Two major themes of nursing obligation return to the work of Florence Nightingale, administrator, statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale's foundational views of nursing included the development of healing environments as a nursing responsibility and nurses' obligations to protect patient confidentiality. Both themes point to an ethics of institutional and social obligations as well as obligations to individual patients. These themes are juxtaposed in current discussions of ethics in nursing and in today's debates about the value foundations of reforming the delivery of health care.
A resurgence of more explicit attention to ethics in research, education, and nursing practice emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s. In the late 1970s ethics in nursing began to emphasize advocacy for individual patients, respect for patient autonomy and promotion of patients' rights in health care institutions, a search for more autonomy in nursing practice, and the development of a more holistic approach to nursing care. Individual autonomy was a major item on the ethics agenda in nursing, as it was in much of medical ethics.
According to the expert analysis, reflection on the association of ethics in the nursing profession and present efforts to improvemen ...