Nurses Union Directives In Protest Against The Triaging Of Patients Raise Legal And Ethical Concerns
The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) proposed directives in protest to their newly appointed role in the triaging of patients and these have raised legal and ethical concerns since they are said to put the health of the patient at risk.
Triaging involves taking the temperature of patients and asking them a series of basic questions to assess whether they have COVID-19 symptoms.
This is done to decipher whether they should be allowed to congregate with other patients.
Doctors have been doing this work until recently when the health authorities decided to shift the load to nurses and reception personnel so as to free up doctors’ time.
This decision was met with a memo from the MUMN president Paul Pace who ordered several directives that a prohibitory injunction found to risk the health of patients.
Some of the directives involve the stopping of; bloodletting, assisting in suturing, ear syringing and the removal of sutures – the latter three Pace described as forming part of “non-essential services”.
However, a prohibitory injunction filed in the Civil Courts in December by the Ministry for Health found that the halting of these procedures pose a risk to the health of the patient and thus concerns of breaches of the Maltese Code of Ethics for Nurses and Midwives have been raised.
The code states that “nurses and midwives must always have, and be seen to have, the interests of their patients as their topmost priority”. This also includes instances of “industrial action”.
Of course if they are consciously risking the health of their patients through the implementation of these directives, then the MUMN is not putting the interest and welfare of said patients first.
Pace essentially argued that the triaging process should only be done by qualified medical staff, not including nurses. However, the chief of the Medical Association of Malta insisted that the job is not exclusive to doctors since it entails “asking a few simple questions”.
Pace’s claim also led to some saying that he is devaluing the importance of nurses to escape certain responsibilities.
This can also be considered a breach of the ethical code which explains that “nurses should strive to have the worth of their work appreciated and adequately remunerated”.
Lovin Malta has reached out to the Health Ministry for a comment.
Do you think that these directives should be retracted?