Rights and Responsibilities
License to practice nursing is a privilege that grants rights and imposes obligations upon the licensee. These rights and obligations arise from legal, ethical and professional duties.
- Nursing rights arise from professional relationships with: patient/family unit, licensor, employer, health team colleagues and society. "To maximize the contributions nurses make to society, it is necessary to protect the dignity and autonomy of nurses in the workplace. To that end, the following rights must be afforded:
- Nurses have the right to practice in a manner that fulfills their obligations to society and to those who receive nursing care.
- Nurses have the right to practice in environments that allow them to act in accordance with professional standards and legally authorized scopes of practice.
- Nurses have the right to a work environment that supports and facilitates ethical practice, in accordance with the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements.
- Nurses have the right to freely and openly advocate for themselves and their patients, without fear of retribution.
- Nurses have the right to fair compensation for their work, consistent with their knowledge, experience and professional responsibilities.
- Nurses have the right to a work environment that is safe for themselves and for their patients.
- Nurses have the right to negotiate the conditions of their employment, either as individuals or collectively, in all practice settings."•
- Legal duty - Simply stated, the licensee is accountable for behavior as a member of society and as a licensed professional. The licensee must comply with all laws, civil and criminal, as well as administrative regulations that are enforced within the jurisdiction of the license.
- Civil laws recognize and enforce the rights of parties in disputes over rights and duties owed. In civil cases the party judged to be responsible for harm to another may be required to pay compensation to the injured party.
Malpractice is a common civil law complaint brought against licensed nurses. Malpractice is professional negligence involving a failure to act as a reasonably prudent nurse would have acted under the same circumstances. A claim of malpractice may arise from acts or omissions by the licensee or from the improper delegation of a task to another. Four elements are necessary to prove malpractice:
- Licensee assumed a duty of care for the patient/family unit.
- Licensee breached the duty of care by failing to meet the standard of care
- Licensee failure to meet the standard of care was the proximate cause of harm.
- Harm occurred.
- Criminal laws address behaviors that threaten society, including: murder, robbery, domestic violence, assault and battery, etc. Criminal charges usually carry penalties that restrict freedom and/or fines.
- Administrative regulations prescribe actions that can be taken against a license when a licensee fails to meet a standard of care or violates rules or laws affecting the suitability for practice within the jurisdiction of the license.
- Ethical and professional duty emanates from the nurse/patient relationship. This special relationship is possible, at least in part, due to the public's confidence that the licensed nurse is competent, will act in the patient's best interest, and is worthy of trust. Individual nurses endeavor every day to protect and expand the nurse/patient relationship while promoting, protecting and restoring the health of individuals, families and communities.
American nursing organizations have worked diligently to promote the trustworthiness of the nursing profession. They began by developing educational standards. The next goal was state licensure to give the occupation status and to facilitate its regulation. In 1950, the American Nurses Association ratified the Code for Professional Nurses. This professional code of ethics has since been revised several times to reflect the evolving role of nursing. Throughout these revisions, promotion of social justice and the delivery of nursing services without prejudice remain central to the code.
Leave RnCeus.com site to visit the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics at Nursingworld.org