Role of fidelity in nursing ethics

Updated July 19, 2017

Fidelity, or faithful devotion to duty, plays a major role in professional nursing. Fidelity encompasses the nurse's responsibilities to patients, legal statutes, the health care organisation or employer, and society. Nurses must always be answerable and accountable to these areas of responsibility.

Code of Ethics

The American Nurses Association (ANA) advocates an ethical code with nine provisions, which address the areas of responsibility contained in the concept of "fidelity." Fidelity is the foundational principle that supports this code.


Fidelity encompasses five major attributes, according to Lynn Randolph Noland in "Fidelity in Health Care-Emphasis on Nursing: A Concept Analysis." These attributes are the object/recipient or the nurse/patient relationship, commitment or devotion to patient care, expectation or prognosis, action or medical intervention, and outcome or the patient's recovery.

Future Role

Noland and other health care experts, argue that the present and future role of fidelity is unclear. This is due to the complexity of modern health care, with its legal concerns, technological advancements and nurses' rapidly growing scope of practice and limits of authority. For example, in some states, advanced practice registered nurses can diagnose, prescribe and treat illnesses--tasks once reserved for physicians to perform.

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