11 ethics Nurses & Paralegals need to know

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Ethics are both personal and administrative. Your personal ethics may be one thing, whereas the ethics you are required to follow under the guidelines set forth by the American Nursing Association or by the National Paralegal Association, may conflict with your own morality Nevertheless, you have a duty to follow such ethics parameters if you want to keep your job and avoid being sued for malpractice or violating confidentiality provisions.

While this article focuses on paralegal and medical professionals, many of these principles are also highly relevant within any situation where you are handling someone’s private information. Here are my top 11 ways to avoid violating professional ethics guidelines:

1. Study-  If you are a nurse, study the ANA handbook. If you are a paralegal, study the NPA‘s handbook regarding ethics. Also, study the individual company policies provided to you once hired by a company provided to you at orientation. What you don’t know can get you killed!

2. Don’t Gossip:  Clients are going to approach you with all sorts of embarrassing stories about their lives. Medical conditions, legal issues, stories of infidelity, infertility, and other stomach turning scenarios will be common place in any area of client relations. You must handle these scenarios with care. If you wouldn’t want it to be shared with the public, then its safe to assume that your client wouldn’t either. Practice empathy, and put yourself in their shoes.

3. Be mindful of eavesdropping: When speaking to a client on the phone or in person, be sure that these conversations are done so in a quiet, secure, and private area. If these conversations are accidentally heard by a third party, it could result in negative consequences.

4. Secure documents: Any paperwork relating to company secrets or client information shouldn’t lay around openly for passerbyers to see. Such documents should also be shredded, not crumpled up in a trash bin. Identity thieves and spies are everywhere. Do not make their jobs easier by mishandling documents.

5. Do not administer actions without permission: Unless you are directed by a licensed doctor or lawyer, nurses and paralegals are NOT allowed to give a  personalized diagnosis, legal advice, or administer treatment. Nurses and Paralegals must also refrain from taking action when the client does not consent. Paralegals and nurses are “foot-soldiers”. We are to operate mostly by direct command, and rarely act independently, and even when we do, we are highly monitored.

6. Avoid the media: Addressing the media in regards to a client or the company you work for without authorization is a big NO-NO. You run the risk of defamation, releasing company trade-secrets, and other legal consequences.

7. Don’t be an accomplice:  If you see your supervising Doctor or attorney doing something highly unethical or illegal, you have the right to speak up and file a report with the authorities. Do not become an accomplice to illegal activity.

8. Think twice before becoming a rouge: Becoming a whistleblower or acting on your own because it “feels right”, could make you go down in history as a brave hero and save lives, however, it will not be without consequences. Acting outside of your assigned role, even if it saves a life could still cost you your job or open you up for a malpractice lawsuit or legal sanctions. Before you try to become the next Edward Snowden, remember, there will be consequences.

9. Stay up to date: Ethics guidelines are subject to change. Most nurses and paralegals are required or encouraged to attend furthering education courses or “refresher courses”. These could serve you well so that you do not fall out of the loop for current industry standards.

10. Pledge your loyalty to your client: Your job is to be an advocate for your client and an assistant to your superior. Embrace this role fully! If you think an alternative remedy is in order, express this to your supervising Doctor or Attorney. Do this away from the client in order to protect the honor of your supervisor as to not undermine him. Also, do not conspire or speak with any outside forces who may work against the interests of your client and/or employer. You are being paid for such loyalty. Any actions you take which could be interpreted as being “disloyal” to either the client or your employer, could result in termination or a lawsuit.

11. Swallow your pride: Paralegals and Nurses should take great care in picking a field or concentrated area that lines up with their conscious. If you cannot fathom defending a murderer or thief, you may want to stay away from criminal law and try bankruptcy law instead. You can also ask to be removed from certain cases or refuse to work with certain clients who make you feel uncomfortable. However, regardless of how hard you try to manage your career, you will ultimately be forced to take actions that go against your own personal beliefs. It’s the nature of any business and something all employees must learn to accept. Do your best to minimize such circumstances but also learn how to justify such actions if absolutely necessary. Those who fail to rationalize their jobs will fall victim to alcoholism and other unhealthy coping methods if they do not learn how to cope naturally. Legal and medical professionals will benefit greatly from having a support system in friends and family.

The philosophy and administrative guidelines that govern the idea of “ethics” can get very complicated. If you are unsure about whether or not you may be violating your company’s standards of ethics, it never hurts to ask!

 

Atlanta “ends” Cash Bail requirements

(Activists celebrate the passing of a new law that exempts bail requirements on certain misdemeanor offenses.)

