This statement has been said to my class since the first day. A nurse’s first and most important job is to be an advocate for their patient. To ensure that the person they are taking care of is being taken care of in the best way possible. That their rights and dignity are protected. That they walk out of the hospital (or where ever else) well (or as well as can be) knowing that somebody was doing their level best to listen to them and care for them.
We’ve all seen the memes talking about how nurses spend all day taking care of patients to the neglect of their own needs. Skipping breaks, not going to the bathroom, staying well past their shift end to chart because the didn’t have time to do it. All of that is par for the course and yet so few people realize it. Those who come to the hospital are rarely at their best and often are going through their own personal hell. It’s fair, I think, for them to not realize that they are not the nurse’s only (or perhaps even primary) concern. Nurses don’t often get recognized for they what they do although I will say that they are at least treated better in the eyes of public opinion than teachers often are. That’s a blog for another day though.
So the video of a nurse being arrested for protecting her patient’s rights is disturbing to me. It should be disturbing to anybody and generally, people do seem outraged. But seriously, does it have to come to this? Do we need to come to a point where a nurse needs to stand and print out the hospital policy for a police officer and still ends up in handcuffs for refusing to violate the very policy that she is showing him. A violation which I would guarantee would cost her her job and would likely cost her her nurse’s license. And still people defend this police officer.
Really? Let that sink in. There are people who think the police were in the right to handcuff a nurse for refusing to violate the duty she has to her patient. For what? A vial of blood that by the officer’s statement was to prove the victim’s innocence? First off, does anybody really buy that? They wanted to prove his innocence? We don’t have a legal system that works like that. Secondly, anybody who thinks that the police have a right to tell you to disregard the rules of your employer because the police said so needs to really think about their position here. That’s a dangerous precedent that places the police above the law.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I have enormous respect for police officers. They do a job where they put their lives at risk by simply going to work. It’s not for the faint of heart. They get into some pretty terrible stuff and see some things that no person should ever have to see. However, at a certain point we need to look at what we are willing to allow to happen. No, not all officers would do this… although, those defending the officer are saying that he was following his superior’s orders, so perhaps they believe that any officer would have done the same. I choose to believe that most officers would not have gone that route though.
Ultimately, this is opening up a dialogue and that’s good. The nurse involved has said that she wants to ensure this never happens again. Perhaps we all need to have a dialogue though. Talk to the people who serve you. In every capacity. Take the time to listen to them and what they have to say. Police officers, nurses, rescue personnel, fire fighters, teachers… all of them have a unique position in this world. All of them do jobs that few people choose to do and most do those jobs as well as they can. A little respect and taking some time to actually listen would do us all a world of good.
Oh, and next time you get a moment, tell your nurse thank you.