A nurse's ethical responsibility

  1. There are many ethical issues that face today's nurse. What do you think is a nurses responsibility in reporting other nurses and healthcare professionals when there is inappropriate behavior and conversation going on in the professional setting? Is it a nurses responsibility to report inappropriate joking between other nurses? What about between nurses and doctors? Should it just be overlooked if a patient is not present? What if a patient is not conscious? Should we hold ourselves and others to a high standard of behavior and attitude, or should we just be resolved that "it's just how things work"?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Bipley
    Quote from semiller
    Is it a nurses responsibility to report inappropriate joking between other nurses?
    No.

    What about between nurses and doctors?
    No.

    Should it just be overlooked if a patient is not present?
    Yes.

    What if a patient is not conscious?
    The patient may still be able to hear, this is different.

    Should we hold ourselves and others to a high standard of behavior and attitude, or should we just be resolved that "it's just how things work"?
    Seems to me the nurse wanting to run around "telling on" everyone is the person that is holding OTHERS to higher standards. Perhaps she needs to stop causing problems within her unit/pod/department.

    People joke around, for some it is dark humor. That's how we deal with the job. If nobody is being harmed that's what we do. We have a choice, we can either find a way to deal with "icky stuff" or we can run to a corner, roll up in a fetal position, and drool. To each his own.
  4. by   babynurselsa
    If said nurse has nothing better to do than spend his/her time eavesdropping on onthers converstations and then reporting her coworkers, maybe they could find a more productive(rather than destructive) way to utilize their time.

    The way that I read your post you are referring to listening to conversation or joking between other individuals, not directed toward the person who feels the need to report this behaviour.
    This is part of one of the reasons we have a nursing shortage. When others are so concerned about stirring the pot and monitoring others behaviours.
    You will not find yourself trusted or well recieved by coworkers if they have to worry about anything they say around you.

    I would say the ethical issue in this instance would be is it ethical to slink around listening to conversations of which one is not a part of an inciting a witch hunt.
    My Grandma always told me it wasn't polite to eavesdrop.
  5. by   SheriLynnRN
    I agree with what the above two posters said on the subject, as long as the patient is not going to find out/overhear the jokes, and it doesn't affect the nurses' ability to treat the patient with respect, then it's just stress relief. I don't think the OP is contemplating whether or not she should eavesdrop on her coworkers and tattle on them. When I read the post, it sounded just like a homework assignment for nursing school.
  6. by   babynurselsa
    Yeah Sheri that is what I thought too.

    Though I have encountered this type of personality a few times in 10 years of nursing. He/She who deems themselves the unit snitch. They spend untold amounts of energy slinking around "observing" all of their coworkers activities. This person usually meets the manager at the door in the morning, or will even call the manager at home.
    They get some sort of sense of superiority out of being able to point out the deficiencies of others.
    Now let me clarify if I were to observe something of importance or impact to the care of the patients, unacceptable/unsafe care practices, diversion of narcs, neglect, I would address these in a heartbeat. IN AN APPROPRIATE FASHION.
    Do I care that Sue said red panties to jane? Do I care that mike was gone to luch 33 minutes instead of the allotted 30? Nope.
  7. by   Bipley
    Quote from babynurselsa
    This person usually meets the manager at the door in the morning, or will even call the manager at home.
    They get some sort of sense of superiority out of being able to point out the deficiencies of others.
    I had to laugh when I read this, this is SOOOO true! They think they are the manager's best friend and they do less work and more snooping.

    They usually don't last long in any given dept. They are not typically team players, they are team wannabe supervisors with funny brown stuff on their noses.
  8. by   veronica butterfly
    Quote from semiller
    There are many ethical issues that face today's nurse. What do you think is a nurses responsibility in reporting other nurses and healthcare professionals when there is inappropriate behavior and conversation going on in the professional setting? Is it a nurses responsibility to report inappropriate joking between other nurses? What about between nurses and doctors? Should it just be overlooked if a patient is not present? What if a patient is not conscious? Should we hold ourselves and others to a high standard of behavior and attitude, or should we just be resolved that "it's just how things work"?
    Not sure what you mean by inappropriate. If it is just bad humor in your opinion and not causing harm to anyone, then let it go. However, if it is nurses bullying other nurses, or being disrespectful and neglectful to patients, then maybe some education needs to be done for the whole place. I've worked in a couple of places where there was a lot of inappropriate behavior by nurses and it definitely trickled down to the patients. Both places it started from the top and the whole place had an atmostphere of being negative all around. Example, holiday exchange of presents/secret santa. one nurse gave another nurse a vibrating pen. okay, funny to some, not so funny to others. big deal. the big deal came around when the receiver of this present thought it was funny to stick this pen down her scrubs in the nurse's office for a joke when things got stressful. still, funny to some, not so funny, now a fine line drawn. Not so funny though when the son of a patient walked in on it. Did this affect patient care, probably not, but really was fairly inappropriate. Oh, by the way, management could have cared less. Remember hearing is the last sense to go in a patient..........
  9. by   KatieBell
    I thin it all comes down to what someone defines as inappropriate.

    Now, I worked a travel assignment and during it I discovered that one of the Charge Nurses was found in a "delicate/intimate" situation with a Physician while both were on the clock. That behavior threatened patient care, as neither one was "available" to do the patient care or to answer charge questions- and so yes, that got reported.

    Now, jokes and ribbing- another thing, and generally should be ignored- as long as they are not seen/heard by patients.
  10. by   Bipley
    Quote from KatieBell
    Now, I worked a travel assignment and during it I discovered that one of the Charge Nurses was found in a "delicate/intimate" situation with a Physician while both were on the clock. That behavior threatened patient care, as neither one was "available" to do the patient care or to answer charge questions- and so yes, that got reported.
    LOL... that happened in our OR once. We knew what they always did in a given room but com'on... it was OR! They wouldn't even clean up after themselves. Gahhh...

    Finally one day we left the intercom on in there, everything they did and said went on the overhead throughout the dept. OR dept head heard for himself so it was no longer an issue of reporting anything. Heh...
  11. by   Daytonite
    Inappropriate behavior and conversation are supervision/management concerns. These are employee-employer matters. Staff will often report nurses who use foul language or can be overhead swearing a lot in conversations with co-workers. They report this to the boss (nurse manager or supervisor) because it is offensive to them. To overlook it depends on the situation, I guess. I, personally, would only report it if I heard it being used within earshot of a patient, or if it was being directed to another employee in an obviously angry manner meant to stir up an argument. Dealing with behavior and attitude are difficult for managers because many organizations do not clearly define what these two concepts are so it is left to the common sense of the manager to sort these things out.
  12. by   tencat
    Quote from Bipley

    Finally one day we left the intercom on in there, everything they did and said went on the overhead throughout the dept. OR dept head heard for himself so it was no longer an issue of reporting anything. Heh...
    Oh, I would have LOVED to be there for that one!
  13. by   DutchgirlRN
    I wouldn't report anything that doesn't harm the patient or doesn't violate your rights as an employee. I hear alot and keep it to myself.
  14. by   Bipley
    Quote from tencat
    Oh, I would have LOVED to be there for that one!
    The OR Dept Head was trying his best not to laugh the entire time he was standing there yelling at me for leaving the intercom on. Finally he gave up and said he couldn't do this. He busted out laughing and that was the end of it.

    The doc was a creep too. He would wear the really old, used, thin scrubs and no underwear. Gahhhhhhh Left nothing for the imagination and seriously, we wanted it left to our imagination. The real thing.... (shivers)

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