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!

 

Brave Utah Nurse Defends 4th Amendment from Police

Utah Nurse, Alex Wubbels, has been all over the headlines recently after an altercation between her and Utah police was posted online and went viral.  The incident happened July 26, when a car crash victim was admitted to the University of Utah Hospital burn unit; he was in a coma. Though the man was not a suspect in the wreck, which killed the other driver, police asked for his blood to be drawn.

According to CNN reports:

-“Wubbels, the charge nurse in the burn unit, presented the officers with a printout of hospital policy on drawing blood and said their request did not meet the criteria. Hospital policy specified police needed either a judge’s order or the patient’s consent, or the patient needed to be under arrest, before obtaining a blood sample.
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Salt Lake City Mayor,Jackie Biskupski ,said Wednesday the officers violated several city and department policies, including those pertaining to arrests, ethics and officer conduct. The officers have 20 days to respond to the results of the internal investigation, after which Chief Mike Brown will determine what employment action should be taken. The police department said it had no comment on the report. “
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Video shows Utah nurse arrested on the job
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Detective Jeff Payne eventually grabbed Nurse Wubbels when she demanded a search warrant before allowing the patient’s blood to be drawn. She was then arrested as the altercation became more aggressive on part of the officers involved. Payne and the other officers involved have been placed on administrative leave. As a Libertarian, and staunch supporter of constitutional law, let us examine exactly why Alex Wubbels is a hero, from both a legal and moral standard.
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Legally, Wubbels was defending not only her company hospital policy, but the 4th amendment of the United States Constitution, the supreme law of the land.  The 4th amendment of the Constitution reads as follows:
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“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
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In this particular situation, the police are attempting to seize a man’s blood. Is blood considered personal property? Well, if we analyze any basic traffic stop, an officer who wants to seize a vehicle or any contents inside the vehicle, must first obtain the owner’s voluntary consent or obtain a certified judicial search warrant with probable cause established. If vehicles are considered personal property, it is easy to imagine that blood is the ultimate definition of personal property, a substance that is literally manufactured by our own bodies.   In 2013, the Supreme Court decided in Missouri v. McNeely ,  that the harvesting of blood in regards to a police investigation did require consent and/or a warrant.
Honestly, how would any of us feel if an officer could just walk up to us and say, “You look a little buzzed, roll up your sleeze, im drawing your blood now.” In 2015, the Tennessee Highway Patrol did just that with their  controversial “No refusal DUI checkpoint stops”, that were met with harsh criticism by civil liberties activists. Many even disobeyed and fought the constitutionality of such checkpoints. Regardless, search warrants were still issued during most of those check point stops.
A warrant creates a necessary roadblock between police and arbitrary abuse of power. It creates one last opportunity for a judge to look at the situation and say, “This officer doesn’t have the right to do this”,  or “This officer has the right”.  While many judges often distribute search warrants arbitrarily and unfairly, atleast it creates a small deterrence for officers to easily abuse their authority. And this is exactly why the founders drafted the 4th amendment the way they did. They were sick of the British walking into their houses and confiscating their good without any regard or debate of legalities.
This Utah nurse not only made a stand for the Constitution but also for human rights. The victim at hand was not accused of any crime  and the officers had no legal authority to take his property; i.e. his blood.  If the 4th amendment did not apply to our blood, it could create an opportunity for blood harvesting, experimentation, and all sorts of deadly scenarios.
In my Shadow Report,  Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform , I address the problem of “policing for profit”, whereas police departments often seize properties illegally, only to turn around and sell those items to profit their departments.  Civil asset Forfeiture is a huge concern all across this nation. I could only imagine if a market for blood was opened up to private corporations. It would create another fascist relationship between big pharma and big government.
Kudos to Alex Wubbels for defending life, liberty, and the 4th amendment of our Constitution.  It is a sad day in this country when a nurse is doing more to protect the 4th amendment than our elected congress members who passed laws like the Patriot Act which undermine the 4th amendment.
Maybe Ms.Wubbels should act as a Constitutional consultant to our Republican and Democratic leaders on what it means to strictly adhere to the founding principles of this nation which lead to the rise of what used to be known as— “The most free nation on Earth. “
I look forward to seeing Ms.Wubbels attain justice for the abuse she suffered protecting our beloved bill of rights.  She is a true role model to girls,boys,women, and men residing in this great nation of the United States and elsewhere.
Godspeed.
Nalini-Global
2017