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The Rights of Nurses

In carrying out his/her duty to patients, the nurse operates within the ethical rules governing the profession and his/her career scope of practice.

The confirmation of the rights of the nurse is therefore not an end in itself, but a means of ensuring improved service to patients.  To enable the nurse to provide safe, adequate nursing, he/she has the right to:

  1. practise in accordance with the scope which is legally permissible for his/her specific practice;
  2. a safe working environment which is compatible with efficient patient care and which is equipped with at least the minimum physical, material and personnel requirements;
  3. proper orientation and goal-directed in-service education in respect of the modes and methods of treatment and procedures relevant to his/her working situation;
  4. negotiation with the employer for such continuing professional education as may be directly or indirectly related to his/her responsibilities;
  5. in the case of a registered person, equal and full participation in such policy determination, planning and decision-making as may concern the treatment and care of the patient;
  6. advocacy for and protection of patients and personnel for whom he/she has accepted responsibility;
  7. conscientious objection, provided that:
bulletthe employer has been timeously informed in writing
bulletit does not interfere with the safety of the patient and/or interrupt his/her treatment and nursing;
  1. refuse to carry out a task reasonably regarded as outside the scope of his/her practice and for which he/she has insufficient training or for which he/she has insufficient knowledge or skill;
  2. not to participate in unethical or incompetent practice;
  3. written policy guidelines and prescriptions concerning the management of his/her working environment;
  4. refuse to implement a prescription or to participate in activities which, according to his/her professional knowledge and judgement, are not in the interest of the patient;
  5. have disclosed to him/her the diagnosis of patients for whom he/she accepts responsibility;
  6. a working environment which is free of threats, intimidation and/or interference;
  7. a medical support or referral system to handle emergency situations responsibly.

In addition to the above, the nurse is entitled to his/her rights in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and relevant labour legislation; provided that the exercising of such rights does not put at risk the life or health of patients.

South African Nursing Council acknowledges that nurses have rights too


2004 - 2018 South African Nursing Council (Under the provisions of the Nursing Act, 2005)
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