ANA officially states strikes are unethical and approves use of replacement nurses

  1. We all know that a code of ethics is not subject to a personal interpretation by an individual or an individual group. Nor can you pick and choose which code you follow and do not under different circumstances. Each individual code is as important as every other code. They are not weighted nor are they ranked in importance. In Short, if you break one ethical code on a list then you are being unethical even if you follow all the rest. There is no such thing as being a little unethical just as there is no such thing as being a little guilty. It is black or white, you either are or you are not behaving unethically.

    In example, if it is unethical to assist in a suicide under a code of ethics, then no mater what the circumstances, it is still unethical. Also with the same example in hand, it does not mater how many people are participating in the act, because it is still a violation of an ethical code.

    The dictionary defines the word "ethic" as the following:

    eth-ic (thk)
    n. 1.
    a. A set of principles of right conduct.
    b. A theory or a system of moral values: "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain" (Gregg Easterbrook).
    1. ethics (used with a sing. verb) The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.
    2. ethics (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics.

    ethic n 1: the principles of right and wrong that are accepted by an individual or a social group; "the Puritan ethic"; "a person with old-fashioned values" [syn: moral principle, value-system, value orientation] 2: a system of principles governing morality and acceptable conduct [syn: ethical code]

    The following is from the code of ethics recently approved and accepted by the ANA:

    "The nurse's primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community."

    This code is straight forward and uses strict and specific language. I have emphasized two words so that there can be no mistake as to it's meaning. The word is primary not to be anyway confused with secondary or any other meaning. The other word is community. It is well known that a community is based on perception and there are no defined physical boundaries. The term "global community" has even become common place.

    In this individual code you will not find the word or phrases "except" or "in case of" or any other variation used to later nullify it.

    So by strict definition, which any code of ethics is based on, it is unethical for nurses to strike or walk out thus turning their back to their "primary commitment".

    It is also ethical for another nurse to step in to fulfill the "primary commitment", that other nurses have forsaken, to the "community".

    Oh I can hear everyone now saying to themselves, "hey what about the nurses union (UAN) within the ANA. According to the "Code of Ethic", it is not unethical to be a member of and/or use collective bargaining. It only becomes unethical when nurses strike or otherwise walk out and forsake their primary commitment.

    Many of the other codes included in the ANA's "Code of Ethics" continue to strengthen this position.

    I can also hear, "A while back the president or the ANA went to jail for actively joining and participating in a strike, does that mean that she was acting unethically and against the ANA code?" To answer this you first have to remember that this code was only recently adopted. So the answer would be no. If she did this today or in anyway encouraged a strike or walkout, then yes she would be acting unethically and directly against the established ANA's "Code of ethics".

    Now here is a good question for everyone? Morals and ethics are ever changing and are based on the majority's perception of right and wrong. Is it actually ethical for a small minority of less than 8% to establish the rules and/or codes for the overwhelming majority to follow, or do these rules/codes only hold true and binding for the small minority of nurses who are actually members?

    Well I found the answer for the question that I posted earlier, even though it still lacks in a answer for past conduct and lack of action.

    Now if this seems like a bunch of double talk, then you need to also look at the following:

    One more thing to remember is that a "Code of Conduct" can never override/overrule a "Code of Ethics".
    Last edit by wildtime88 on Dec 9, '01
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    About wildtime88

    Joined: Feb '01; Posts: 379; Likes: 11


  3. by   fergus51
    Striking fulfills my primary obligation to my patients in the long run so I don't think it is unethical at all. I thought the ANA came out against scabs years ago.
  4. by   RNPD
    "We all know that a code of ethics is not subject to a personal interpretation by an individual or an individual group. "~Wildtime


    Exactly what you are doing here. A nurse that can not fulfill his or her professional & ethical commitment to the patients entrusted to them (because admin refuses to supply the necessary environment for safe, professional care) has an OBLIGATION to strike, if that is the only remaining means of ensuring quality patient care in the long run to the patient community. A scab UNDERMINES that effort of the striking nurses to their community of patients and therefore scabs and their practice remain unethical and therefore unprofessional in their obligation to the patient community.
  5. by   wildtime88
    Here is another one of the individual codes:

    "The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient. "

    I have heard this same reason/arguement used by replacement nurses many times in the past.

    Last year, these codes were not officially adopted. They only became effective within the last 6 months. So in reality, it is a whole new ball game. Of cource, the ANA can go aganst the code that it officially adopted. If they did, then they would be in violation of their own ethical code that they want all nurses to follow. In short, they would be acting unethically.

    I am sure that these codes were well thought out and discussed by many in the ANA before they were adopted by the organization as a whole. To go back now and change them would be a little shady, to say the least.
  6. by   rjlrn95
    I agree there are situations that call for a strike and by striking you set up the need for "scabs" as they are so elequently called.
    As I've posted before it is each person's own choice to strike and/or be a replacement nurse.

    There will never be a cut and dried answer to this, it will aways be a debate--why beat a dead horse?
    Last edit by rjlrn95 on Dec 9, '01
  7. by   wildtime88
    According to the ANA's recently adopted "Code of Ethics" put into place for all nurses within the profession to follow, there is nothing left to debate. A striking nurse is performing an unethical act by forsaking their "primary commitment". A replacement nurse is acting ethically by stepping in to help fullfil the "primary commitment" that was abandoned.

    The language used is precise and very clear without anything added in to justify an exception on this topic. The debate is over according to the "Code of Ethics".

