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Legal and Ethical Implications of Nursing Assignments, Coursework Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1100

Coursework

Introduction

The staffing example provided demonstrates the need to better understand how staffing experience levels and level of comfort are essential to a successful practice setting. At the same time, if a staff nurse is asked to assist on another shift, it is his or her responsibility to address this situation in a professional manner and to recognize the importance her role during the transition period. This is critical to success and it enables her to garner respect for helping out as needed in perhaps a difficult situation. By leaving her post, this decision raises a number of moral and ethical concerns that require further consideration because this behavior should not be tolerated. Nonetheless, all issues involving the case must be addressed and the different aspects must be considered in order to accomplish the staffing objectives that are required.

Analysis

A staff nurse who leaves his or her post essentially without warning is not behaving in a professional manner and requires further evaluation and perhaps disciplinary action from the nurse manager. This is an ethical violation because nurses are trained to remain in place and to provide care to their patients throughout the scheduled shift (Ulrich et.al, 2010). When this is not the case, then the nurse has violated the terms of employment by abandoning the shift in this manner. Nurses face a variety of stressful situations throughout their practice settings; however, they must remain focused and committed as best as possible without distractions that could interfere with patient care (Varcoe et.al, 2012). Although the nurse was clearly uncomfortable with the situation, leaving the post without warning or without a good reason is a serious violation that must be properly addressed by the nurse manager.

For some nurses who are put in a position where they are uncomfortable, the stress and lack of knowledge of the unit may be too much to bear. However, these issues must be addressed at the time of the appointment so that if the nurse is uncomfortable enough with the situation to warrant a change, this is taken care of prior to having the nurse start the scheduled shift and then leave on the grounds of stress and discomfort. The latter scenario could be avoided if the nurse demonstrates honesty at the very beginning of the assignment so that the nurse manager is aware of the level of discomfort and another nurse may be assigned to the post if at all possible.

In this example, the nurse manager and the staff nurse may have regrets regarding the assignment because it interferes with the ability to provide high quality care on the nursing unit (Pavlish et.al, 2011). This process is important because it provides a sense of responsibility for the nurse manager to staff properly during shortages and when additional nurses are required. If this task is not properly executed, then a situation such as the one in the example is likely to occur, which could otherwise be prevented. Properly staffing the nursing unit when overflow is required is essential to the success of the unit and in supporting the needs of the unit during a difficult period. Therefore, it is necessary to adopt specific guidelines that will be effective in this process and that will support a positive approach to outcomes that will reflect new learning experiences for nurse managers and for staff nurses who are assigned during these situations.

If a nurse is given an assignment that does not match his or her skillset, it is important to address these concerns as soon as possible in order to prevent further complications within the situation. The employee is doing a disservice to him or herself by continuing with the assignment, and is also potentially placing patients at risk because of these activities. Therefore, it is important to bring this to the manager’s attention early on to avoid any problems that could disrupt the unit and its patients at any given point in time. Staff nurses must be honest and forthright with their information if they are unable to share their concerns with the nurse manager in charge, as this demonstrates a lack of confidence and an understanding of the type of commitment that is required to provide patient care during the shift.

The nurse manager making the decision to pull an employee from a different floor to work on the unit must also be aware of his or her experiences and level of comfort with the change so that there are no unforeseen complications with the nurse with this temporary placement. Therefore, understanding the workload and this type of commitment is necessary in order to determine the appropriate staffing decisions that are required (Duffield et.al, 2011). This requires managers to have knowledge of staffing at all times and to also be on top of emerging situations where additional staffing may be required so that the transition and inclusion of new staff on a temporary basis is seamless and appropriate to promote a high standard of care when interim staff are on duty.

Conclusion

Recognizing the importance of proper staffing is a critical component of nursing practice and provides a framework for achieving greater quality of care for all patients. This strategy is instrumental in advancing outcomes for patients and in enabling nurses who are comfortable and knowledgeable of a given specialty area to be staffed appropriately. This process will ensure that the organization is effectively prepared to manage the needs of the unit at any given point in time. If a nurse assigned to a unit on an interim basis is uncomfortable with the assignment, he or she must notify the nurse manager immediately instead of taking other actions that could ultimately lead to disciplinary action. Furthermore, these activities require the manager to properly assess the situation and the current needs of the unit in order to staff properly so that the appropriate staff members with the required experience levels are selected to fill in on a temporary basis.

References

Duffield, C., Diers, D., O’Brien-Pallas, L., Aisbett, C., Roche, M., King, M., & Aisbett, K. (2011). Nursing staffing, nursing workload, the work environment and patient outcomes. Applied Nursing Research, 24(4), 244-255.

Pavlish, C., Brown‐Saltzman, K., Hersh, M., Shirk, M., & Rounkle, A. M. (2011). Nursing priorities, actions, and regrets for ethical situations in clinical practice. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 43(4), 385-395.

Ulrich, C. M., Taylor, C., Soeken, K., O’Donnell, P., Farrar, A., Danis, M., & Grady, C. (2010). Everyday ethics: ethical issues and stress in nursing practice. Journal of advanced nursing, 66(11), 2510-2519.

Varcoe, C., Pauly, B., Storch, J., Newton, L., & Makaroff, K. (2012). Nurses’ perceptions of and responses to morally distressing situations. Nursing Ethics, 19(4), 488-500.

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