Can nurses be forced to work during pandemic

Posted
by nursey04 nursey04 (New) New

I'm wondering-can the government force nurses to work during an emergency outbreak such as a pandemic?

lpnflorida

Specializes in psych. rehab nursing, float pool. Has 30 years experience.

I do not know if the government can pass anything , but I can tell you most hospitals would kick us to the curb if we refused to work.

Many of us have loved ones at home who would most likely be direly sick with swine flu if they caught it. My loved one is over 66 with chronic health conditions. Yet I will work, as while I love him. My needs do not supercede the needs of others. Plus, I am not independently weathly and need to work.

azhiker96, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 10 years experience.

Good point, the hospital would not pay me if I did not work. That seems fair though. Also, if my loved ones were direly sick I would want them at the hospital where there are meds, monitors, and equipment rather than at home.

Multicollinearity, BSN, RN

Specializes in Acute Care Psych, DNP Student. Has 4 years experience.

In Hong Kong, during the SARS epidemic when people were dying, government officials quarantined hospitals and locked everyone inside. No going in or out for days. That is a way of forcing staff to work.

nerdtonurse?, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

What the goverment can do depends on the country. I'm more worried about what the state BON might decide. They come up with some pretty "whaaaaa?" kinda stuff, and I could see them saying if we didn't work as scheduled, we were guilty of abandonment and threatening us with losing our licenses as a way to keep us on the job.

azhiker96, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 10 years experience.

Maybe the OP can clarify which government/country. Currently in my state, my license would not be at risk for calling off from work. For me to be charged with abandonment I'd have to accept report first. I think the US would be more likely to use public humiliation and appeals to our ethics before they'd try to force us to work. It's good to know your nurse practice act and be familiar with your state BON rules and opinions.

Thanks for all the replies. I am referring to the US-currently work/live in Massachusetts. I work in an outpatient clinic currently, but also fear being forced-or even more so as other posters have pointed out "coearced"-into working in a different type of setting to care for the acutely ill if there were to become a need. Believe me, I am a nurse and do realize the duty to care for the sick and the ethical/moral issues surrounding this. My personal biggest fear with this is that I'm a single mom of 2 kids and if schools/daycares close-I may have no one else to watch my children.

indigo girl

Specializes in Too many to list.

My personal biggest fear with this is that I'm a single mom of 2 kids and if schools/daycares close-I may have no one else to watch my children.

That is a big concern for many parents.Yesterday in the HHS/CDC/HSS webcast, Secretary Sebelius said that parents should make plans ahead time for other arrangements for child care just in case. I wondered how many single parents were going to struggle with that issue. My best friend called me from Philadelphia last night worried about her little boy's school closing, and how she was going to cope if it did. She gets no sick time from her job, and is just barely getting by financially as it is.

lamazeteacher

Specializes in OB, HH, ADMIN, IC, ED, QI.

In Hong Kong, during the SARS epidemic when people were dying, government officials quarantined hospitals and locked everyone inside. No going in or out for days. That is a way of forcing staff to work.

It's also a way to prevent unexposed staff from having to work.........

My take on this, is that only a member of the armed forces can be forced to do that which can be harmful to them (like be a target for the enemy). Therefore, their medical personnel could be effectively ordered to report to work.

I remember someone in the Navy saying that if someone attempts suicide, they're prosecuted for their attempt to destroy government property!

nerdtonurse?, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

If you want to read some scary, scary stuff, go read "The Great Influenza" -- it's about the 1918 outbreak, but has a couple of chapters on what the goverment did regarding the outbreak. They pretty much tossed out the constitution and most of the amendments...

I don't remember the exact quote, but a wise person once said, "in a crisis, the individual can rise to unknown levels of bravery. And a group of people will descend into unknown levels of savagery." If this got really, REALLY bad, I'm afraid that's exactly what would happen. If you've got enough tamiflu for 18% of the population in the USA, what's the other 82% going to do if they think that "their" doses or the the doses for their children are going to someone they think doesn't deserve it...? These are the same folks who go off the freakin' chain when I tell them our hospital carries Pepsi products, not Coke....yeah, they're going to be understanding....

azhiker96, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 10 years experience.

Okay, I apologize if this link has been posted somewhere else. You can look up your state's plan online. http://pakalert.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/swine-flu-outbreak-united-states-pandemic-plans-for-all-states/

I find it interesting that my state, Arizona, includes my family in the plan.

Ensure hospital workers and their immediate families receive prophylaxis and/or vaccination as appropriate.

I didn't see any plans for force nurses to work but including my family in the plan helps eliminate a reason why I might not want to work.

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