An advance directive describes a document through which an individual makes a provision for health care decisions in case, in the future, the individual becomes incapacitated in making a decision regarding his treatment wishes. The advance directive constitutes the durable power of attorney for health and the living will (Guinn, 2008). A living will tells the type of treatment that an individual desires in case he is permanently unconscious or dying; an individual can refuse or accept medical care depending on his wishes as spelt in the living will. On the other hand, the durable power of attorney for health care is an advance directive that gives an individual’s health care proxy. The advance directive is a vital document since it serves the function of permitting an individual to make his health care choices, in the future. Without the advance directive, an individual will not have the capacity of expressing his health care desires to be pursued in the future, when he is not capable of making the health care decision (Guinn, 2008).
In carrying out health care practices, nurses need to follow the code of ethics. The code of ethics provides an outline of the rules, values, responsibilities and duties that nurses must follow in giving quality health care to individuals. The American Nurses association code of ethics outlines such guidelines and responsibilities that nurses need to adhere to in order to ensure ethical standards are followed in the provision of health care services. Therefore, the chief purpose of American Nurses Association code of ethics is to provide ethical standards that nurses should follow in order to ensure that they provide quality health care services to individuals. It provides the nurse with a guideline of what to do and what not to, when providing health care services. In addition, the American Nurses association code of ethics serves the purpose of aiding nurses in making ethical decisions, when providing health care services (Masters, 2013).
A nurse is trained to professionally handle patients under the guidance of the code of ethics. Through the American Nurses Association code of ethics, a nurse is capable of providing health care services to individuals through making the best ethical decision (Council of Europe, 2011). In case, a person does not have a living will or even a power of attorney for health, the nurse providing medical services to such an individual will follow the American Nurses Association code of ethics in providing treatment to the individual. The American Nurses Association code of ethics provides that a nurse must always intend to serve the good to others in order to impact the health lives of others positively. Because of this provision, the nurse will make the best ethical decision regarding the treatment of the individual, who does not have a living will or a power of attorney for health.
Besides, the American Nurses Association code of ethics provides that the primary commitment of a nurse is to a patient (Masters, 2013). Therefore, a nurse will always be committed to a patient. In case, an individual is in a coma but does not possess a power of attorney for health or a living will, a nurse is going to use this provision in providing the best health care service to the individual; the nurse will become committed to the patient in ensuring that the decision that he makes will be for the benefit of the patient.
- Guinn, K. (2008). Physicians’ Perspectives on Discussing Patient Advance Directives. New York: ProQuest.
- Council of Europe. (2011). Principles concerning continuing powers of attorney and advance directives for incapacity: Recommendation CM/Rec (2009)11 adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 9 December 2009 and explanatory memorandum. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.
- Masters, K. (2013). Role development in professional nursing practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.