Can nurses be forced to work during pandemic - page 2

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

  1. by   azhiker96
    Quote from nursey04
    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.
    The answer to the question is yes, Massachusetts can try to force you to work if they declare a health emergency.

    The public health authority may.....require in-state healthcare providers to assist in the performance of vaccination, treatment, examination, or testing of any individual as a condition of licensure, authorization, or the ability to continue to function as a healthcare provider in this state.
    from page 33 of 39.


    Source: http://www.publichealthlaw.net/MSEHPA/MSEHPA2.pdf
  2. by   llg
    For most people who will get this flu, it will not be worse than other cases of influenza ... of which there are many cases each year. People get sick: they get over it. What is particularly bad about this flu is NOT that everyone who gets it is going to become seriously ill, it's that it is highly contagious -- and a higher percentage of the population will get it. People are acting as if this were some science-fiction movie with a deadly virus about to turn us all into zombies or something.

    ... And as for child care ... EVERY family should have a back-up plan for providing child care regardless of situation. Even in routine times, there is always a possibility that a school will close temporarilty or a regular child care provider will become unavailable, etc. To not have a plan is short-sighted and irresponsible.
  3. by   talaxandra
    I was at an international conference last year that had several pandemic sessions. The focus was primarily on ensuring support staff (cleaners, cooks, orderlies etc) came in, with an assumption that health professionals wouldn't need the same level of encouragement.

    Recognition of the vital role health care providers play was evident in the concensus that health care providers have been nominated by multiple surveys of the general population, and by strategic planning across the board, that this group should be vaccinated as a priority.

    In the event of a pandemic or other overwhelming disaster all governments will be more interested in the wellbeing of their population as a whole than the preferences of individuals. I wouldn't bank on just deciding not to come in.

    If the 1918/19 Spanish flu is indicative of the next pandemic (which is not necessarily this flu), the differences between usual flu and pandemic influenza include:
    - higher virulence/more contagious
    - altered victim pattern (young, healthy people)
    - higher mortality rate

    This means a larger population than normal will be affected, including those people usually relatively safe from becoming seriously affected, and more people will die. It doesn't mean everyone will get sick, that everyone who gets sick will be seriously affected, or that vast numbers of people will necessarily die. but if the majority of the workforce are affected a lot of infrastructure will be affected for the duration of the pandemic, which will have a lot of knock on effects that may themselves cause other issues.
    Last edit by talaxandra on May 1, '09
  4. by   twinmommy+2
    Quote from nursey04
    I'm wondering-can the government force nurses to work during an emergency outbreak such as a pandemic?
    I was just told today that if my family or I came down with this virus the hospital would pay for all of us to have antiviral medication, I think to keep the nurses working where they are needed. I like the idea!
  5. by   caroladybelle
    Asa nurse that used to work in Florida, I will tell you that many facilities expected staff to work during the storm, and occasionally be closed in. And there were facilities that fired staff for not reporting to work, in regards to hurricanes.

    I worry more from a hurricane than working in a health care facility with PPE for a disease like the flu.

    As a healthcare worker, I expect to have to work in a healthcare crisis. I have worked HIV units, back in the early 1980s, and my current employer would expect me to work during a pandemic, within reason. I am safer at work with PPE and most contagious illnesses than I am at the supermarket.
  6. by   Equinox_93
    Most contagious illnesses, yes. And with this current round of H1N1 I'd agree totally. It may be pandemic, but it's not very lethal or problematic. However- would you feel the same if this mutated into a form as lethal as H5N1 with a greater than 50% mortality rate?



    Quote from caroladybelle
    Asa nurse that used to work in Florida, I will tell you that many facilities expected staff to work during the storm, and occasionally be closed in. And there were facilities that fired staff for not reporting to work, in regards to hurricanes.

    I worry more from a hurricane than working in a health care facility with PPE for a disease like the flu.

