Emergency Nurses Association and American Academy of Emergency Medicine Joint Position on a Code of Professional Conduct

DATE: May, 2006
Nancy Bonalumi, RN, MS, CEN; ENA President
Tom Scaletta, MD FAAEM; AAEM President

It is ideal for emergency nurses and physicians to practice in an optimal working environment where, working as a team, we can provide safe and excellent emergency patient care. Inappropriate behavior disrupts the operations of the emergency department and may affect one's ability to practice competently, create an uncomfortable environment, and adversely impact the community's confidence in the emergency department. Objective criteria can assist in clearly defining what constitutes inappropriate interpersonal interactions. It is our responsibility to take measures to terminate inappropriate actions on the part of a colleague or co-worker. This Code of Professional Conduct is not designed to dictate behavior, but to establish a set of minimum expectations and promote the development of professional ethics. Therefore, the Emergency Nurses Association and American Academy of Emergency Medicine expect their respective members to abide by the following Code of Professional Conduct.

ENA/AAEM Code of Professional Conduct

Inappropriate Conduct:

Professional demeanor requires that nurses and physicians refrain from any type of harassment, respect diversity, and abide by applicable laws, regulations, and rules that are not in direct conflict with delivering excellent patient care.

Workplace harassment creates a hostile environment that interferes significantly with an individual's ability to perform his or her job well or adversely affects workplace conditions. It can be described as any conduct that is unwelcome and offensive to either those who (a) are subjected to it or (b) witness it.

  • Verbal harassment includes screaming, yelling, using foul language, or making threats of harm.
  • Physical harassment constitutes unwelcome physical contact or invading another's personal space.
  • Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome acts or comments of a sexual nature including sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct, including written communications or gestures, of an offensive nature.
  • Retaliation for the reporting of violations of this Code is another form of harassment.

Disrespect for diversity includes disparaging remarks or actions in the workplace in regard to anyone's race, age, gender, disability, national origin, position, religion, or sexual orientation.

Laws and regulations at the local, state, and federal levels are not to be violated. Additionally, policies, procedures, or other rules of the hospital should be closely followed.

Appropriate Conduct:


  • Introduces self to other members of the health care team
  • Communicates plan of care to other providers
  • Recognizes body language and tone of voice
  • Responds to dissatisfied patients/co-workers with professionalism


  • Acknowledging the value of each team member;
  • Respecting another team member's time and responsibilities;
  • Displaying common courtesy toward each other;
  • Discussing issues or disagreements in a private place and in a prompt manner;


  • Being willing to admit a mistake;
  • Remaining open minded and actively listen to others' opinions and perspectives;
  • Taking time to give feedback and, when necessary, constructive criticism;


  • Sharing pertinent information whenever necessary to improve care quality;
  • Responding to any questions regarding treatment choices and relaying changes in a patient's condition in a timely manner;
  • Encouraging one another to speak to a supervisor or to use other appropriate procedures to address and behavior or quality of care concerns
  • Working through proper channels to improve existing policies or processes

Problem Resolution:

If a person has observed or experienced behavior inconsistent with this Code of Professional Conduct, s/he is encouraged to privately discuss the concern with the offender. If the concerned person is uncomfortable with initiating a direct conversation, or if the behavior persists after a direct conversation, then the situation should be promptly reported to an immediate supervisor.

ENA and AAEM believe that any person accused of violating this Code should have the following rights:

  • Presented with a written summary of the claims against him or her
  • Given reasonable notice before a hearing
  • Told the identity of his/her accuser(s)
  • Information relating to accusation and investigation will be kept confidential by ENA and AAEM
  • Receive a fair hearing before any membership action is taken


Published: 5/16/06