Quote from Carolyn M
Hi! I am a senior nursing student at Sonoma State University. I am doing a theory paper on the ethical consideration of caring for a client who has a communicable disease. I know there is a clause in the ANA code of ethics regarding this. It amazes me how some nurses can turn their back on such clients. By taking the precautions necessary, nurses shouldn't be afraid of contracting the diseases in question. Am I jumping to quick conclusions when believing this? I was wondering if anyone had any input on this situation. Is there anyone who can help me to generate more ideas in helping to resolve this fear and anxiety that some nurses have? Or, are there any suggestions on how to manage a situation like this? Does anyone know of any theories or articles that can help support this topic? Thanks!
This is not as easy as you think. The ANA code provides a framework within which nurses can make ethical decisions, and discharge their responsibilities to other members of the health team (ANA, 1985, pp 1-16).
An ethical code only defines a professional standard, but it does not provide specific guidelines for how the nurse should act in a given situation, and most importantly it is not legally binding.
A nurse might be able to refuse an assignment based on a few things: 1) if not properly trained for an assignment, 2) personal or ethical issues, 3) inadequate staff, and 4) inadequate non clinical support. Your supervisor has the responsibility to give you a new assignment. Even so, you might be held legally responsible and subject yourself to a charge of insubordination, based on the reason for refusal.
According to JCAHO 2000, the institution should have a policy whereby a health care provider may request to be excused from an assignment, if it conflicts with his or her religious beliefs or values. However, It must be told to the employer in advance. On the other hand, if no nurse is available to care for the patient, you can be forced to take the assignment or be charged with abandonment.
As nurses, it is crucial to familiarized ourselves with the nurse practice act, and the policy and procedure manual within the institution. These tools are important for our license protection and malpractice.
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GOOD LUCK IN YOUR STUDIES.