J Med Ethics 28:353-357 doi:10.1136/jme.28.6.353
  • Original Article

Medical authority and nursing integrity

  1. L de Raeve
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L de Raeve, Centre for Philosophy and Health Care, School of Health Science, University of Wales, Swansea, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales;
  • Accepted 15 April 2002
  • Revised 31 March 2002


This paper explores the respective legitimacy or illegitimacy of medical authority over nursing work. The analysis makes use of Joseph Raz’s ideas concerning the nature of authority. Various scenarios are considered which lend themselves to differing interpretations, and the conclusion reached is that acting in accordance with legitimate medical authority enhances rather than compromises the nurse’s professional integrity. Difficulties, however, may lie in disentangling legitimate from illegitimate attempts to control nursing work.