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What are the limits to the obligations of the nurse?
  1. S D Edwards
  1. Centre for Philosophy and Health Care, University of Wales, Swansea.


    This paper enquires into the nature and the extent of the obligations of nurses. It is argued that nurses appear to be obliged to undertake supererogatory acts if they take clause one of the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC) Code of Professional Conduct seriously (as, indeed, they are required to do). In the first part of the paper, the nature of nursing obligations is outlined, and then the groups and individuals to whom nurses have obligations are identified. Following a brief discussion of the moral foundation of the nurse's obligations to her/his employer, a common conflict of obligations is identified. Then a distinction is drawn between ordinary and extraordinary moral standards. Appreciation of this is necessary for an understanding of the criterion of what constitutes a supererogatory act. By the definition of supererogatory acts proposed below, it is suggested that actions such as whistleblowing satisfy that definition.

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