    If the ANA's "Code of Ethics" is followed, thus no ethical violations, there will be no more strikes or need for replacement nurses.
  8. by   bagladyrn
    My point of view: I do not grant any group or individual the right to dictate my ethics. I will act as I see moral and ethical in any given situation whether or not it conforms to any prevailing standards. Therefore, if I feel it is appropriate to strike, or not to cross a picket line, I will do so, and accept the consequences of my actions.
  9. by   hoolahan
    In total agreement with fergus here.

    If the unions gave no notice for a strike, that would be unethical, like a "blue flu", but since they do give plenty of notice, they are indeed fufilling thier primary obligation to the pt and community by allowing adequate time for replacements so the pt's will not be abandoned.

  10. by   donmurray
    The argument on the 8% making the rules... who else within the profession can? As for the small percentage, at least they aren't counting dimpled chads!
  11. by   wildtime88
    hoolahan, according to most union nurses who go on strike. The last thing they want is for replacement nurses to come in. So how does that make it ethical on the union nurse's part. It doesn't according to the ANA's "Code of Ethics". The other thing to consider is that the striking organization does not line up it's own replacements in order to ensure that there is actually enough replacement to cover for them.

    So in actuality, these nurse's are walking out and abandoning their "primary commitment" without knowing if there is anyone to cover the patients they are leaving behind or the community at large. As such they are committing an ethical violation against the ANA's existing "Code of Ethics" and as such acting unethically.
  12. by   fergus51
    Well, as a unionized nurse who doesn't want scabs, we guarantee patient safety by maintaining minimum staffing for the life or death cases or reroute them elsewhere. We make our point and still remain ethical in our treatment of our patients. That's how it's still ethical
  13. by   wildtime88
    By providing only minimum staffing for life and death cases, other patients go without needed medical treatment if staffing is not bolstered by replacement nurses. Of course this does not sound so bad if you are in an area where another facility has both the staffing and beds available for all the patients who are turned away /rerouted. This is not the case in most of the areas of the country and it is well known. So again the nurse who strike are acting unethically according to the ANA's "Code of Ethics" by not fulfilling their "primary commitment". They are jeopardizing the health and safety of the community and some people would even argue rights.

    This is also a violation of this individual code:

    "The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient."

    As we have already seen the patient has been well defined by this code:

    "The nurse's primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community."
  14. by   -jt
    <<As we have already seen the patient has been well defined by this code:

    "The nurse's primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community."

    "The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient. " >>

    Exactly. And, as a member of the ANA & UAN, unlike you, I dont have to put my own imagined interpretation into what that code means. I know that what the nurse members of the ANA intended when they wrote it was that, because of a nurses committment to the pts, she has to do whatever it takes to protect that pt, to ensure their safety & quality care while in the hospital.

    When the facility refuses to recognize or effectively address the professional concerns of the nurse in matters that adversely affect the pts, the nurses committment to those pts obligates her to take a stand for them. If necessary, they are obligated to force the issue. If the facility chooses to have that progress to a strike, so be it. If the nurses have to strike in order to get unsafe conditions noticed, addressed, & corrected, then thats what they have to do & it is fully supported by the ANA, publicly and professionally, under the Code of Nurse Ethics and the Nurses Bill of Rights.

    The ANA contends that it is far more than just ethical for nurses to take a stand for their pts - their statement is that this is a "professional imperative".

    As the Code of Ethics intends, for the nurses to NOT take that stand when all else fails, & to just allow dangerous conditions to perpetuate would violate their committment to the pts & that is what would be unethical.

    According to the Code, it is also unethical for nurses to allow the pt to be put into known situations which can cause potential harm to the pt. Since we all know that exhausted nurses make more mistakes & that can cause harm to the pt, what are nurses to do when their facility insists on forcing them to work exhausted for 16 or more hrs & all other measures to stop this practice have failed? Do the nurses just let the practice continue -working exhausted, knowing they are vulnerable to making a mistake that can cause harm to the pt, thus violating their own Code of Ethics?

    Or do they take a stand to prevent being forced to work in such a condition & putting the pt (as well as themselves) in danger? The answer is the latter & this is what the intent of the Code of Nurse Ethics is all about. Your misguided interpretation of the Code is in complete error.

    Contrary to your sensationalistic "newsflash" lie of a headline here, the ANA never ever has, nor will it ever consider that striking is unethical. It fully & totally supports striking as a means for nurses to carry out their committment to the pts & obtain safe workplaces for all. That is just unethical in your imagination.

    And just a little FYI, the ANA condemned Scabs yrs ago & continues to publicly do so - vocally, in print, in community meetings, in the legislatures, in being the ONLY nurses organization to hold protest demonstrations at the offices of the major scab agency in Colorado, in informing the public, in refusing to accept advertizing from companies that provide facilities with strike replacement nurses, etc etc.

    Everytime you write about our national professional organization, you point out more & more how little you know about it.

    Obviously, you have reached a desperate point in your campaign to denigrate it because you now have grapsed so far for straws in that diatribe up there that its actually hilarious. Talk about putting a spin on things! Your fantasies are hysterical.

    I think youre just jealous of all of our accomplishments and pro-activity. Like the man said at least we arent counting the dimpled chads. What are you doing?

    Try reading the ANA's National Nurses Bill of Rights that we developed. They apply to all nurses & will stand up in a court of law for the defense of all nurses - member or non member - even you.

    Your welcome.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 9, '01