Veracity in Nursing

Last updated on May 15th, 2022 at 12:31 pm

What is Veracity in Nursing

Veracity in Nursing

Justice, beneficence, non – maleficence, accountability, fidelity, autonomy, and veracity are the seven ethical principles that govern nursing.

The importance of the principle of veracity in nursing will be the main topic of this article. The advantages of practicing veracity as well as the disadvantages of not doing so in nursing will also be emphasized.

Definition of Veracity

The idea of honesty underlies the principle of veracity in nursing. It is the foundation of a patient-nurse relationship built on trust. This principle requires nurses to be truthful in their interactions with patients and colleagues and must be willing to present patients with realities rather than false reassurances. Veracity secures and reinforces nurse-patient relationships and is vital in achieving treatment goals for the patients.

Importance of Veracity in Nursing

There are a number of reasons why the principle of veracity in nursing is critical for patient care. Here are five reasons why nurses should be truthful in their day-to-day nursing activities.

  1. Respect for patients is demonstrated by veracity. One of the most fundamental ethical and moral society norms is veracity. Nurses who practice veracity show respect for their patients and their right to be treated fairly. Conventional ethics emphasizes that lying to people is morally wrong, even if it is convenient, and even if the deception will result in a better situation.
  2. Nurses who embrace veracity support the patient’s right to autonomy. Patient autonomy refers to an individual’s right to make decisions on their own. When nurses are truthful, they provide patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their treatment. Patients who exercise autonomy feel more secure in their decision-making abilities and have greater control over their rights to make informed decisions and choose treatment options and their doctors
  3. Veracity enhances nurse-patient relationships, leading to better patient outcomes. Patients who have a positive relationship with their nurses are more willing to share their concerns, thoughts, and issues concerning their disease and treatment plans. Their transparency allows nurses to evaluate what is or is not working for patients and, if necessary, adjust their care plans to improve the patient’s quality of care.
  4. The use of veracity in nursing practice encourages patients to be honest. When patients perceive nurses are being honest with them, it encourages the patient to be honest with the nurse as well, making it easier to establish the condition of the patient and develop attainable expectations that will lead to desirable conclusions.
  5. Veracity forms a strong team harmony. In order to develop a good team, nurses must be honest in their work. Professional connections are strengthened when honesty and integrity are displayed, regardless of the field. Nursing is no exception, as the best nursing teams are honest with their patients and with one another.

How to Demonstrate Veracity in Nursing

In nursing practice, there are various approaches to show veracity. Because the principle of veracity is founded on truth and honesty, everything nurses undertake to encourage those qualities or behaviors is an ideal method to display veracity in nursing practice. Some examples of veracity in nursing, as well as explanations of why these practices are vital, are listed below.

  • Acknowledging faults. It is usual to hope others see our excellent deeds while wanting that our blunders remain hidden. In nursing, however, honesty implies being willing to recognize our flaws and accept the consequences of our errors. Although the majority of errors are unintended, when nurses do not own up to their faults, they can create a form of deliberate, undesirable conduct.
  • Assisting patients with serious medical conditions. Nurses’ instincts lead them to tell patients that everything will be fine, even if they know the prognosis is bad or the treatment options are constrained. Even when it appears that concealing the truth a little is the nicer alternative, nurses must recognize the value of veracity. Understanding that a patient is dealing with a difficult health situation, rather than trying to make things easier by denying the facts, answering inquiries honestly, and offering support to the patient and their family are some of the nurses’ ways to display veracity.
  • Keeping accurate patients’ records. Another example of veracity in nursing is honesty in the documentation. Veracity in documentation is necessary for effective patient care, accurate billing, and avoiding legal repercussions. Nurses can display veracity by documenting important patient information, being meticulous, and using documentation to ensure that patients receive appropriate care.
  • Requiring assistance in times of need. Nurses may be acclaimed as heroes, but the greatest warriors understand that getting things done requires collaboration. Nurses can demonstrate veracity by always placing the patient first, which may entail admitting that a task is too much for one individual to perform. When nurses ask for assistance, they show a patient-centered commitment which ensures that patients receive excellent care and have better results.
  • Accuracy in patients’ treatment. In nursing, veracity entails delivering high-quality and accurate care. While anyone can take shortcuts, dedicated nurses focus on finishing tasks completely and precisely.
  • Informed Decision. When nurses, patients, and other members of the healthcare team communicate, the patient gives his or her permission to receive medical treatment.  Genuine informed consent occurs only when patients are given all of the information that they need to make informed decisions.
  • Be open and honest with the patient family members and significant others. When patients are given a poor prognosis or treatment plans fail, it is human to alleviate the emotional suffering that their loved ones are experiencing. Nursing veracity necessitates nurses being straightforward about facts rather than protecting loved ones from reality. Nurses do not have the authority to breach a patient’s right to privacy only because they are honest. Nurses may reveal information to specific people with the highest courtesy and respect if the patient has given them permission to do so. If the patient has not permitted any of his information to be shared with others, nurses can still assert veracity by explaining to significant others that they understand their position. Nurses may also ensure the family that they are open in discussing any concerns as long as the patient’s privacy is not compromised.
  • Responding to difficult questions of the patients. The proper thing to do isn’t always the easiest thing to do. As nurses, they will encounter instances in which just patting a patient’s shoulder or holding their hand is inadequate. Patients need nurses to be honest with them when it comes to illness and sickness. Nurses must learn to walk a fine line between empathy and compassion while also being able to tell the truth.
  • Patient advocacy. One of the most important roles a nurse can play is advocacy, which entails representing a patient’s wishes while not allowing personal values to affect decisions. Nurses who exhibit veracity in advocacy express the truth while reflecting the wishes of patients, even if team members disapprove.
  • Providing accurate reports during endorsements. One of the most effective strategies to promote collaboration and continuity of care is to communicate at the end of each shift. Nurses must be truthful in reporting incidents with their patients during their shifts. Patients’ symptoms and responses to treatment, as well as the treatments they performed, are critical details to include in the report.