    As a healthcare worker, I expect to have to work in a healthcare crisis. I have worked HIV units, back in the early 1980s, and my current employer would expect me to work during a pandemic, within reason. I am safer at work with PPE and most contagious illnesses than I am at the supermarket.
  7. by   Equinox_93
    Quote from twinmommy+2
    I was just told today that if my family or I came down with this virus the hospital would pay for all of us to have antiviral medication, I think to keep the nurses working where they are needed. I like the idea!
    That's awesome... ... assuming it doesn't pick up the anti-viral resistance that alot of flu strains have so far.....
  8. by   Equinox_93
    This flu, yes. However, the concern is that "this flu" is at a high risk of mutation into "another flu" that has a far greater mortality rate.

    As to child care- most people do have short term back up plans. However- how many people have long term ones in place for the event of school closings, daycare closings, nannies that come down with a serious pandemic illness or are unable to care for ones child due to enforced quarantine etc. etc. etc. How many of us don't live near family members or those who would be home and willing to care for another child? Or who have special needs children who need special care that requires alot more than just calling that nice SAHM down the street to sit for a bit? Yes- everyone should have a backup plan- but this is quite a bit different than the sort of potential back up plans that most people have in place.


    Quote from llg
    For most people who will get this flu, it will not be worse than other cases of influenza ... of which there are many cases each year. People get sick: they get over it. What is particularly bad about this flu is NOT that everyone who gets it is going to become seriously ill, it's that it is highly contagious -- and a higher percentage of the population will get it. People are acting as if this were some science-fiction movie with a deadly virus about to turn us all into zombies or something.

    ... And as for child care ... EVERY family should have a back-up plan for providing child care regardless of situation. Even in routine times, there is always a possibility that a school will close temporarilty or a regular child care provider will become unavailable, etc. To not have a plan is short-sighted and irresponsible.
  9. by   inthesky
    I'm a psych nurse without med surg experience. I would want to do my civic service, but this would be awkward. Keep me away from critical care patients and IV starts and I'd probably make do with supervision. =P
  10. by   lamazeteacher
    Quote from azhiker96
    The answer to the question is yes, Massachusetts can try to force you to work if they declare a health emergency.

    from page 33 of 39.


    Source: http://www.publichealthlaw.net/MSEHPA/MSEHPA2.pdf
    Keeping in mind that the document (at the site above) is a model upon which the fashioning of laws regarding the power given state agencies and personnel that will go into effect when an emergency is declared, it should be recognized that it calls for absolute faith and support of government workers who oversee the implementation of it. During the state of emergency declared, until it is lifted, military and state workers will assign duties, the acceptance of which dictate other workers' retention of licensure.

    In other words, you do what is required of you by the Governor of your state and his/her appointees, or lose your license. Such servitude hasn't been in place for civilians previously, except when natural disasters strike, and order needs to be reinstated. Trust for those in office will be mandatory, and non compliance punishable. Public needs will supercede individual rights.

    From the comments in posts here, it appears that some would like their ordinary responsibilities to take precedence and can hardly believe that they must plan for the care of their children for an uncertain period of time because a higher duty calls them when an emergency such as mass terrorism, pestilence, or war occurs. That is no time to rethink your vocation!

    Being there for others, not by choice is a hard pill to swallow, but there it is. It's like the first time you were required to perform a procedure that seemed to be too much for you. "There's nothing to it, but to do it", as the song says. This is a great thread, to help us to recognize all the preparation that we must do to ensure our own families' security. And government workers need to inspire our trust in them, until it must be there. Censure and partisanship need to be dropped, and expectations elevated. Yes, we CAN DO IT!!!

    No one can say they weren't warned, after reading these posts!
  11. by   Equinox_93
    Hey- if "they" want to pay the astronomical costs for in-home childcare plus my salary in that situation? Sure- I'll probably do it. Otherwise- they can have my license because yes- my children are my first priority. Everyone else can have my service- and gladly- but ONLY once they (my children) are taken care of. And anyone who thinks that that is somehow a wrongful prioritization is IMO the one who needs to rethink their priorities.

    Think about it- if a parent is worried about their child in a situation like that- how focused will they be on the task? If they are not focused on the task- how likely is it that mistakes will be made? If mistakes are made- how likely is it that someone could die?

