Editor's note: This paper was read at the eighth annual University of Dayton Philosophy Colloquium, held in 1979.

Members of the nursing profession, for a variety of reasons including the nature of the profession but also economic exploitation and sexism, have been "caught in the middle." On the one hand, for example, the nurse is hired to carry out the directives of the physician and to support the policy of the hospital administration. The system cannot function as presently constituted without such co-operation and support in carrying out the decisions and policies of those higher up in the hierarchy. Yet, on the other hand, the nurse is legally and morally accountable for her or his judgments exercised and actions taken. "Neither physician's prescriptions nor the employing agency's policies relieve the nurse of ethical or legal accountability for actions taken and judgments made."



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