Recent polls have shown that Americans say nurses have the highest honesty and ethical standards and rate us as one of the most respected professions. Thing is, I don’t think we actually provide care for those people who filled out that survey. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50 percent of workplace assaults occur in the healthcare setting. The International Council of Nurses 2009 Fact Sheet states that, “Health care workers are more likely to be attacked at work than prison guards or police officers. Nurses are the health care workers most at risk, with female nurses considered the most vulnerable.” The Joint Commission reported that incidents of violent crimes in healthcare institutions are on the rise. Non-healthcare workers reading this would be quick to call BS but the facts are out there. Recently some extreme cases of abuse to nursing staff are getting media coverage, and exposing to the public the reality of the potential dangers caregivers face daily.
I have witnessed nurses get punched in the face multiple times, kicked, spit on, bitten, threatened the list goes on, and No! It is not always a psychiatric patient doing all this. At times it is a person who is completely oriented. At times patients will be belligerent, aggressive, rude, threaten to call news stations, and lawyers, and at times their family members will enable such behaviors putting nurses in uncomfortable and humiliating situations, and most nurses are instructed to apologize, and take the abuse as if it was part of the job, or change assignments and allow a team member to receive the abuse.
So where is the respect? R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
If your meal is not warm enough all hell breaks loose. If your pain medication is 15 minutes late, I am no longer competent at my job. If I tell you not to eat after midnight, I can go F*** myself? I guess the public trusts nurses until the point they actually need medical attention.
So I present to you the:
Patient’s Code of Ethics, 2017.
The first section speaks to the patient’s responsibility to respect the nurse and medical staff despite of nursing unit, personal qualities, age, gender, race or sexual preference.
Section I: The patient receives nursing care and expresses respect for the fundamental dignity, worth, and exceptional aspects of every nurse.
This section addresses the patient’s ethical duties for nurse respect and growth in trust between patient and nurse.
Section II: The patient and family members primary commitment is to the patient’s health. This section implies the patients and family member’s obligation to maintain focus of why he was admitted to the healthcare facility, regardless of conflicts that may present between clinicians and nurses. Furthermore, emphases should be placed on clear articulation on nurse’s responsibility in the care, preserving the scope of nursing practices, making it clear that nurses cannot prescribe more pain medications.
Section III: The patient will work together with the nurse to promote and protect each other’s health, rights, and safety.
In section 3, the patient hold the ethical duty to question the nurse’s practice in a respectable manner whenever they feel it is appropriate, without raising concerns for the nurse’s health and safety. Reports must be filed whenever an infringement in this section occurs. Verbal threats are also in violation of this provision.
Section IV: The patient has the ultimate authority regarding their personal care, but must be held accountable and responsible for unfavorable outcomes if they choose not to follow medical and nursing recommendations.
The nurse has the duty and responsibility to promote health, and provide optimal care, if a patient so chooses not to follow recommendations, all adverse outcomes that follows are solely the patient’s responsibility and should be viewed as such.
Section V: The patient through a friendly and team effort, establishes, supports, and promotes the ethical nature of the health care that allows nurse to reciprocate, and provide safe, quality care.
This section relates to the patient’s responsibility to work with the nurse in creating a moral environment and magnify the definition of the ethics and integrity of being a patient while receiving nursing care. These elements of moral character are an expectation of every patient.
Section VI: The patient, under all care settings, maintain a professional standard, with realistic expectations and will comply with nursing and medical recommendations.
In section 6, the patient is encouraged to keep a realistic view of the world and of human capabilities of the nurses. Maintaining compliance with the nursing and medical treatments as they seem fit, or the patient has the right to refuse and sign out against medical advise.
Section VII: The patient in collaboration with the nurses and other healthcare employees will respect and protect each other’s rights. The patient will promote self-care techniques as much as they can tolerate, will educate themselves on their diagnoses and treatments to reduce health care conflicts.
This provision stands for the patient to assume a self-care initiative for his or her own conditions. Nurses are present to care, educate, and promote healthy behaviors, but the patient has the obligation to care for self and not depend on the nurses for basic activities of daily living just because they are now in the hospital. The patient must learn how to care for their diseases and promote healthy behaviors.
Section VIII: As the nurses collectively, through their professional organizations, have set values and code of ethics to maintain the integrity of their profession, so shall it be with the patients. Patients and nurses collectively must remain professional, integrating ethical principles, respecting each other as human beings integrating social justice into healthcare.
Through the articulation of values and morals by the patients and nurses taking a unified approach to promote the best health outcome. Patient will respect the nursing profession as nurses respect each patient. Being aware of the scope of practice of the nurses, and knowing that they are doing all in their power to alleviate your suffering, and caring for you at your worst. Patient and nurses will establish mutual respect.
These sections are proposed as the new Patient’s Code of Ethics, describing the obligations conduct of a patient towards a healthcare professional. Hopefully patients reading this Code of Ethics will improve their behaviors and hostility towards nurses and caregivers, promoting a safe health care environment, where nurses will not fill threatened or become victims of abuse or violence while providing the great care each patient deserves. While the public continues, for 15 years in a row, labeling nursing as the most respected with the highest honesty and ethical standards, we will hold our patients to the same expectations.
The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN