Etan Yeshua, JD, MSN, RN; VHC Health; Washington, DC
Emergency nurses often face ethical dilemmas in their interactions with law enforcement. One such dilemma arises when police order emergency nurses to forcibly catheterize a resisting arrestee in order to collect a urine specimen for the sole purpose of obtaining evidence of drug or alcohol use. Although the procedure is invasive and serves no medical purpose, police argue it could produce evidence to protect public health and safety by keeping dangerous drivers off the road. This presentation assesses the ethical implications of the practice for nurses through a review of clinical literature, state laws, and court cases. It concludes that the practice violates nurses’ principal ethical obligations to hold a patient’s welfare as our primary commitment and does little to promote public health and safety. Therefore, hospitals and professional nursing organizations should issue policies and position statements to clarify for nurses, judges, law enforcement officers, and legislators that internally catheterizing unwilling people for the sole purpose of obtaining urine samples as evidence for police is antithetical to the values of nursing.
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This event is approved for CLE with the Alabama, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania state bars for live or on-demand participation. This event is approved for Nursing CE with the California Board of Nursing for live or on-demand participation.
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