CARNA responds to Alberta Health Services' Code of Conduct

    EDMONTON, Aug. 14 /CNW/ - The College and Association of Registered
Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) has sent a letter to Alberta Health Services'
President and CEO Dr. Stephen Duckett to express concerns about the Alberta
Health Services' code of conduct.
    CARNA is particularly concerned that employees who raise concerns about
practices in their workplace could face job termination, regardless of the
validity of their claims. Over the past several weeks, CARNA has received
numerous phone calls and e-mails from registered nurses (RNs) who fear job
termination by Alberta Health Services if they express concerns regarding
situations in their practice settings.
    In the letter, CARNA suggests Alberta Health Services develop a process
that allows RNs and other employees to identify potential problems to the
organization. It is stressed that there must be other avenues available for
RNs to advocate for their patients when issues are not addressed at the
organizational level.
    Healthy dialogue is essential in maintaining patient safety. The
importance of free and open communication was made evident during the SARS
crisis in Toronto and in Winnipeg when a surgeon was providing unsafe care. In
both cases, people died because the organizations did not listen to the
concerns of front-line RNs.
    CARNA also takes issue with the document's unclear separation between
professional ethics and compliance with the code's requirements. In addition
to employer policies, registered nurses are held accountable to CARNA's Code
of Ethics for Registered Nurses, as required under the Health Professions Act.
As it is written now, the document gives no clear direction on what to do in
situations where professional ethics contradict the code of conduct. CARNA
suggests clarity could be improved by stating the expectations Alberta Health
Services has of its employees and identifying consequences for non-compliance.
    The end of the conduct code states that employees are obligated to advise
their supervisor if they are under investigation by their regulatory body.
CARNA does not support this requirement as all nurses who are the subject of a
complaint or are under investigation are presumed innocent until a hearing
tribunal has made a finding of unprofessional conduct.
    To read CARNA's letter to Duckett, visit

    CARNA is the professional and regulatory body for Alberta's more than
32,000 registered nurses, including nurses in direct care, education, research
and administration. Its mandate is to protect the public by ensuring that
Albertans receive effective, safe and ethical care by registered nurses.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview contact: Margaret
Ward-Jack, Director, Communications and Government Relations, T: (780)
453-0515, C: (780) 932-1376, F: (780) 452-3276,

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College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

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