    The way you talk is as if one shouldn't go into nursing if they have children they recognize their responsibility for, and don't have family nearby who can devote an unspecified amount of time toward raising (since in a case like that who knows how long the situation would last or how many hours a day/week one would have to have them do this) or who can't afford the astronomical cost of in-home childcare (in situations like we are speaking of, there is a good chance that childcare facilities would be closed- or does the state have mandates that they are required to be open as well?) Nevermind whatever special requirements those who have children with special needs might face...

    As for public need superceding individual right- well- sorry but I think that mindset is a load of crock. But then- I'm not a socialist. I think that the worst that should be able to happen in this situation is that if one leaves a job- they can't go back to that job and expect it to be there. This is healthcare- people are sick and dying every day. Everyone has their limits. People resign now for poor working conditions, family issues etc. A situation like we're talking here should be no different as far as being forced to work.





    Quote from lamazeteacher
    From the comments in posts here, it appears that some would like their ordinary responsibilities to take precedence and can hardly believe that they must plan for the care of their children for an uncertain period of time because a higher duty calls them when an emergency such as mass terrorism, pestilence, or war occurs. That is no time to rethink your vocation!
  12. by   Purple_Scrubs
    Quote from lamazeteacher
    In other words, you do what is required of you by the Governor of your state and his/her appointees, or lose your license. Such servitude hasn't been in place for civilians previously, except when natural disasters strike, and order needs to be reinstated. Trust for those in office will be mandatory, and non compliance punishable. Public needs will supercede individual rights.
    Wow. If that means that I, as a school nurse with no recent hospital experience, am going to be commissioned to work in the hospitals (there is a reason I left the hospital setting, and I don't plan to return), then I am going to make my plan to get out of nursing for good. No one is going to take away my personal rights just because I chose nursing. Will MDs and other HCPs be held to the same standard? I find this terribly disturbing. "Do what we say or lose your license..." if that is the case I will hand mine over with a big pink bow on it!
    Last edit by Purple_Scrubs on May 7, '09 : Reason: typo
  13. by   lamazeteacher
    Quote from Purple_Scrubs
    Wow. If that means that I, as a school nurse with no recent hospital experience, am going to be commissioned to work in the hospitals (there is a reason I left the hospital setting, and I don't plan to return), then I am going to make my plan to get out of nursing for good. No one is going to take away my personal rights just because I chose nursing. Will MDs and other HCPs be held to the same standard? I find this terribly disturbing. "Do what we say or lose your license..." if that is the case I will hand mine over with a big pink bow on it!
    I'm so sorry that you feel that way! I doubt that you'd be told to work in M/S, but Peds could be appropriate, with adequate orientation to med dosaging (however most hospitals have lists of nurses who recently retired that they could call upon)..... or vaccination clinics (giving injections is like getting on a bicycle after many years without doing that). It's not like starting IVs with the new equipment for that there is today.

    The standards in the model are the same for all HCPs, including auxilliary personnel. What I get from your response, however, isn't an objection to the particular work you may be told to do, but the fact that you won't have a choice about whether you want to be drafted to do it. That's what made conscription so unpopular, and the registration of all 18 year old males in case it returns, is not favored.

    It would be best, rather to think of it as you did when you worked on staff at a hospital, and couldn't have the exact time you wanted for your vacation. Others accompanying you, or those who you may have visited needed to adjust their vacation dates, so quite a few others may be affected by your work schedule. These times are unusual, but at least modern communication methods and treatments will lower the cost in lives lost. In 1918 there was little that could be done to prepare, test or treat the flu.

    Please think clearly and as objectively as possible before you risk the professional career you enjoy which sustains you in the lifestyle you prefer. Angry reactions interfere with lifelong planning, and shouldn't be acted upon without thorough examination. You may find that the your anger is intensified by some earlier experience when you weren't given a choice.......:heartbeat
    Last edit by lamazeteacher on May 7, '09 : Reason: corrections

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