Implications of Lacking Veracity in Nursing

Although the principle of veracity is not a mandate, it is a nursing ethical principle that can have serious implications if it is violated. Even if the truth causes patient discomfort or concern, nurses should always display veracity. The following are some instances of the potential implications of lacking veracity in nursing.

  • Loss of trust among the healthcare team. Nurses’ primary responsibility is to deliver high-quality patient care, which involves collaboration. If nurses are dishonest, it leads to a toxic work atmosphere where they lose respect and trust. Unfortunately, a lack of trust among team members has an impact on the quality of care provided to patients and can have a detrimental effect on patients’ health conditions.
  • Building a strong nurse-patient connection is complicated. Patients must develop trusting connections with nurses and other healthcare personnel in addition to having a strong non-medical network of support. Patients commonly doubt whether nurses truly care about them and have their best intentions at heart when there is a lack of veracity in nursing. Patients’ inquisitiveness about motives and intent can cause otherwise pleasant nurse-patient relationships to fail.
  • Vital patient information is misunderstood. Once nurses conceal vital information or veil the facts about a patient’s condition in medical terminology that the patient or family members can neither understand, patients may make poor treatment choices.
  • Lack of veracity in nursing disregards the autonomy of the patient. Veracity is a baseline of truthfulness built on a patient’s autonomy and independence. When nurses fail to maintain veracity, the patient’s ability to make independent decisions is violated, which has a detrimental influence on nurse-patient interactions and patient care.
  • Substandard patient care. Lack of veracity can have extensive effects in terms of patient care. Patients who believe nurses are not honest or hide important information struggle to trust them, which leads to miscommunication. Poor communication frequently leads to errors or insufficient nursing care plans, as well as lack of patient engagement, both of which result in poor patient care.

Example of Veracity in Nursing

  • Reassuring patients. Nurses should never tell a white lie or bend the truth about a patient’s care to save a patient from excessive concern. For instance, when a patient is about to have surgery that will likely take months to recover from, the nurse should not convince the patient that it will not hurt or that the patient will be running around in no time thereafter just to make the patient feel better. Patients should not be told only the best-case scenario of treatment side effects or recovery expectations, since if things go worse than this scenario, it will put patients and families under extra pressure. It is far preferable for people to learn the complete truth from their doctor before consenting, rather than relying on nurses to fix things later. An effective nurse should demonstrate veracity by not giving false reassurances and providing patients with honest and accurate explanations for all treatments and interventions.

Another example: if a patient was undergoing chemotherapy for a Cancer diagnosis and inquired the nurse about its adverse effects, a nurse who is advocating veracity should be direct and clear about the side effects patients could anticipate.

