nursing ethics
Live by the code
Do your research on ethics and you will 'do no harm'.
nursing ethics
Helm an ethics team
Successfully lead an ethics committee with the right tools.
nursing ethics
An intense experience for RNs
Care decisions are complicated when it comes to terminally ill kids.
nursing ethics
Address your moral distress
Liaisons support nurses who need to air ethical concerns.
nursing ethics
LGBTQ care up close
The LGBTQ community has special needs requiring special care.
nursing ethics
BSN in 10 changes things
The New York law raises education requirement for RNs.
nursing ethics
There's power in a hug
Babies need to be touched and held in order for them to thrive.
nursing ethics
The ethics of advocacy
Nurses can be forces of change outside of their workplaces.
nursing ethics
When the end of life is near
Patients need nurses more than ever in their final days.
nursing ethics
Call out unsafe practices
Speaking out against a colleague is intimidating, but necessary.
nursing ethics
8 key assumptions
Leaders draft a blueprint that prioritizes nursing ethics.
nursing ethics
Make every day count
A nurse helps a dying patient spend more time with his young daughter.
CE catalog
Learn important ethics lessons by taking these education modules.
nursing ethics
Keep it confidential
Community RNs must follow confidentiality and privacy policies.
nursing ethics
Know the code
Prepare for patient care challenges by learning the Code of Ethics.
nursing ethics
Who's your go-to person?
RNs share whom they turn to when faced with an ethical dilemma.
nursing ethics
How to make ethical decisions
Patient care decisions start with knowing what the patient wants.
nursing ethics
Choose your words wisely
Medical staff taped comments land them in hot water.
nursing ethics
Protect whistleblowers
Whistleblowers can face repercussions without protection.
nursing ethics
FREE CE: Gene testing
Patients can get gene testing kits on the web. But should they?
nursing ethics
A beautiful death
Treat patients as you would want a family member treated at the end.
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Protect whistleblowers
You should be able to report questionable practices without fear
Tom Clegg
A 2015 revision to the ANA Code of Ethics strengthened the wording of its policy that “nurses have a responsibility to assist whistleblowers who identify potentially questionable practices.” Further,
New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act
protects those who report such practices from retribution.

That’s all well and good, but as nurse leaders stressed at the Organization of Nurse Executives New Jersey Research Day Conference recently in Princeton, the best way to ensure nurses and other healthcare workers feel confident they can blow the whistle is by creating the proper work environment.
That was the conclusion of a research committee study at ONE NJ to replicate work done by
University of Nevada
researcher Lisa Black in 2011, which identified workplace factors that influence nurses’ willingness to report.
“If you have a culture in your organization where people felt safe to report things, they would report it and have less fear of retaliation,” said Patricia Steingall, MS, RN, NE-BC, vice president of patient care services and CNO of
Hunterdon Medical Center
in Flemington, N.J., and president of ONE NJ.
Steingall said the biggest fears of those considering blowing the whistle are retaliation and that nothing will be done with the information provided. Nurse leaders can alleviate some of those concerns by establishing a culture of openness and by educating “staff on what are the policies about whistleblowing, assure them that there are protections in place for them and let them know what those protections are,” Steingall said.
She also stressed the importance of being sure of the facts, a point echoed by Lucille Joel, EdD, RN, APN, FAAN, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University School of Nursing, Newark. Joel, who presented “Speaking Up: A Dimension of Professional Practice in an Ethical Context” at the conference, added blowing the whistle never is easy and always has some ambiguity.
You have to be relatively sure … that whistleblowing or calling governmental attention to a situation is going to be better for the client than allowing the incident to continue uncontested.”
— Lucille Joel, RN

“In regards to whistleblowing, it’s an ethical decision that runs contrary to an employer,” Joel said. “You have to be sure of the data. You have to be relatively sure, although you can’t be absolutely positive, that whistleblowing or calling governmental attention to a situation is going to be better for the client than allowing the incident to continue uncontested.” Attorney and nurse Kathleen Gialanella, RN, JD, LLM, Esq., spoke at the conference on the legal and ethical considerations of blowing the whistle. She encourages anyone considering reporting a potentially unsafe practice to seek guidance, which may include legal counsel. She also said that although certain situations allow whistleblowers to report an incident directly to an outside body, “normally the process needs to unfold within the organization, and the organization needs to be given an opportunity to correct whatever concern the employee has.” Gialanella said progress has been made by healthcare organizations in making staff feel more comfortable reporting incidents, but not everyone is on board. “Some organizations are ahead of others in adopting that kind of culture,” she said. “There are many situations where nurses still are not comfortable bringing a concern to the attention of their supervisor, and it’s because of a culture (in which) they’re not really encouraged to do so.”
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Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.
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