Some hospitals and hospices have policies that forbid nurses to be part of the process or even to discuss end-of-life options.
New York Times
Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi
When Ben Wald, 75, was dying of cancer in 2012, he wanted to use Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act to receive a prescription for a lethal medication that would end his life. His hospice nurse, Linda, was part of the discussion and provided both information and support, said his wife, Pam Wald, of Kings Valley, Ore.
His colon cancer had spread to his lungs, and his weight dropped from 180 to 118 pounds. He struggled to speak or eat.
When he was ready to end his life, the couple wanted Linda with them, but the hospice organization she worked for did not allow it, Mrs. Wald said. The organization allowed other hospice workers, such as social workers and massage therapists, to be present, but not the doctors or nurses it employed. . . [Full text]
CNN)The American Pharmacists Association is discouraging its members from participating in executions. On Monday, the group voted at its annual meeting to adopt a ban as an official policy, stating that “such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as healthcare providers.”
This bolsters the association’s previous positions to oppose the use of the term “drug” for chemicals used in lethal injection and to oppose laws that require or prohibit pharmacists from participation in lethal injection cases. . . [Full text]
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba
One of America’s leading nursing organizations is trying to save the U.S. Navy career of an officer, a nurse like them, who refused to force-feed hunger strikers this summer.
In a private letter, the American Nurses Association wrote Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last month arguing that the nurse should not be punished for making an independent ethical decision. The Physicians for Human Rights set up a conference call for Wednesday with the Navy nurse’s attorney and the advocacy group’s president to disclose the letter, which has been obtained by the Miami Herald.
It says: “These actions are resulting from the nurse’s expressing an ethical objection to participating in the force-feeding of detainees who are engaging in a form of protest at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp.” The Pentagon has not responded.
The Miami Herald disclosed the crisis of conscience over the summer after a Syrian hunger striker heard the lieutenant declare he could no longer force-feed, told his lawyer about it, and the prison confirmed it happened.
Commanders cut short the deployment of the male nurse — who has never been publicly identified — and returned him to his base in New England. His boss ordered that a Board of Inquiry be formed to consider whether to discharge him from military service. . . [Full Text]
ANA Statement on the Rights of Navy Nurse to Refuse to Participate in the Force-feeding of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay
Statement attributable to ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN:
ANA has been actively monitoring the force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay for more than two years, and we support the registered nurses in the military who have to make very difficult decisions related to either moving forward with or questioning any activity within a plan of care.
Professional registered nurses operate under a Code of Ethics that emphasizes the right to make independent, ethical judgments regardless of the setting in which nursing care is provided—even if this causes a nurse to experience conflict arising from competing loyalties.
The rights of registered nurses to honor their professional ethical obligations regarding force-feeding and other sensitive issues are absolutely protected and should be exercised without fear of retaliation.
We urge military leaders and health providers to uphold the ethical code of conduct to which all professional registered nurses are accountable and to be receptive to concerns raised by nurses or any other health care professional who is compelled, by an ethical commitment, to question any activity within the plan of care.
We do not believe this nurse should have to show cause for remaining in the Navy.
The American Nurses’ Association has offered a draft policy document for public input until 8 November. The position statement opposes nurse participation in euthanasia and assisted suicide. Some of those opposed to the procedures remain concerned that the draft statement equates the provision of food and fluids with medical treatment that can be withdrawn from patients even if they are not dying. [Lifesite News]