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Ethics- Nurses have them, QC Doesn’t

Nurses and Ethics Go Hand-in-Hand

For over 20 years, the profession of nursing has consistently been declared the most ethical and trustworthy profession (Gallop, 2020). I work as a nurse educator and pass along this value to new nurses.

All nurses must adhere to the American Nurses Association's Code of Ethics for Nurses (ANA, 2015) as well as each respective state’s Nurse Practice Act (Arkansas State Board of Nursing, 2022) on and off the clock. Individuals who violate these policies may be subject to one or more of the following disciplinary and/or remedial actions: Denial of application/reapplication, the requirement to take corrective action(s), private reprimand and censure, public reprimand and censure, a term of probation, suspension or, license revocation (ASBN, 2022). Ask any nurse- as soon as we receive our monthly state board publication, we immediately flip to the back to look at the public reprimands.

Individual nurses can be punished by the government for unethical behavior. So imagine my surprise to witness unethical behavior in my own local county government.

Imagine greater shock that there were two behemoth examples in one night.

Let’s rewind to the night of February 17, 2022. First up is what is now known as “The Karas Resolution.” Essentially, it is a declaration that expresses gratitude for the physician that is contracted to provide services at the county jail. On the surface, this seems like a great idea, but here’s a little background- this county jail doc used a prescription cocktail that included Ivermectin to treat COVID among incarcerated people. Said doc is now being sued by a group of his jail patients who claim they were unaware they were receiving the medication until a national news story broke and family called them in jail to tell them their treatment included it. The scandal has even been compared to the Tuskegee Experiment! Lawsuits for negligent treatment received by people while in jail have also been filed against this doctor.

Screenshots courtesy of public Facebook post.

(Just as an aside and this may come as a shock to a lot of people, but I have actually referred people to this doctor. If I know that someone is dead-set on taking Ivermectin, I have steered them away from the feed store and to a licensed provider. During the course of my healthcare career, I have learned that people make choices that I would not make. I view my role as a nurse is to get them to do those different choices safely.)

So back to the open human rights violation case. A JP who is an attorney advised that county leaders keep tight-lipped while there is pending litigation, as this would open them up to liability as well. The resolution passed with LOUD supermajority support anyway.

It was a slap in the face to me and all of my healthcare colleagues. Don’t believe me? See for yourself-

Screenshots courtesy of public Facebook post.

The issue here is not the Ivermectin. It’s that people didn’t know they were taking it. There was a lack of informed consent. Informed consent is legally required to be obtained before medical treatment, hence, the lawsuit above. Speaking of informed consent, next up on the agenda is a resolution supporting it...

It failed by supermajority vote.

I'm dumbfounded.

The county is obligated by state law to provide medical care to people in jail. The people currently in power went on record to support providing illegal and unethical medical care.

Stop for a moment and imagine what our community would look like if leadership lived the value of Ethics.

I am that leader.

I am Ash Lee Hicks and I am a nurse who is running for a seat on our Quorum Court. I will champion healthcare at our jail. I will bring a strong sense of ethics to our Quorum Court that it so desperately needs. The people of Washington County deserve no less.

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