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The Framework of the Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia

You are on placement and are walking your patient/woman back to their bed. On the way you pass another student nurse/midwife who is talking with another patient/woman. You can hear some heated exchange between them and look over to hear the patient/woman shout an expletive at the student who then slaps the patient/woman and walks off. You and your patient/woman (who also heard and saw the incident) are quite shaken by what you have seen and once your patient/woman is back in their bed you go to find your fellow student. The student is crying and quite upset but asks you not to say anything. You are concerned about what you witnessed and you are also concerned how this might affect the other student.

You are sharing a flat with another newly registered nurse/midwife and have noticed some changes in behaviour over the past month following a relationship break up. Your flatmate works on the same ward and has been regularly drinking heavily since the break up and was charged (over the “high limit”) with drink driving 2 days ago. You had to pick them up from the police station in the early hours. You discussed with them about reporting this to your NUM/MUM but your flatmate does not want to report stating ‘It’s none of their business, I didn’t hurt anyone.’

You are both leaving for an early shift and your flatmate is catching a lift with you into work. They had been out late last night and smell strongly of alcohol and still appear affected by alcohol and when you discuss this with them they ask you not to say anything.

You are an RN/RM and are responsible for facilitating students on clinical placement in a rural facility for several education providers. You have been working with a student on an early shift and have been admitting a patient/woman who needs to go to theatre. You take off their necklace and watch and put this in the top drawer, telling the patient/woman that once they are admitted and prepared for theatre you will put their valuables in a marked envelope in the locked drawer. Once the patient/woman is admitted you ask the student to finish tidying up. You go off to get an envelope to put the valuables in and label with their name and when you get back to the bed the watch is in the drawer, but the necklace is missing. You ask the student where the necklace is and they own up to taking this and hand this back to you. 
 

The Framework of the Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia

Legal requirements

The professional code of conduct mandates how a person is supposed to conduct himself/herself in a professional and ethical capacity. The Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia along with the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia gives the framework for conducting professional behavior and act in their sphere of expertise with proper ethics. The above-mentioned legislations guide the conduct of a varied range of professionals- nurses, nursing students and it is their duty to act with concern and care and uphold the principles of their professional ethics (Schmidt, MacWilliams and Neal Boylan 2017). Nurses are expected to act in accordance with the proposed legislations and regulations and they have to maintain the community’s trust that is laid down on them. The nurses are responsible for the well-being of their patients and therefore they have to act with proper care and concern.

In this present case, a nurse is seen to be behaving badly with her patient and using expletive, which was witnessed by another nurse and student creating a long impact on them. The nurse is seen to be indulging in a heated behavior and slapping the patient. The nurse is expected to conduct herself in a compassionate manner, which she violates and therefore she has acted contrary to the laid principles that are expected of a nurse/midwife. The ethical issues that are associated with this scenario is that the nurse must have been more concerned about the student and should not have made him go through the torture. The student who has been treated badly suffers trauma and therefore it can be said that the nurse has acted in violation of her ethical duties (Kangasniemi, Pakkanen and Korhonen 2015). 

Implications for health facility

The code of Professional Conduct for Nurses gives a brief framework that is aligned with the standards and competence that are expected of a nurse or an education provider. The presumption of the Code is that they will act in the best interests of the patients that are under them. The legislation is significant for nursing profession as it will maintain the ethics among individuals. In the present case, the nurse was expected to conduct herself keeping in mind the best interest of the patient and should not have behaved in a way to cause harm and trauma. The implications of the code is to ensure that there is no professional misconduct and that the behavior is not such to demean someone (Carr 2016). If duty of law is applied in this scenario, then the nurses are bound to carry out their designated duties. On the other hand, the purpose of apology laws is to prevent particular statements from being admissible lawsuit. The nurse has displayed unprofessional misconduct as she has slapped the patient inflicting pain and trauma.

Instances of Unprofessional Conduct by Nurses

Reflection

Living in a hostel, I had to be taken to a hospital where I saw a heated discussion break out where the patient was verbally abused by a drunken nurse. The nurse erred in her behavior but the patient was too scared to complain to the higher authorities. Having seen the outbreak in front of my eyes, I decided to file a complaint against the nurse so that such behavior is not repeated in the near future. Similarly, in this case, the patient was too traumatized to complain but I believe, the nurse who has witnessed such unprofessional behavior should help the patient and her strength to complain against the nurse as it is not morally and ethically permissible to physically assault an ailing patient. In my opinion, a similar situation was observed in the case of Dewan v Medical Board of Australia [2012] VCAT 1840. 

Legal requirements

In this particular scenario, the Code of ethics for Nurses in Australia is applicable as being nurses, certain ethical rules and regulations must be followed. The related framework states that the nurses should abide by the ethics and must perform their activities in a professional manner (Carroll, To and Unger 2015). As per the legal requirements, it has been observed that every professional, nurse in such scenario must conduct in such manner that is appropriate during their time of duty. It can therefore be stated that nurses are bound to follow the rules and carry out their duties accordingly.

