FNOPI / Portale / English / History notes. The Deontological Code

History notes. The Deontological Code

Some history
It was 15th February 1959: the Steering Committee of the IPASVI Federation started discussing about the need to set up a Nurses’ Code of Conduct, that would set out the ethical parameters according to which those who belong to this profession have to work. The first deontological code for Italian nurses was ready the following year, in 1960. It was an important achievement, that represented a further step towards the building of the professional identity, especially in relation to the other health professions.

However, a few years later nurses in Italy felt the need to amend the initial text in order to eliminate those things that were too closely linked to those days, to transitory historical and social elements as it is possible to read in the introduction of the new Code. In other words, it was a question of removing obsolete expressions, that had no longer to do with the new generation of nurses deeply involved in the social turmoil of those years, not just across our Country, but also worldwide.

The Code of Conduct of 1977 is a concise and dry, but not for this reason devoid of important emphasis: nurses facilitate the human and social relations of the beneficiary, nurses, fully respecting the rights of the sick, make use of their own union rights, nurses have the right to qualify and update their education. In the backlight it is possible to outline the profile of a professional (men start enrolling as nurses only in 1971) who certainly does not forget the human dimension of care, but enriches it through a social perspective, combining it with the assertion of dignity of this category that ranges from the advocacy of the unions to the needs of technical and scientific update.

This Code will remain in force for many years, during which nobody feels the need to change it, precisely because of the very concise nature of its text.

A first change was made in 1996, when the Alliance between nurses and citizens is added to it. The Alliance is a totally new tool that gives space to the growing need of being the independent protagonist of the profession, by addressing the natural interlocutor of their activity. It is an authentic bet that frames care within a much wider social dimension than the plain limitations of the healthcare structures, by offering a contract without mediators between the real protagonists of care, that is between nurses and the public.

In line with the Alliance, the Nurses’ Code of Conduct is rewritten, presented on the occasion of the Nurses’ International Day on 12th May 1999. The aim of the new Code is to outline the characteristics of the nurses’ mission in order to give space to the needs of professional autonomy and provide a track of reflection for the daily confrontation between the professionals and the delays of the culture and the centres where they work.

The Code of Conduct approved in 1999 remained in force until 2009.
The need to redefine the Code reflects the evolution of the profession, which in a decade has finally acquired a clearly defined identity: a nurses is no longer a health worker with a fitness-to-practice diploma, but a health professional in charge of nursing care. A professional who, as such, autonomously cares for individuals and the community through the Nursing Act, that is a complex set of nursing knowledge, prerogatives, activities, competences and responsibilities in all the professional areas and in different healthcare settings.
This important change had led to the new nurse-person/client relationship acknowledged by the 2009 Nurses’ Code of Conduct.

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della Professione Infermieristica
Firenze 31 maggio 2019

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