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Camb Q Healthc Ethics. 2008 Winter;17(1):15-29. doi: 10.1017/S0963180108080031.

Do ethical guidelines give guidance? A critical examination of eight ethics regulations.

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Centre for Bioethics, Karolinska Institute, Sweden.


The number of legal and nonlegal ethical regulations in the biomedical field has increased tremendously, leaving present-day practitioners and researchers in a virtual crossfire of legislations and guidelines. Judging by the production and by the way these regulations are motivated and presented, they are held to be of great importance to ethical practice. This view is shared by many commentators. For instance, Commons and Baldwin write that, within the nursing profession, patient care can be performed unethically or ethically depending on the professional standards the nurses have set for themselves. They also hold that such standards are set when nurses become aware of the ethical codes available. As nurses are often not familiar with the codes, they do not all conform to them. Commons and Baldwin argue that nurses' ability to deal with ethical dilemmas is effectively secured with education on guidelines, creating a "barrier" between personal and professional values (p. 5).

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