In the present scenario, it has been observed that a newly registered midwife/nurse have been on alcohol and the next day she had gone to work in that condition. Being a nurse, she should not have attended her duty on that condition. The legal requirements state that it is their duty to take care of other individuals and hence they should be in their best manner while performing their job. A drunk nurse cannot handle patients with care and therefore, it will be considered to be unethical (Van Dijck 2017). The principles that have been laid down are related to the ethical issues that must be followed by the nurses since their duty is to take care of individuals who are ill.

Implications for health facility

The legislation or the Code of Professional Ethics state that nurses cannot be associated with unethical issues at their workplace. This is because their job is to take care of others and hence they have to be sober and in their senses (Kangasniemi, Pakkanen and Korhonen 2015). In the present situation, it has been observed that being a newly registered nurse, she cannot be on alcohol for a period more that 48 hours and go to work in that condition. This is a purely unethical gesture on the part of a nurse as being drunk while performing her duty is illegal as well. The implications of the code is to make sure that no unethical issues or misconduct must take place in their workplace. Duty of law must be followed as being a nurse; she should not have consumed alcohol and performed her activities thereafter (Johnstone 2016). Hence, apology laws must be applied in such a case as the nurse was at fault while dealing with the patients. As per the employers policies, nurses must follow the given policies and rules while carrying out their duties. 

Ethical Implications of Unprofessional Conduct

Reflection

I had to share my flat with a newly registered nurse/midwife who had behavioral issues, since she was on alcohol for 2 days. While being drunk, she had gone for a drive and I had to pick her up from the police station. Being a nurse, she should have known her responsibilities and duties. However, I was threatened to not report this incident to the NUM as according to her she did not hurt anyone when she was drunk. It was very unhygienic for me to share the flat with an individual who was on alcohol for 2 days and accompanied me to work the next day by stinking of alcohol. Therefore, it was also established in the case of DRP v Medical Board of Victoria [2012] VCAT 1904.

Legal requirements

The Code of Professional Ethics or the legislation state that the education providers as well as the students have a few duties and responsibilities while carrying out their activities. Employees must therefore be loyal towards their employers and institution they are working for as per the employer’s policies. Patients also have a level of faith towards the doctors and the institution (Hodgson 2017). There are legal issues that must be followed by all the individuals associated with it. The valuables of a patient are the responsibility of the hospitals or the doctors. In the present scenario, the student had lost one of the belongings of the patient and blamed the education provider. 

Implications for health facility

The framework of ethics state that there are policies that must be followed and hence the duties must be carried out in a professional manner. The implications of the code discuss the process of how every individual must carry out their activities professionally and ethically.  The present scenario stated that the belongings of the patient were kept in the drawer and it was hence the responsibility of the student. However, the necklace was misplaced when the student went to get it. The student therefore, blamed the RM but it is him who will be held liable for such an activity. It was his duty that he should have carried out ethically.

Reflection

I have facilitated the students based on the rural facilities that they must use while taking the patients to the theatre. The ethical ways of dealing with the patients and how they should be treated. However, it is the responsibility of every individual to carry out his or her duties in a professional and ethical manner. Thus, the student did not perform his tasks accordingly and misplaced one of the belongings of the student. I cannot be held liable as it is ethically wrong since it was not my responsibility to look after the belonging. 

References:

Carr, D., 2016. Virtue, character and emotion in people professions: towards a virtue ethics of interpersonal professional conduct. In Towards Professional Wisdom (pp. 113-126). Routledge.

Carroll, R., To, C. and Unger, M., 2015. Apology Legislation and its Implications for International Dispute Resolution. Disp. Resol. Int'l, 9, p.115.

Hodgson, D., 2017. Individual duty within a human rights discourse. Routledge.

Johnstone, M.J., 2016. Key milestones in the operationalisation of professional nursing ethics in Australia: a brief historical overview. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, The, 33(4), p.35.

Kangasniemi, M., Pakkanen, P. and Korhonen, A., 2015. Professional ethics in nursing: an integrative review. Journal of advanced nursing, 71(8), pp.1744-1757.

LeMone, P., Burke, K., Dwyer, T., Levett-Jones, T., Moxham, L. and Reid-Searl, K., 2015. Medical-surgical nursing. Pearson Higher Education AU.

Scanlon, A., Cashin, A., Bryce, J., Kelly, J.G. and Buckely, T., 2016. The complexities of defining nurse practitioner scope of practice in the Australian context. Collegian, 23(1), pp.129-142.

Schmidt, B.J., MacWilliams, B.R. and Neal-Boylan, L., 2017. Becoming inclusive: a code of conduct for inclusion and diversity. Journal of Professional Nursing, 33(2), pp.102-107.

Van Dijck, G., 2017. The Ordered Apology. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 37(3), pp.562-587.

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[Accessed 03 March 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Code Of Professional Conduct For Nurses In Australia: Ethical And Legal Responsibilities Essay.' (My Assignment Help, 2020) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/nur222-code-of-ethics-for-nurses-in-australia> accessed 03 March 2024.

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