With rapid technological advance and the present healthcare environment, nurses must deal with an increased number of new and complex ethical dilemmas. A., Benner, P., Drought, T., Drew, B., Stotts, N., Stannard, D., Rushton, C., Scanlon, C., & White, C. End of life issues in intensive care units: A national random survey of nurses’ knowledge and beliefs.
Sometimes these issues are previously unknown and "at any given time the practitioner may be confronted with particularities that are not yet accounted for in science or technology" (Puntillo, Brenner, Drought, Drew, Stotts, Stannard, Rushton, Scanlon, and White, 2001).
This is contrary to nursing’s philosophy that the preservation of dignity and human rights should take precedence over preservation of life, including the right to die without suffering. Nursing ethics is not a subcategory of medical ethics, but separate with its own literature, context and application (Veatch, 1985).
Nursing ethics refers to the "principles governing the conduct of nurses in relation to patients, their families, associates, and society at large (Wlody, 1998). The impact of restructuring on professional nursing practice.
Johnstone (1999) further describes nursing ethics as "a practice discipline, which aims to provide guidance to nurses on how to decide and act morally in the contexts in which they work.
Nurses have a unique association with patients, a "more direct and therefore more ethically compelling relationship" (Loewy and Loewy, 2001).
Bioethics and nursing ethics may be considered in the same philosophical realm but differ in both approach and application.
Engelhardt (1986) views bioethics as "the study of moral and conceptual problems associated with healthcare and the biomedical sciences." Bioethics tends to be medico-centric in nature and perspective (Johnston, 1999) with focus on identification of ethical concerns in medical and scientific research.
This author agrees with Reich (1978) that the aim of bioethics is the guidance of moral decision-making and discussion in medical science research and study. Nursing ethics, physician ethics and medical ethics.
Bioethics holds to the philosophy that human life must be preserved at any cost, with "the medical ideology that prolonged life of any quality is a prime value (Barnum, 1998).