The Role of Veracity in Nursing

Two nurses working together
Written by
Lori Fuqua
Reviewed by
Miranda Kay, RN
May 21, 2024

Nursing is a profession built on trust and compassion. 

Repeatedly named the "Most-Trusted Profession," nurses are held in high esteem because they are responsible for the wellbeing and safety of their patients. A crucial aspect of this is their honesty and truthfulness—or veracity. 

In an ever-evolving industry constantly faced with challenges, the role of veracity in nursing is increasingly important because it directly impacts patient care. In this article, we'll explore the significance of veracity in nursing practice and its implications and consequences for both nurses and patients. From ethical considerations to practical applications, we'll explore truth-telling in nursing.

What Is the Veracity Definition in Nursing?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines veracity as "conformity with truth or fact." As one of the seven core ethical principles in the ANA Code of Ethics, veracity is a straightforward concept that builds trust and facilitates informed decision-making. Yet it can be challenging at times because truth does not care if it is inconvenient, awkward, scary, or unwelcome; it simply is. Your responsibility is to share it, regardless, and find ways to do so in a compassionate yet professional way.

Why Veracity in Nursing Is Important

Another critical nursing principle is patient autonomy, which stresses the patient's right to make decisions about their care. Therefore, veracity is often in service of autonomy. 

The patients you treat are often in vulnerable situations, and there is a clear power differential between you. Due to your extensive education and work experience, you (and the other healthcare team members) have a broader and deeper understanding of your patient's condition and circumstances, as well as the implications and potential consequences of different choices they may make. 

How can your patients make informed decisions without knowing the objective truth of their circumstances? They must trust that you are sharing all the information with them.

Furthermore, how can you ask your patients to be honest with you if they doubt your willingness to be honest with them? 

Veracity establishes a social contract between you and your patients: "I will tell you the objective truth, even when it's uncomfortable, and trust you to do the same." Effective nurse-patient relationships are built with trust.

Negative Consequences of a Lack of Veracity

Just as veracity has implications and consequences, so does a lack of veracity. Lacking honesty can result in a loss of trust between you and your patients, which may lead to feelings of betrayal and a loss of confidence in the healthcare team's recommendations. 

A breakdown in the nurse-patient relationship could impact the patient's decisions about their treatment or plan of care, risking inadequate healthcare services or outright refusal. Furthermore, it may affect the patient's truthfulness with you and the healthcare team, causing them to withhold important information that would otherwise help establish an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Additionally, a lack of veracity can diminish trust and credibility among your peers and coworkers, which, on a personal level, may make collaboration difficult and result in social isolation in the work setting. 

It also can have broader-reaching implications for the healthcare system as a whole. Evidence-based practice, one of the key foundations of healthcare, relies on accurate information. If nurses are honest in their documentation and communication with the healthcare team, accurate diagnoses, improper treatments, and a decline in the quality of healthcare delivery are potential consequences.

How Do Nurses Practice Veracity in Healthcare Settings?

So, how can you practice veracity nursing in healthcare? Regardless of your work setting and position, you can apply this ethical principle. You can do it every shift, with every patient. Here are some examples of truth-telling in nursing.

Example of Veracity between a Nurse and Patient

An example of nurse veracity between nurses and patients is informed consent. Being honest with patients involves educating them on both the benefits and risks of a procedure or treatment and outlining all recommended patient care options, including alternatives.

Examples of Veracity Among Peers and Coworkers

The ethical principle of veracity applies among colleagues in the following ways:

  • Asking for help
  • Maintaining accurate information in chart documentation
  • Providing thorough shift hand-off reports
  • Giving honest feedback
  • Admitting mistakes

The Bottom Line: Veracity Goes Beyond Telling the Truth

Ultimately, the implications of veracity are widespread. Truthfulness inspires trust and facilitates open communication, not only between nurses and their patients but among nurses and with healthcare professionals of other disciplines as well.

Thorough patient assessments lead to more accurate diagnostics and better, more individualized nursing care plans. A work culture that fosters trust between colleagues can aid in retention and combat turnover. 

Veracity is one aspect of the ANA Code of Ethics, which guides nurses as they confront work-related challenges. Learn more about nursing ethics in our article "What Is the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses?." Interested in more nursing resources? Check out more articles on the Nursa Blog.

Sources:

Lori Fuqua
Blog published on:
May 21, 2024

Lori is a contributing copywriter at Nursa who creates compelling content focusing on location highlights, nurse licensing, compliance, community, and social care.

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