The Nurses’ Bill of Rights enables a nurse to feel safe in their practice. The ANA endorses standards to apply this practice as a professional nurse. The Bill of Rights is not a legal document but can guide organizational policy development regarding contracts and work agreements.
- 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.
Not being supported, or considered troublemakers, creates poor working conditions. Kangasniemi, Stievano, and Pietila’s report shows where many studies have been done on “nurses rights as part of professional ethics” (2013), but lacks in the area of supporting autonomy as a nurse, as stated in the Nurses’ Bill of Rights (ANA), advocating for their patients as well as themselves by the American Nursing Association.
A nurse’s load can be hard due to short staffing, due to no days off or extended hours. These factors lead to nursing fatigue as well as patient errors. The American Association of Critical Nurses Standards (AACN) for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments Number four says, “Inappropriate staffing is one of the most harmful threats to patient safety and to the well-being of nurses” (AACN). A hospital study showing 13% of 335 medication errors resulting from nursing had an estimated monitoring and treatment cost of 450,260 dollars (Frith, Anderson, Fan, et al., pg 293). Medication errors due to over-stressed or overworked nurses can lead to an unsafe practice, surely not wanted by the facility or the healthcare practitioner.
Work environments need continual assessment and ongoing reflection on staffing needs. Today’s technology provides a safety net in medication errors. It gives on-hand patient information at the touch of a screen. Today’s workplaces have incentives and demands to automate and provide technology, making administrative functions quicker. Technology helps in decreasing errors and implementation of new practices. But, what is done for the direct patient care? I feel the registered nurse needs incentives, education, and ability to contribute to the development of new or improved practices. Through these areas, we can help ensure nursing rights and patient safety in a professional working environment.
American Association of Critical Nursing. [AACN]. Healthy work environment standards. Retrieved from: http://www.aacn.org/WD/HWE/Docs/HWEStandards.pdf
American Nursing Association, Nurses’ bill of rights. Retrieved from: http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/WorkplaceSafety/ Healthy-Work-Environment/Work-Environment/NursesBillofRights
Frith, K. H., Anderson, E., Fan, T., & Fong, E. A. (2012). Nurse staffing is an important strategy to prevent medication errors in community hospitals. Nursing Economic$, 30(5), 288-294.
Kangasniemi, M., Stievano, A., Pietilä, A. (2013). Nurses perceptions of their professional rights. Nursing Ethics 20(4), 259-26
The Nurses’ Bill of Rights at the ANA website
AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence.