ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, On Navy Nurse Force-Feeding Decision (5/13/15)

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May 13, 2015

Jemarion Jones, 301-628-5198
Adam Sachs, 301-628-5034

ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN,
On Navy Nurse Force-Feeding Decision

SILVER SPRING, MD – The American Nurses Association applauds the decision taken by the United States Navy not to pursue further action against the Navy nurse who – based on well-established professional, ethical obligations – chose to discontinue force-feeding detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

We believe this decision reflects the Navy’s recognition that the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements supports the rights of nurses to make independent ethical judgments and to recuse themselves without retaliation from participation in care they find ethically objectionable. 

This decision also recognizes the registered nurse’s first duty is to the patient, regardless of the setting of care or the employment situation.

ANA urges all military and health care leadership to partner with us in creating employment situations that recognize the ethical code of conduct to which all registered nurses are accountable and which supports nurses and other health care providers in fulfilling their ethical obligations.

ANA appreciates the efforts of the Defense Health Board’s Medical Ethics Subcommittee in reviewing current military medical professional practice policies and procedures. If fully implemented, the recommendations outlined in the report, Ethical Guidelines and Practices for U.S. Military Medical Professionals, would begin to move the military toward establishing an environment that upholds the ethical obligations of all military health care professionals. Many of the recommendations closely align with ANA’s recommendations to the committee, including:

  • Creation of an office within the Department of Defense dedicated to ethics leadership, policy and oversight;
  • Formation of policies that recognize the military health care professional’s FIRST ethical obligation is to the patient;
  • Establishment of specific education and training in the area of ethics; and
  • Development of mechanisms that allow for the excusal of health professionals from participating in medical procedures that violate their professional code of ethics.

We applaud the U.S. Navy for upholding the ethical rights of this registered nurse, and we urge the Department of Defense leadership to adopt these recommendations. ANA stands ready to support the full and appropriate implementation of this report.

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