Non-maleficence and Beneficence

Non-maleficence and Beneficence

Non-maleficence and beneficence are bioethical principles applied in nursing where physicians and other practitioners base their ethical decisions. Non-maleficence refers to actions that refrain from causing harm or injury to the patients. By contrast, beneficence involves the act of providing benefits to patients during treatment where physicians should take action in providing treatment. It is essential that nurses know which principle to apply in certain situations in the best interest of the patients (Sher, 2013).

Respecting these principles in providing treatment may not be favorable to the patients since they sometimes act against their perspective on various medications. The nurses should apply the principle of beneficence in improving the well being of the patient by taking the appropriate plan for the best interest of the patient (Sher, 2013). Patients are sometimes incapacitated to make the right decision concerning the best treatment. Therefore, the nurses act in the patient’s benefit of prescribing the proper medication.

In the principle of non-maleficence, nurses should prescribe the medication that will prevent the development of further injury or cause severe health problems to the patient. However, the treatment prescribed may not be desirable to the patient, but the nurse’s prescription should prevail since it is prohibitory of severe consequences in the future. For example, a nurse may apply the principle of non-maleficence to a patient who has a do-not-resuscitate order. The nurse may allow the patient to die if they suffer cardiac arrest because it is beyond the nurse’s power to keep the patient alive (Sher, 2013).

Nurses should exhibit the principles of non-maleficence and beneficence in making crucial ethical decisions while handling patients. The two principles mainly discourage behavior that may cause harm to others. Beneficence relates to actions that benefit and promote the well being of the patients while non-maleficence aims at reducing and eliminating negative impact on patients to avoid harm.


Sher, L. (2013). Non-Maleficence and beneficence. The Ethics of International Engagement & Service Learning. Retrieved on 27 Jan. 2014 from

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