Patient Advocacy and Professional Associations: individual and collective responsibilities

Nursing Ethics 12 (3):296-304 (2005)
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Professions have traditionally treated advocacy as a collective duty, best assigned to professional associations to perform. In North American nursing, advocacy for issues affecting identifiable patients is assigned instead to their nurses. We argue that nursing associations’ withdrawal from advocacy for patient care issues is detrimental to nurses and patients alike. Most nurses work in large institutions whose internal policies they cannot influence. When these create obstacles to good care, the inability of nurses to affect change can result in avoidable distress for them and for their patients. We illustrate this point with a case study: the circumstances of the death of Michael Joseph LeBlanc, an inmate at Kingston Penitentiary Regional Hospital (Ontario). We conclude that patients and their nurses will suffer unnecessarily unless or until nursing associations cease to burden individual nurses with the responsibility for patient advocacy



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Jennifer Welchman
University of Alberta

References found in this work

The Nurse as Patient Advocate.Ellen W. Bernal - 1992 - Hastings Center Report 22 (4):18-23.

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