Distributor:  The Fanlight Collection
Length:  26 minutes
Date:  1983
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: College/Adult/Professional
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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Code Gray

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Academy Award nominee for Best Short Documentary. Explores four open-ended cases in which nurses confront serious ethical dilemmas in their day-to-day work.

Code Gray

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE! This multi-award-winning program documents four actual situations where nurses confront difficult ethical decisions, as they balance the often contradictory views of patients, family members, and other staff about what is best for their patients.

In the case of a newborn with profound and probably fatal birth defects, nurses must decide what level of care represents beneficence, or 'doing good.' The staff in a nursing home must decide between respect for a patient's autonomy and the need to restrain her to prevent injury. Nurses in an intensive care unit make daily decisions about the allocation of beds and nursing resources in accordance with the principle of justice. A nurse caring for terminally ill patients faces a conflict between fidelity to her commitment to relieve suffering, and the promises made to the patient's family.

Code Gray offers no easy answers to their questions. It is designed to trigger discussion among nurses, physicians, other health workers and consumers about the realities of nursing in a technologically complex world. It will be invaluable for students preparing to enter the healthcare professions.

'A compelling film about the realities of nursing in a technologically complex world, where the humanity of both patients and nurses is often in jeopardy.' -Mila Ann Aroskar, Society for Health and Human Values

'Acknowledges the crucial 'here and now' bedside decision making nurses routinely shoulder, and caringly illuminates the hidden responsibilities of nursing.' -Booklist


** Academy Award Nomination, Best Documentary
** First Prize, San Francisco Intl. Film Festival
** CINE Golden Eagle
** First Prize, American Journal of Nursing
** First Prize, Assn. for Critical Care Nursing
** Red Ribbon, American Film Festival
** American Academy of Nursing Awards
** Assn. for Practical and Professional Ethics
** Sigma Theta Tau


Main credits

Sawyer, Joan (Producer)
Sawyer, Joan (Director)
Achtenberg, Ben (Cinematographer)
Achtenberg, Ben (Film editor)
Mitchell, Christine (cmm)

Other credits

Photographer/editor, Ben Achtenberg; music, John Kusiak, Robert Van.

Distributor credits

Produced and Directed by Joan Sawyer in collaboration with Christine Mitchell, RN; Photographed and edited by Ben Achtenberg

Docuseek2 subjects

Medical Ethics
Death and Dying
Health Care Sector
Health, Healthcare, Medicine and Nursing
Nursing Education

Distributor subjects

Death and Dying
Ethical Dilemmas
Fanlight Collection
Health Care Issues
Issues and Ethics


film; captioned video; documentary; ethics in nursing; nursing ethics; medical ethics; healthcare ethics; ethics in healthcare; academy award; health care; healthcare; illness; disease; patient; nurse; nursing; doctor; medicine; physician; hospital; ethics; ethical; moral; morality; ; "Code Gray"; The Fanlight Collection

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