This paper raises the questions: 'What do we expect from nursing ethics?' and 'Is the literature of nursing ethics any different from that of medical ethics?' It is suggested that rather than develop nursing ethics as a separate field writers in nursing ethics should take a lead in making the patient the central focus of health care ethics. The case is made for empirical work in health care ethics and it is suggested that a good way of setting about this is to ask practising nurses about the real ethical problems they encounter.
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