An international code of ethics for nurses was first adopted by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in 1953. It has been revised and reaffirmed at various times since, most recently with this review and revision completed in 2012.
The ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses is a guide for action based on social values and needs. It will have meaning only as a living document if applied to the realities of nursing and health care in a changing society. To achieve its purpose the Code must be understood, internalised and used by nurses in all aspects of their work. It must be available to students and nurses throughout their study and work lives.
The ICN Code
- Elements of the Code
- Nurses and people
- Nurses and practice
- Nurses and the profession
- Nurses and co-workers
The Code is regularly reviewed and revised in response to the realities of nursing and health care in a changing society. The Code makes it clear that inherent in nursing is respect for human rights, including the right to life, to dignity and to be treated with respect.
The ICN Code of Ethics guides nurses in everyday choices and it supports their refusal to participate in activities that conflict with caring and healing.
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To be effective the ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses must be familiar to nurses. We encourage you to help with its dissemination to schools of nursing, practising nurses, the nursing press and other mass media. The Code should also be disseminated to other health professions, the general public, consumer and policy-making groups, human rights organisations and employers of nurses.