Moral accountability and integrity in nursing practice

Nurs Clin North Am. 2009 Dec;44(4):423-34. doi: 10.1016/j.cnur.2009.07.006.


The therapeutic nature of the nurse-patient relationship is grounded in an ethic of caring. Florence Nightingale envisioned nursing as an art and a science...a blending of humanistic, caring presence with evidence-based knowledge and exquisite skill. In this article, the author explores the caring practice of nursing as a framework for understanding moral accountability and integrity in practice. Being morally accountable and responsible for one's judgment and actions is central to the nurse's role as a moral agent. Nurses who practice with moral integrity possess a strong sense of themselves and act in ways consistent with what they understand is the right thing to do. A review of the literature related to caring theory, the concepts of moral accountability and integrity, and the documents that speak of these values and concepts in professional practice (eg, Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, Nursing's Social Policy Statement) are presented in this article.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Codes of Ethics
  • Consciousness
  • Empathy*
  • Existentialism / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humanism
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Nurse's Role* / psychology
  • Nurse-Patient Relations / ethics*
  • Nursing Theory
  • Patient Advocacy* / ethics
  • Patient Advocacy* / psychology
  • Professional Competence
  • Trust / psychology