British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 18, Iss. 20, 12 Nov 2009, pp 1264 - 1268
Nanotechnology (NT) is concerned with materials and systems whose structures and components exhibit novel physical, chemical and biological properties due to their nanoscale size. This new scientific discipline is fast becoming a major driver of the future direction of health care and is likely to have a significant impact on society, medicine and nursing. This article demonstrates that ethical reflections lie at the heart of nursing. In contextualizing the ethics of NT, this article questions the conclusion reached by others that ethical reflections on NT lag behind its scientific developments. Instead it proposes that the ethical issues raised by NT are similar to those relating to biotechnology, considered by ethicists since the 1970s. Consequently, this article argues that a foundation of ethical reflections already exists that can be transferred to NT. Finally, this article asserts the need for nurses to be proactively involved in interdisciplinary discussions likely to extend the current ethical reflections of autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice to NT.