Ethics of nurses dating patients

context or length of interaction, the therapeutic nurse–patient relationship protects the patient's What if a nurse wants to date or even marry a former patient?.
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This conversation is not an easy one for the nurse and the individual to have, and the individual should be reassured that the matter is being treated with the appropriate degree of confidentiality. However, despite the best efforts of the nurse, it may be that the result is that the clinical relationship cannot be re-established. Unfortunately, sometimes a nurse will not recognise that their relationship with a patient or a member of their family is becoming intimate.

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If you think that colleague is in danger of failing to keep appropriate professional boundaries, you have a duty to do something about it. If you witness such behaviour by a colleague, you cannot ignore it. Discuss the issues with those involved. Report to an appropriate person at the earliest opportunity and take other actions necessary to safeguard patients.

You may consider speaking to your colleague about what you have witnessed. If you decide to take this approach, remember that what you say may come as a total surprise to your colleague, so give some thought to when, where and how you raise this with them. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to your colleague — or having spoken to your colleague, he or she fails to acknowledge the matter — you should speak to your supervisor.

To ensure that you accurately recall the event you witnessed, and also to provide your supervisor with clear information, you should write down the details of the incident, including date, time, parties involved, and any other witnesses to the event. If you have approached the nurse, you should document the detail of this conversation.

Maintaining appropriate boundaries with patients | Nursing Review

Taking this action protects the patient, the nurse and yourself. A relationship with a former patient or member of their family may be inappropriate. While the Nursing Council guidelines and tribunal decisions do give an indication of the factors they consider, it is very difficult for a nurse to be certain that they can enter such a relationship without fear of a professional misconduct complaint being made against them. If the nurse gets this wrong, they run a very real risk that their registration could be cancelled or suspended.

If you are unclear about professional boundaries, consider discussing it with a colleague knowledgeable in this area, or attending an appropriate course, such as the one offered by the College of Nurses. If it feels dodgy, it probably is! B Hons and LL. M Health Law was a mental health nurse for more than 20 years before becoming a Christchurch solicitor.

Nurses Ranked #1 MOST Ethical & Honest Profession - 2017, Gallup Poll

He has a keen interest in the legal aspects of nursing practice, particularly professional conduct, and is an associate member of the College of Nurses Aotearoa. A nurse can be alert to the possibility that their professional boundaries, or those of a colleague, are being threatened by looking out for the following:. Ms S suffered multiple strokes in November and was transferred into X Hospital in December where she was settled into the facility by Nurse E. The guide details a number of factors that impact on whether a relationship will be deemed to be inappropriate or not, and these are taken into consideration by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal when it considers a complaint of this nature:.

An appearance before the tribunal, by its very nature, is not a pleasant experience and the best way to avoid this happening to you is to recognise the signs of becoming inappropriately involved with a patient or one of their family members see over-involvement sidebar. Sometimes a nurse will find that a person that they are caring for, or their family member, is attracted to them and displays sexualised behaviour, perhaps flirting in the first instance. When this occurs, the nurse should firstly advise a colleague and consider contacting their professional body to seek advice on the most appropriate step to take.

The nurse may decide to speak with the patient or family member displaying the attraction, gently explaining what they have noticed and then outlining the professional boundaries that they as a nurse are required to maintain. This conversation is not an easy one for the nurse and the individual to have, and the individual should be reassured that the matter is being treated with the appropriate degree of confidentiality.

However, despite the best efforts of the nurse, it may be that the result is that the clinical relationship cannot be re-established. Unfortunately, sometimes a nurse will not recognise that their relationship with a patient or a member of their family is becoming intimate. If you think that colleague is in danger of failing to keep appropriate professional boundaries, you have a duty to do something about it. If you witness such behaviour by a colleague, you cannot ignore it.

Discuss the issues with those involved. Report to an appropriate person at the earliest opportunity and take other actions necessary to safeguard patients. You may consider speaking to your colleague about what you have witnessed. If you decide to take this approach, remember that what you say may come as a total surprise to your colleague, so give some thought to when, where and how you raise this with them. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to your colleague — or having spoken to your colleague, he or she fails to acknowledge the matter — you should speak to your supervisor.

To ensure that you accurately recall the event you witnessed, and also to provide your supervisor with clear information, you should write down the details of the incident, including date, time, parties involved, and any other witnesses to the event.

If you have approached the nurse, you should document the detail of this conversation. Taking this action protects the patient, the nurse and yourself. A relationship with a former patient or member of their family may be inappropriate. While the Nursing Council guidelines and tribunal decisions do give an indication of the factors they consider, it is very difficult for a nurse to be certain that they can enter such a relationship without fear of a professional misconduct complaint being made against them. If the nurse gets this wrong, they run a very real risk that their registration could be cancelled or suspended.

If you are unclear about professional boundaries, consider discussing it with a colleague knowledgeable in this area, or attending an appropriate course, such as the one offered by the College of Nurses. If it feels dodgy, it probably is! Home health nurses may help patients with tasks outside their job description, such as washing dishes or doing laundry.

A hospital-employed nurse may visit a former patient after discharge to check on his or her progress. But seemingly trivial boundary crossings sometimes lead to more troublesome unprofessional behaviors. This is considered a boundary violation. Keeping a patient in the hospital when a qualified caregiver is available could fall under this category. Inexperienced or younger nurses may be at risk for committing boundary violations because of lack of experience or understanding.

Some who violate boundaries may also have preexisting or underlying personal issues, such as substance abuse.

Don't cross the line: respecting professional boundaries.

Significant and emotional life events can pose risks for patients as they become vulnerable to compassionate feedback and seek to connect with others who can empathize with them. Signs of inappropriate behavior can be subtle at first. Early signs might include spending more time with a patient, showing favoritism, or meeting a patient in areas besides those used to provide direct patient care.

They may show dependence on a particular staff member, frequently request the same caregiver, or ask other staff questions about the nurse.


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The duty to address inappropriate relationships extends not only to the nurse directly involved, but also to nurses who are peers or managers of the involved nurse. Civil actions can arise for battery or other harm suffered by the patient such as intentional infliction of emotional distress. A patient can initiate a civil or criminal lawsuit against a nurse even if the sexual involvement took place after the nurse-patient relationship ended. Damages and legal representation fees may not be covered by professional liability insurance.

Pain and suffering can also be considered based on state law. Settlements against healthcare providers or plaintiff verdicts can be recorded in the Health Integrity and Protection Data Bank, which can be used by individual healthcare providers, employers, and lawyers to investigate any charges that might have been made against an individual or hospital.


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