Veracity in Nursing – What is it, Why is it Important & Examples
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Are you a nurse who is all too familiar with the desire to ease your patient's worry? Have you struggled with what information they need to know and what may be "okay" to keep from them? Nursing is based upon seven ethical principles: justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, accountability, fidelity, autonomy, and veracity. In this article, we will discuss the importance of the principle of veracity in nursing. Maybe you have asked, "What is veracity in nursing?" and how can you implement it? As you continue reading, you will learn what veracity in nursing means, find out the benefits of practicing veracity and the consequences of lack of veracity. I will also share some examples of veracity and how they apply to nursing practices.
What Does Veracity In Nursing Exactly Mean?
The principle of veracity in nursing is based on the concept of honesty. It is the basis of a trusting relationship between patients and nurses. Veracity in nursing requires nurses to be honest in their interactions with patients and colleagues. Veracity means being willing to provide patients with facts, not offering false reassurances. It is the concept by which nurses hold themselves and others accountable to demonstrate competent, accurate patient-centered nursing care.
5 Reasons Why Veracity Is Important In Nursing
Veracity is often described as the tie that binds patients and clinicians as they establish relationships and develop treatment plans. There are several reasons why veracity in nursing is essential for patient care. The following are five reasons nurses should demonstrate veracity in daily practice.
1. Veracity demonstrates respect for patients.
Veracity is one of the basic ethical and moral societal principles. When nurses practice veracity, they demonstrate respect for their patients and their right to be treated equally and fairly.
2. Nurses who practice veracity promote the patient’s right to autonomy.
Patient autonomy is the right of competent adults to make decisions about their medical care. When nurses are honest, they give patients the information they need to choose their care. Exercising patient autonomy helps patients feel more confident in their decision-making abilities. They feel in control of their rights to choose treatment plans, physicians, and make educated decisions.
3. Honesty strengthens nurse-patient relationships, which positively impacts patient outcomes.
Patients who have strong relationships with their nurses are more likely to be open about questions, concerns, or issues related to their illness or treatment plans. Their openness makes it easier for nurses to gauge what is or is not working for patients and modify their care plans if needed, which can improve the patient's health outcome.
4. Veracity in nursing practice promotes honesty from patients.
Veracity binds and strengthens nurse-patient relationships and is essential as patients and healthcare teams seek to establish achievable treatment goals. When patients feel nurses are honest with them, it encourages honesty from the patient to the nurse, which makes it easier to determine a patient’s status and set realistic goals to promote positive outcomes.
5. Veracity in nursing practice is essential for strong team building.
No matter what profession a person pursues, professional relationships are stronger when honesty and integrity are demonstrated. Nursing is no different. In fact, the strongest nursing teams demonstrate veracity with patients and one another.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF VERACITY IN NURSING?
There are several ways to demonstrate veracity in nursing practice. Keep in mind, the principle of veracity is based in accuracy and honesty. Therefore, anything you do that promotes those characteristics or behaviors is an excellent way to demonstrate veracity in nursing practice. The following are 10 Examples of veracity in nursing and explanations about why these behaviors are important.
1. Admitting mistakes
It is natural to want others to see our good deeds and hope our misgivings or mistakes are not evident. However, veracity in nursing means being willing to admit our shortcomings and face the consequences of mistakes. Most mistakes are not intentional. However, when we do not own up to them, mistakes can become a pattern of purposeful, poor behavior.
2. Helping patients face difficult health challenges
As nurses, it is natural for us to want to “fix things.” The nurturing instinct of nurses leans toward telling a patient everything is going to be okay even when we know their prognosis is poor or their treatment options are limited. It is essential for nurses to understand the importance of veracity, even when veiling the truth a bit seems like the kinder option. Veracity in nursing is demonstrated when nurses acknowledge the patient is facing a challenging health issue and, instead of trying to make things easier by avoiding the truth, they answer questions honestly and offer support to the patient and their loved ones.
3. Maintaining accurate charts
Honesty in documentation is another example of veracity in nursing. It is essential for effective patient care, proper billing, and to avoid legal ramifications. Nurses can demonstrate veracity by documenting pertinent patient information, being thorough, and using documentation to maintain continuity of care among interdisciplinary team members.
4. Asking for help when you need it
Nurses may be hailed as the frontline heroes, and for good reason. However, the best heroes know it takes teamwork to get things done. Nurses can practice veracity by remembering the patient first, which sometimes means admitting an assignment is too much to handle alone. When you ask for help, you demonstrate a patient-centered approach that leaves no room for pride or envy among team members. The result is better patient care and improved patient outcomes.
