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ANA Hails Decision to Allow Navy Nurse to Resume Full Military Duties

Jemarion Jones, 301-628-5198

Steve Carpinelli, 301-628-5034

SILVER SPRING, MD — The American Nurses Association (ANA) applauds recent developments that have allowed a Navy nurse who chose to discontinue force-feeding detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp two years ago, based on well-established professional and ethical obligations, to fully resume his military duties. The following statement is attributable to ANA Chief Executive Officer, Marla J. Weston, PhD, RN, FAAN, in response to these developments:

"Ethics is an essential component of everyday nursing practice. By refusing to force-feed prison detainees, the Navy nurse followed his ethical obligations by recognizing his first duty is to the patient, regardless of the health care setting or employer. ANA maintains that this right should be protected and exercised without retaliation, and commends the Navy nurse for his courage and integrity.

The ANA Code of Ethics for Nurse with Interpretive Statements clearly supports the ethical right of a professional nurse to make an independent judgment regarding whether to participate in the plan of care, including force-feeding, as appropriate. The Navy nurse's return to full military duty is not only a victory for him, but for all nurses who choose to put the needs of their patients first.

ANA continues to urge military leadership and other health providers to recognize the ethical code of conduct to which all professional nurses are accountable and to create an environment that allows for a thorough review of individual situations and is receptive to concerns raised by nurses and other health care professionals."

In March 2013, journalists reported that detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp were engaged in renewed hunger strikes and that Naval medical personnel, including nurses, were being used to force-feed the detainees. ANA supported the nurse as he faced dismissal from the Navy for following his professional ethical obligations and awarded him its "Year of Ethics" award in 2015. ANA continues to support the right of registered nurses to object to participating in the force-feeding of detainees.

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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 3.4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all.

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The American Nurses Foundation is a separate charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation does not engage in political campaign activities or communications.

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