Once again, nurses have been named the most honest and ethical professionals in the nation. Eighty-three percent of the respondents to this year’s Gallup Honesty and Ethics of Professionals Poll rated nurses as having either “high or very high” ethical standards. Nurses’ #1 rating reflects a long-standing trend: nurses topped the poll in all but one of the last ten years.
Nurses’ role in preventing medical errors has also been well-documented over the last ten years. It was ten years ago that the Institute of Medicine released To Err is Human, which revealed the fact that as many as 98.000 patients per year die in hospitals as a result of medical errors. Since then, numerous studies have detailed the many ways in which nursing care can promote patient safety. Effective, nurse-led discharge education involving both the patient and family, for instance, can decrease hospital readmissions. Experienced nurses can decrease infections and complications in the ICU. And nurses are often the last line of defense between a patient and an improperly prescribed drug.
Given the public trust of nurses and nurses’ demonstrated success at improving patient care and safety, many experts, including Mary Naylor, RN, PhD and Mark Pauly, PhD of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, argue that nurses must be an important part of any discussion of healthcare reform.