights a number of ethical issues facing nurses in the healthcare industry, in the wake of the first National Nursing Ethics Summit at the university earlier this year as well as the world-wide Ebola virus hype.

Nurses in every setting from hospitals to homecare face ethical pressures that arise from various situations that can contribute to problems in access to care, and that prevent nurses from practicing in accordance with their values, according to the report, "A Blueprint for 21th Century Nursing Ethics: Report of the National Nursing Summit." It examines four areas: clinical practice, nursing education, nursing research and nursing policy.

In clinical practice, the industry must develop and sustain work environments that support ethical nursing by creating tools and guidelines for fostering that work environment, evaluating those tools in practice and making the results of those evaluations easy and accessible, according to the report. The industry must also promote excellence in nursing ethics education by developing recommendations for preparing faculty to teach those ethics effectively, in order to build a strong and diverse healthcare workforce and advance the ethical delivery of healthcare.

Nursing leaders should develop a research agenda that will lead to a culture of ethical practice in diverse settings, according to the report. The strategy should be evidence-based and measurable in order to improve quality of care, clinical outcomes, costs, and impact on staff and the work environment, according to the report. When it comes to policy there needs to be development in measurement and evaluation criteria to assess workplace culture and moral distress among nurses, which will foster a more ethically healthy environment.

"It's our hope this will serve as a blueprint for cultural change that will more fully support nurses in their daily practice and ultimately improve how healthcare is administered--for patients, their families and nurses," said Cynda Hylton Rushton, Ph.D., R.N., the Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Berman Institute of Bioethics, and lead organizer of the summit. "We want to start a movement within nursing and our healthcare system to address the ethical challenges embedded in all settings where nurses work.". 

To learn more:
- read the report