Submitted to the Public Forum on Medical Professionals, Torture and the Law, November 15, 2011.
Good afternoon. The Nurses Association is the oldest and largest professional organization for registered nurses in New York State. It represents the interests of more than 270,000 registered nurses and serves as the collective bargaining agent for more than 37,000 RNs at 150 healthcare facilities.
The Nurses Association places high priority on maintaining the integrity of the nursing profession. We strongly condemn the participation of healthcare professionals in prisoner abuse, improper treatment, interrogation or torture. We believe that it is appropriate for New York State to adopt legislation that provides accountability and rules of professional conduct for all professionals licensed by the state.
The Nurses Association has long advocated for policies that promote patient safety and quality of patient care. Nurses, along with other medical professionals, have an ethical and professional obligation to work together to ensure the safety and quality for which we have advocated. While the proposed legislation prohibits all professionals licensed under Title Eight of the Education Law from participating in any kind of improper treatment of prisoners, it also stipulates that healthcare professionals shall provide every prisoner under his or her professional care with care or treatment that is consistent with generally applicable legal, health and professional standards to the extent that he or she is reasonably able to do so under the circumstances. Healthcare professionals would also be required to report any witnessed acts of improper treatment and torture to proper authorities.
In conclusion, the New York State Nurses Association understands the seriousness of the current controversial methods used in some interrogation methods and we applaud the sponsors of this legislation for their thoughtful responses to this high-profile issue. NYSNA believes that prisoner abuse of any kind should not be tolerated and that health professionals’ participation should be strictly prohibited under all circumstances.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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