Accountability by Helen Caulfield

By Helen Caulfield

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If these standards are not met, the regulator has powers from the Government to take action. Regulation is the mechanism by which the Government can influence activity over: • • people settings The First Pillar of Accountability: Professional Accountability • • 17 products services. People can be regulated in their professional groups by regulators who decide: • • • the requirements for entry to that profession the circumstances for a person to be removed from the profession a Code of Conduct setting out the minimum standards of behaviour expected of those professionals.

The importance of an understanding of the ethical issues is that the nurse can enrich an assessment of accountability by considering a range of moral issues for which there may be no concrete answer. Many of the legal principles that apply to nursing practice will have a foundation in ethical issues. The prime moral principle upheld by the law is that of autonomy. Many legal decisions have criticised the use of paternalism on the part of clinicians where this may have affected or limited the autonomy of the individual.

Report of a working party of the Royal College of Physicians. RCP, London. Woolgar v. Chief Constable of Sussex Police and UKCC (1999) The Times, 28 May. 3 The Second Pillar of Accountability: Ethical Accountability Learning objectives Each nursing situation will involve individuals who have different health needs and different reactions to their wellbeing. Every person therefore has to be assessed individually. This raises many issues of ethical interest for nurses who consider the human dynamic of health but who may not understand some of the basic principles of ethical approaches to everyday dilemmas.

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