I agree with you to a point Nursenoelle, given your position in OBS. It doesn't make sense to float someone into a SARS area. But if you are protected well enough, it shouldn't be an issue. Were you going to be responsible for taking care of a patient with SARS or just be located on that floor? I don't want to instigate any bad feelings but frankly most of us here have not had a choice about who we take care of, and we risk losing our license to nurse if we refuse to take care of a SARS patient.
The following information is from the College of Nurses of Ontario, I am aware this doesn't apply for the USA, but I'm sure you have your own Professional licensing body and disciplinary commitee which may have addressed these issues.
Frequently Asked Questions: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
For the latest information on SARS visit the following sites:
Health Canada at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca.
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care at: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/...ase/sars.html.
Toronto Public Health at: www.toronto.ca
SARS Information for Nurses
In light of the current outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) nurses are questioning how to provide care for clients while protecting both themselves and their families. The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) has developed the following statement to guide nurses who are concerned about this issue, and who may be questioning whether they can refuse to provide care to clients with SARS or work a scheduled shift.
The College of Nurses understands the challenges that nurses face in such situations. While nurses are committed to meeting the needs of clients, provision of professional nursing services does not include working in situations where nurses' health is at risk and no precautions have been taken. CNO believes that nurses can protect themselves from risk of exposure to SARS by using appropriate infection control measures. Nurses need to be aware of these measures, and use their knowledge and judgement to determine how to best protect themselves and clients from SARS.
Health Canada has issued infection control guidelines to help prevent the spread of SARS. Up-to-date information is available from Health Canada at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.
In addition, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has created a fact sheet, which is available at http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/...ase/sars.html.
This site also has a link to Toronto Public Health.
As self-regulated professionals, nurses have implicitly promised to provide health care services to the public. Nurses are accountable for meeting the needs of all clients, including those with SARS. In fulfilling this obligation, nurses must not abandon or neglect clients for whom they have made a commitment to provide care.
Frequently Asked Questions about SARS for Ontario Nurses
The College of Nurses of Ontario is receiving many calls related to SARS. The following are some of the more frequently asked questions and the CNO response. Check this site regularly for further updates.
My clinical placement has been cancelled because of the SARS situation. Can I still write my exam in June?
Because of the SARS situation at the hospital where I work, my colleagues and I are being asked to work extra shifts. What is CNO's position on nurses working extra shifts, and what should nurses do should this situation continue and they become fatigued?
What is my accountability when I feel that my workplace is unsafe because of the risk of SARS.
Q: My clinical placement has been cancelled because of the SARS situation. Can I still write my exam in June?
A: The College of Nurses is aware of this situation and is monitoring it daily. The definition of what constitutes "clinical placement" and the requirement that students complete it are determined by the nursing schools and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. CNO requires that students have successfully completed an approved nursing program.
The requirement that Ontario applicants successfully graduate from an approved nursing program before writing the exam is legislated in the Nursing Act. CNO does not have the authority to waive this requirement.
At this time, the Nursing Act requires all applicants to complete their program before writing. CNO will accommodate applicants who cannot write the May (RPN) and/or June (RN) exams due to the SARS situation, by transferring them to the next available exam that they are eligible to write, at no extra charge.
Applicants who have successfully graduated from their nursing program and are waiting to write the exam may apply for Temporary Registration. This will allow them to work in approved employers until they write the exam. For more on Temporary Registration see the Temporary Registration - Fact Sheet (#45029) .
The exam is a national examination and the dates are set two years in advance.
Please check this Web site regularly for updates. Also, consult with your nursing program leaders for further updates on the clinical placement issue.
Q: Because of the SARS situation at the hospital where I work, my colleagues and I are being asked to work extra shifts. What is CNO's position on nurses working extra shifts, and what should nurses do should this situation continue and they become fatigued?
A: It is acceptable to work overtime when you feel competent to provide safe, effective and ethical care. But when continued overtime leads to exhaustion or fatigue, it is expected that you will use your judgement to determine if you should accept the assignment. If you feel you cannot practise safely because of exhaustion from overtime, then you must refuse the extra hours. Situations such as this would not be considered client abandonment or professional misconduct.
In the current SARS situation, nurses are promoting client safety and supporting their colleagues by working longer hours and more shifts to cover for staff who are unavailable. However, it is important that nurses recognize when fatigue is affecting their practice and take steps to address this concern.
Q: What is my accountability when I feel that my workplace is unsafe because of the risk of SARS.
A: Nurses have the right to refuse to work where unsafe conditions exist and they cannot be adequately protected through infection control procedures. That said, there are procedures and equipment that will protect nurses so they can continue to provide safe care for their clients.
Individual circumstances such as lack of equipment need to be addressed at the institutional level, and nurses need to make a judgement call, realistically weighing the risks of harm against clients' need for care.
Cases where nurses withhold their services would need to be considered individually. It is important that nurses have an appropriate rationale for refusing to work because of unsafe conditions, and make every effort to ensure care is provided to clients.