 

On Tuesday, February 6th, 2017, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an ordinance Tuesday that eliminates the Municipal Court’s cash bond requirement for certain low-level offenders who otherwise would be forced to sit in jail due to being unable to afford a bond.

The Atlanta Mayor stated, “…It makes no fiscal sense to hold someone in jail over a $500 bond”.

According to the many reports, after six hours of public comment and debate Monday afternoon, the City Council approved the ordinance 13-0. The bail bond industry itself appeared to be the main opponent of this law during public comments. However, citizens largely supported this effort. Sure, the bail-bonds industry may lose a little money, alas, families will be safe from the racketeering system that our legal system has become!

Like in all matters of the law, we have to strike a balance between liberty and security; Protecting the logical rights of men and their properties, while not creating monopolies that only the wealthy and the governments themselves can understand or afford to participate in. That’s the problem with our current legal system. The legal system is a glorified socialized “gun” that we use to point at one another in a “civilized” courtroom. However, it doesn’t make society any fairer or safer when that shared use of force can only be afforded by certain groups of people. Namely, the extremely poor who can claim to be “indigent” , or the extremely rich who can afford the best lawyers or to pay off judges. It is the middle-class who has no remedy. They don’t qualify for low-income exceptions, and they cannot afford a legal team of their own. Where do they go?

The legal industry and the for profit prison system, nicknamed the “Prison Industrial Complex”by many, benefits the state departments, judges, prison investors, bail bondsmen, lawyers, and police officers looking to keep their quota numbers up. However, this sort of “for profit” legal system creates another hurdle for the poor looking to get a leg-up.

Public urination, driving on a suspended license, an unpaid traffic ticket, simple possession of marijuana, — these are not charges synonymous with dangerous criminals who may flee the country or state, they are merely “infractional” petty offenders. To hold these people on a bond, who probably can’t afford the bail money, will sit in jail over such infractions whereas they are likely to lose their jobs and further slip into the cycle of legal penalties which facilitates poverty and loss of family ties.

The system doesn’t seem to care. As long as they are pulling in revenue for the system, lawmakers appear oblivious to long-term impacts on low-income families looking to escape poverty. According to statisticbrain.comthe average police officer in the USA pulls in about $300,000 per year in revenue from citations. That’s about $6,232,000,000 per year nationally! That’s a lot of revenue for infractions that could largely be forgiven, warned, or overlooked.  If I receive a seat-belt ticket, and am forced to pay the state $50, how does that solve any problems? If I cannot afford the ticket, my license will be suspended, taking away my ability to get to and from work, further forcing my family into the bellows of poverty. If I get caught driving on a suspended license, I go jail.

Holding a prisoner isn’t cheap either. It costs taxpayers about $31,000 per year to feed, clothe, and house an inmate.  That’s about $85 per day, much more than the cost of your average citation. But, the prison investors, bail bondsmen, law makers, government workers and attorneys who make money mitigating these issues don’t care about tax-payers or at risk families. They care about profit margins and expanding department budgets!

Some may say, “Just follow the law and it won’t be a problem!”.  We must ask ourselves, why does the United States have the largest prison population in the world? Over 70% of our inmates are non-violent! It’s a money scheme! It costs $500 to legally operate a lemonade stand in America! The average American commits three misdemeanors and a felony per day without even realizing it! Literally every inch of American life has a statute or code attached to it! If the legal system can’t get you for running a red-light, maybe they can get you for being a “public nuisance” or for the bumper on your car being one inch lower than what statute allows. The more laws we create, the more criminals we create by default! It is an inadvertent consequence stemming from good intentions; or perhaps it is all designed purposely to be this way? Or perhaps, the truth is somewhere in the middle?

Regardless, this reform effort that the city of Atlanta has made, thanks to so many passionate advocates and leaders like Atlanta based attorney Gerald A. Griggs, who championed this effort, is a welcomed change! It is so rare for attorneys and politicians to come together on behalf of the poor. When these instances happen, they deserve all of our applause and credit.! I salute Mayor Lance-Bottoms and all of those who fought for the repealment of such archaic bail practices.

Sure, if a man is wanted for malicious battery,murder, rape, robbery, or grand theft auto, it makes sense to put a bail requirement on him/her. Alas, those who are subject to a bail requirement for petty offenses are merely pieces of evidence proving what a corrupt system we have. This new change in the law is an excellent move and I pray that all cities follow suit!  This may seem like a small victory, but in reality, it can potentially turn into a huge wave of momentum in terms of criminal law reform.

Please send your special thanks to:

Gerald A. Griggs,

https://www.geraldagriggs.com/

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/mayor-s-office/meet-the-mayor

 

—And all other activists who assisted in this effort!

 

-Randell Stroud

Nalini-Global

2018