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Ethical Nursing Care


The current ANS featured article is titled “A Critical Analysis of the American Nurses Association Position Statement on Workplace Violence: Ethical Implications” authored by Darcy Copeland, PhD, RN. Please visit the ANS website over the coming 2 weeks to download this thought-provoking article at no cost. Dr. Darcy provided this message reflecting on this work:

Darcy Copeland

“I have been researching workplace violence in nursing for several years.  Increasingly, I hear nurses in many settings describe violence directed towards nurses in very polarized ways.  For example, some nurses contend that violence is an inherent risk associated with our work while others contend that violence ought not be part of our jobs.  Amidst these polarized views are workplace policies reinforcing a zero tolerance to violence stance.  The American Nurses Association adopted such a stance in their position statement on workplace violence.  Such a position, however, is not in alignment with our ethical framework. Zero tolerance policies are absolutely appropriate with respect to family/visitor or employee violence.  They are not appropriate in the context of patients, however. Zero tolerance policies have a punitive and moralist history; they are also ineffective at actually preventing violence.  Adherence to zero tolerance policies in the context of patient violence has the potential to negatively impact the RN-patient relationship, erode public trust, and criminalize illness behavior.  After a critical analysis of the ANA’s position statement it is recommended that the ANA draft separate position statements. One addressing patient violence and a separate document addressing employee and visitor/family violence.  Nurses have very different duties, obligations and power in RN-patient relationships than in relationships with coworkers and relationships with families/visitors.  Those duties, obligations and power dynamics ought to inform our response to patient violence.”  

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