5. Demonstrating accuracy in patient care
Veracity in nursing practice involves honesty, which can be demonstrated by providing high-quality, accurate nursing care. While anyone can cut corners or do a job halfway, dedicated nurses strive to do jobs completely and as accurately as possible.
6. Informed Consent
Informed consent occurs when communication between nurses, patients, and other healthcare team members results in the patient’s authorization to undergo medical treatments or intervention. True informed consent only occurs when patients are presented with thorough, accurate, and honest information necessary to make knowledgeable decisions.
7. Be honest with patient loved ones and family.
It is normal to want to ease the emotional pain family and friends experience when patients are given a poor prognosis or when treatment plans are failing. Veracity in nursing requires nurses to be forthcoming about accurate information instead of shielding loved ones from the truth. Keep in mind veracity does not mean you have the right to violate a patient's right to privacy. If your patient has authorized you to disclose information to certain people, you may do so with the utmost dignity and respect. In the event your patient has not given permission for you to share any of their information with others, you can still demonstrate veracity in nursing by explaining to the friend or loved one that you understand their concern and assuring them you are available to discuss any concerns that do not violate your patient's privacy.
8. Answering hard questions, even when you don’t like the answers.
Sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do. As a nurse, you will be faced with situations when patting a patient’s shoulder or holding their hand simply isn’t enough. Nurses must learn to balance empathy and compassion with the ability to tell the truth. Illness and disease can be frightening, and patients need nurses to be honest with them. Skilled nurses learn the art of demonstrating veracity in nursing while expressing empathy, concern, and hope.
9. Acting as a patient advocate regardless of your personal feelings or how others may view you.
One of the most significant acts a nurse can perform is to advocate for patients. Advocacy means representing a patient's desires and avoiding allowing one's personal values to influence decisions. When nurses practice veracity in advocacy, they speak the truth in representing patient wishes, even if team members disagree.
10. Giving accurate reports at the end of your shift
End of shift reporting is one of the most effective ways to promote teamwork and continuity of care. Nurses must be intentional about reporting events that occurred with their patients during their shifts. Patient symptoms and responses to treatment are essential information to share in the report. Nurses must also practice veracity when reporting the interventions they implemented. Veracity in nursing related patient care provided is essential to quality care and errors of omission.
5 Consequences Of Lack Of Veracity In Nursing
While the principle of veracity is not a law, it is considered an ethical principle of nursing. Violating ethical principles, including veracity can have severe consequences. Veracity means being completely truthful with clients, families, and coworkers. Nurses should demonstrate veracity, even if the truth may lead to patient distress or anxiety. The following are examples of possible consequences that result from a lack of veracity in nursing.
1. Loss of credibility with other team members:
The role of nurses is to provide high-quality patient care, and it takes teamwork to get things done. When nurses are dishonest, it creates an unhealthy work environment including a loss of respect and credibility. Unfortunately, the loss of credibility among team members affects the level of care patients receive and can negatively impact patient outcomes.
2. Difficulty establishing solid nurse-patient relationships:
Illness and disease can leave patients feeling vulnerable. In addition to having a strong non-medical support system, patients need to establish trusting relationships with nurses and other healthcare members. When there is a lack of veracity in nursing, patients often question whether nurses genuinely care for them and have their best interests at heart. As patients examine motives and intent, it can result in the deterioration of otherwise strong nurse-patient relationships.
3. Miscommunication and misunderstanding about important patient information:
When nurses withhold essential information or cloak the truth about a patient's status with medical jargon the patient or family does not understand, it can lead to patients making misinformed decisions about healthcare.
4. Lack of veracity in nursing practice demonstrates a lack of respect for a patient's autonomy.
Veracity is a foundation of truthfulness founded on respect for a patient's individuality and autonomy. When nurses fail to practice veracity, there is a breakdown in the patient's right to independent decision-making, negatively impacting nurse-patient relationships and patient outcomes.
5. Poor patient outcomes:
The lack of veracity in nursing can have far-reaching consequences related to patient care and outcomes. Patients who feel nurses are not forthcoming or are withholding pertinent information find it difficult to trust, creating communication barriers. Poor communication often leads to improper or incomplete nursing care plans and failed patient compliance, which leads to poor patient outcomes.
My Final Thoughts
Nurses who ask, “What is veracity in nursing?" or "How can I practice veracity in nursing?" demonstrate a patient-first mentality, which is essential for effective patient care. The foundation of therapeutic nurse-patient and interprofessional relationships is founded on the principle of veracity. If you desire to see your relationships with patients and colleagues strengthened, promote autonomy in patients, and see improved patient outcomes, practicing veracity in nursing is one of the best ways to accomplish this.
Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).