Career & Finances | Legal / Ethical

Fidelity in Nursing: What is It?

  • Fidelity in nursing is a term that is often associated with both the morals and ethics of a provider.  
  • In fact, it is one of the many ethical principles that make up the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) Code of Ethics, alongside justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, accountability, autonomy, and veracity. 
  • But what is it exactly? Let’s break it down.  

NCC News & Content Team

January 28, 2022
Simmons University

What is Fidelity in Nursing? 

Online nursing resource, RegisteredNursing.org, defines fidelity as, “keeping one’s promises. The nurse must be faithful and true to their professional promises and responsibilities by providing high quality, safe care in a competent manner.” 

As nurses, it is your duty to keep your promises to the patient and ensure that you are providing competent, respectful, and fair care to everyone.  

For instance, if you promise that you will return to check on a patient, you must do it or send someone else to in the event that you cannot.  

Practicing fidelity in nursing might not always be easy, but it is what you have agreed upon prior to starting your career as a nurse.  

There might be instances where the patient does not wish to follow the care plan as provided, and it is your promise to them that you will see the desired care plan through as they wish.  

Other times, there might be someone who is unfriendly with the healthcare staff; however, this does not change the way in which a nurse provides care. 

These scenarios happen daily, perhaps, even multiple times in one shift.  

Will it become difficult at times? Absolutely. 

nurse being talked to by superior

What If I Notice Someone Is Not Practicing Fidelity in Nursing? 

Although providers try their best to avoid violations to the ANA Code of Ethics, it is inevitable that some will occur, especially in the climate of chaos amidst the ongoing pandemic.  

However, no matter how short-staffed or exhausted the nursing staff might be, it is their duty to abide by both the facility’s and ANA’s ethical code. 

In the event that you witness a colleague who is not practicing fidelity in nursing, there are a couple of routes that you can take; however, some sort of intervention is necessary. 

Talk to them one-on-one 

If this behavior is out of the usual for your colleague, it might be helpful to reach out to them in a more personal manner. 

Check in and ensure that they are doing okay, and if there is anything that you can do to help them. 

However, depending on the facility’s guidelines and criteria for reporting ethical violations, it might be a matter in which you still have to report to a supervisor or board. 

A nurse not providing fair, competent care in a respectful fashion is not something that should be taken lightly and perhaps approaching your colleague and sharing your concerns is the best thing to do. 

Express your concerns to your supervisor 

Of course, depending on the situation, the first route might not be the most appropriate.  

If there is an instance where you believe a nurse has violated the ANA Code of Ethics, it is important that you notify a supervisor immediately, as this can impact the patient’s experience and potential health outcomes. 

The Bottom Line

As a provider, it is your duty to advocate for patients and abide by the ANA Code of Ethics.

All patients deserve fair, competent, and high-quality care no matter the circumstance and it is your responsibility to do something if you believe that a colleague is not following through on their promises to their patient and professional obligations.

For more information on fidelity in nursing, visit the ANA Code of Ethics or speak with a human resources representative at your facility who can provide you with additional resources.

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