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Nurses banned from flirting

A new rule officially forbids Australian nurses from flirting with patients, telling off-color jokes or discussing personal problems with patients.

The rule was issued by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, in part due to complaints from patients. According to the NSW Nurses and Midwives Board, 17 complaints about professional boundary issues involving nurses have been made in the past year; 47 complaints have been recorded in the past five years.

The new rule also prohibits discussing feelings of sexual attraction with patients and using sexual innuendo or improper language.

While the American Nurses’ Association’s Code of Ethics for Nurses does not specifically address flirting, innuendo or improper language, it states that, “in all encounters, nurses are responsible for maintaining their professional boundaries.”

Do you think more specific guidelines are necessary? Have you witnessed improper nurse/patient behavior?


Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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2 Responses to Nurses banned from flirting

  1. Nurses can assess and review their knowledge of professional boundaries with our latest Learning Nurse quiz at

  2. I have not seen improper behavior within the area of my work that being in PACU. Then,again, I work with older,experienced nurses in their 50’s and 60’s. Due to changing sexual standards and a freedom of social restraint, it may prove that standards of professional conduct be introduced in the classrooms and on acceptance of employment. I know that when I first attended nursing classes the first thing hammered in my brain in 1964 was that a nurse never spoke of personal problems, that we focus on the patient and their problems. This was reiterated throughout my nursing classes and brought to bear when I was approved for employment.