Nurses and Corruption: We Must Defend Our Autonomy

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Any nurse is familiar with this rather common scenario:

1) Busy distracted physician makes an error, as all humans do and most admit, and promptly disappears.

2) Nurse carefully weighs just how unpleasant and necessary it will be to address the issue: such calls can most certainly evoke strong anger, and often do.

3) Nurse reluctantly does the right thing, makes her case, and prevents an error.  Victory for this patient!

This editorial role of nurses on physician orders is a routine and accepted – mandated! – nursing function, It happens countless times across America every day, preventing sometimes harmless, sometimes lethal mistakes, yet we Nurses have managed to take little or no credit for this important function.  We have generally ceded it by default to physicians.  In this way we have inadvertently contributed to public ignorance as to just how many errors our defective systems produce, and the ways overwork, distraction, and hospital culture each contribute.

Disturbingly, this problem has been much compounded as defensive or corrupt individuals – some physicians and administrators – motivated by ego, power, or money, actively retaliate against nurses who perform this crucial protective function and embarrasses them or risks revenues.   We have seen a sharp increase in reports of Nurses abused for such good care: harassment, firings, defamation and even threats of lost licensure. Nurses are under siege, and we each need to consider where we stand on this important issue.  When our working conditions become sufficiently hostile to ethical work, we each have a simple but intimidating choice: abandon our duty out of fear or convenience, or take our advocacy a step further by publicly taking a stand for Nursing autonomy and ethical care.

We at GRC and many colleagues have become interested in the growing corruption in health care that degrades the integrity and quality of research, administration, regulation, and clinical practice. Given the tremendous wealth and pervasive conflicts of interest in health care today, the notion of hundreds of billions of dollars lost annually to overcharging, waste, corruption, and unneeded interventions comes as no surprise.  Experience in clinical practice today corroborates such concerns.

Many nurse advocates, bloggers and their audiences have already chosen involvement over apathy and hopeless cynicism.  One case in particular, that of Amanda Trujillo, has focus much of our attention on Arizona, where our research has found evidence suggestive of abuse of the BON system to intimidate Nurses into silence and submission, and significant conflicts of interest between corporate health care, the AZ BON, and AZ Nursing Association.

At present, Arizona rates a D+ on The Center for Public Integrity grading scale for corruption, with F scores in State Civil Service Management and Ethics Enforcement, 27th among the 50 states overall, and far worse than that in these particular areas.

Three petitions on address these concerns, as we need your help: a few minutes to sign them can make a world of difference as numbers add up.

One petition calls on Arizona to show substantive improvements in the currently unsafe and hostile working conditions for Nurses.  To read more about this it – maybe even sign the it! – click here:

Another petition focuses specifically on Amanda’s case:

You can find excellent resources and opportunities to learn more and make useful contacts at, and the associated FB page.

We offer you thanks for your consideration in these matters, and invite you to take a stand between nurses and patients on one side, and profits at any cost on the other.

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