  • Concealing a patient’s prognosis. A 62-year-old man presents to the hospital with complaints of persistent but not severe abdominal pains. The man has recently retired from a demanding professional career, and he and his wife are preparing to embark on a year-long journey around the world. According to the results of his examination, the patient has metastatic colon cancer. The attending physician had already informed and discussed the diagnosis to the patient and his wife, but the patient did not seem to accept it and inquired about his health condition with the nurse.Knowing the principle of veracity, the nurse should never lie about the patient’s condition. The nurse must be truthful in her responses to the patient’s follow-up queries. Withholding or concealing the truth about his health should not be considered an option unless the nurse recognizes indications that the patient would suffer psychological harm such as extreme mental or emotional distress which may lead to a life-threatening scenario.
  • Covering up nursing errors. Despite the fact that providing healthcare should be error-free, there are nonetheless instances of medical mishaps that health care providers tend to cover up. For example, a nurse makes a simple mistake by putting the incorrect topical ointment on a patient’s arm. Another nurse misplaced the ointment in the wrong container, resulting in the error of the nurse who applied the topical medication. However, the nurse should still follow the protocol and read the medicine label before giving it to the patient, rather than relying just on the container label. Because the mistake had no serious consequences for the patient, the nurse could simply overlook the errors, withhold this information, and state that the right ointment was used in the patient’s record. However, as a competent nurse, he or she must report the occurrence and carefully document it in order to avoid it from happening again.
  • Lying for convenience. Working as a nurse necessitates a great deal of effort and time. Because of the stressful nature of their duties, some nurses make things easier for themselves by lying. In one situation, a patient was due for medication at 8:00 a.m., but the nurse administered the drug two (2) hours later owing to an emergency case that consumed practically all of the medical team’s time. Rather than just charting the time when the drug should have been administered, the nurse must demonstrate veracity by documenting the fact that it was only delivered two hours later on the patient’s records.

Inaccurate entries about the patient’s condition, treatments, or observations are other examples of making false entries on patients’ records, which are not only unethical but outright lies for which nurses can be held legally responsible. Reporting that a treatment or medication was provided when it was not; fabricating data for observations that were not performed; and charting for all of the patients on the unit at the end of the day without knowing whether or not what is being written is factually correct. As a professional nurse, one must maintain his integrity at all times, and strenuous nursing duties should never be used as an excuse to lie.


Nurses who embrace veracity have a patient-centered approach, which is critical for providing excellent quality of care. If nurses would like to deepen their connections with patients and colleagues, encourage patient autonomy, and improve patient outcomes, practicing nursing principle of veracity is one of the greatest methods to do it.

Being honest is vital to nursing because it expresses respect for individuals and enables them to exercise their right to autonomy by providing them with all of the facts that they require to make their own decisions.

One of society’s essential moral and ethical principles is veracity. It is embedded in medical ethics as well as the ethical codes of nursing.

Veracity is dishonored by intentionally lying, concealing all or part of the truth, or communicating it in a way that misleads the other person.

In the field of health care, telling the truth is becoming increasingly sensitive. One cannot deny that there are times when not telling the complete truth and nothing but the truth is in the best interests of the patient, and thus morally acceptable.

The ethical question of whether and when it is appropriate for nurses to lie or conceal the truth, on the other hand, has no simple answer. Every nurse must decide for themselves, in every situation, what is and is not acceptable.

Nurses must be ethically and morally sensitive, and they must pay attention to their internal thoughts. Nurses should always consider whether the untruth is being told for the patient’s benefit or for their own convenience.

Nursing References

Ackley, B. J., Ladwig, G. B., Makic, M. B., Martinez-Kratz, M. R., & Zanotti, M. (2020). Nursing diagnoses handbook: An evidence-based guide to planning care. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.  Buy on Amazon

Gulanick, M., & Myers, J. L. (2022). Nursing care plans: Diagnoses, interventions, & outcomes. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. Buy on Amazon

Ignatavicius, D. D., Workman, M. L., Rebar, C. R., & Heimgartner, N. M. (2018). Medical-surgical nursing: Concepts for interprofessional collaborative care. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.  Buy on Amazon

Silvestri, L. A. (2020). Saunders comprehensive review for the NCLEX-RN examination. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.  Buy on Amazon


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The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

This information is intended to be nursing education and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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Anna Curran. RN, BSN, PHN

Anna Curran. RN-BC, BSN, PHN, CMSRN I am a Critical Care ER nurse. I have been in this field for over 30 years. I also began teaching BSN and LVN students and found that by writing additional study guides helped their knowledge base, especially when it was time to take the NCLEX examinations.

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