Gemma Seabourne is a registered nurse from Western Australia. Her Facebook profile lists her position – a clinical nurse – and place of employment, at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital:
On March 19 2015, on the 9 News Perth Facebook page, Seabourne made a series of incorrect and offensive claims surrounding the death, from whooping cough, of baby Riley Hughes. Seabourne’s claims were made only hours after Riley had passed away:
Yes all this is true, but let’s not forget that there are many young children that contract these things from an ‘immunised’ child. This child was only 4 weeks old… too young for their own immunisation… and quite possibly from a non breastfeeding mother (which obviously is a 4 week olds best defence against disease etc) I’m not an anti vaxer, I just believe that there are many more things at play than what the media (and government) have to say. I believe it is unfair to group non vaccinating parents into ‘uneducated’ and ‘ignorant’ groups when there is much independent research that is there for the reading. I don’t believe any human should be forced to inject their child if they don’t believe it is ‘right’. But I believe every human has the responsibility to ‘do the right thing’! As much as this is a contentious issue… It is important to remember that this child was of under ‘vaccinating age’ for an infant… and the circumstances are actually unknown! My message is ultimately this though… RIP Riley, may God rest your soul, and may your parents find some kind of solace in the journey that is unfortunately theirs… and may we ALL, learn something from your loss. Thinking of your family… enormously! x
On December 23 2015, Seabourne commented on the Light for Riley memorial Facebook page, repeating many of her incorrect claims about immunisation:
The public dissemination of anti-vaccination misinformation by Seabourne is not new. On August 27 2014, on her Facebook profile, Seabourne shared the anti-vaccination conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism, in which it is also falsely alleged that the CDC covered up this risk:
Complaints about registered health practitioners can be made to AHPRA.
The addendum contains many commonly breached sections from which readers can choose to include in any complaint.
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Codes and Guidelines.
Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia
1 Nurses practise in a safe and competent manner.
2 Nurses practise in accordance with the standards of the profession and broader health system.
Conduct Statement 2
Nurses practise in accordance with the standards of the profession and broader health system
1 Nurses are responsible for ensuring the standard of their practice conforms to professional standards developed and agreed by the profession, with the object of enhancing the safety of people in their care as well as their partners, family members and other members of the person’s nominated network. This responsibility also applies to the nurses’ colleagues.
2 Nurses practise in accordance with wider standards relating to safety and quality in health care and accountability for a safe health system, such as those relating to health documentation and information management, incident reporting and participation in adverse event analysis and formal open disclosure procedures.
3 Nurses practise and conduct themselves in accordance with laws relevant to the profession and practice of nursing.
Conduct Statement 3
Nurses practise and conduct themselves in accordance with laws relevant to the profession and practice of nursing
1 Nurses are familiar with relevant laws and ensure they do not engage in clinical or other practices prohibited by such laws or delegate to others activities prohibited by those laws.
2 Nurses witnessing the unlawful conduct of colleagues and other co-workers, whether in clinical, management, education or research areas of practice, have both a responsibility and an obligation to report such conduct to an appropriate authority and take other appropriate action as necessary to safeguard people and the public interest.
4 Nurses respect the dignity, culture, ethnicity, values and beliefs of people receiving care and treatment, and of their colleagues.
5 Nurses treat personal information obtained in a professional capacity as private and confidential.
6 Nurses provide impartial, honest and accurate information in relation to nursing care and health care products.
Conduct Statement 6
Nurses provide impartial, honest and accurate information in relation to nursing care and health care products
1 When nurses provide advice about any care or product, they fully explain the advantages and disadvantages of alternative care or products so individuals can make informed choices. Nurses refrain from engaging in exploitation, misinformation or misrepresentation with regard to health care products and nursing care.
2 Nurses accurately represent the nature of their services or the care they intend to provide.
3 Where a specific care or a specific product is advised, nurses ensure their advice is based on adequate knowledge and not on commercial or other forms of gain. Deceptive endorsement of products or services or receipt of remuneration for products or services primarily for personal gain, other than remuneration in the course of a proper commercial relationship, is improper.
7 Nurses support the health, wellbeing and informed decision-making of people requiring or receiving care.
8 Nurses promote and preserve the trust and privilege inherent in the relationship between nurses and people receiving care.
Conduct Statement 8
Nurses promote and preserve the trust and privilege inherent in the relationship between nurses and people receiving care
1 An inherent power imbalance exists within the relationship between people receiving care and nurses that may make the persons in their care vulnerable and open to exploitation. Nurses actively preserve the dignity of people through practised kindness and respect for the vulnerability and powerlessness of people in their care. Significant vulnerability and powerlessness can arise from the experience of illness and the need to engage with the health care system. The power relativities between a person and a nurse can be significant, particularly where the person has limited knowledge; experiences pain and illness; needs assistance with personal care; belongs to a marginalised group; or experiences an unfamiliar loss of self-determination. This vulnerability creates a power differential in the relationship between nurses and persons in their care that must be recognised and managed.
4 Nurses fulfil roles outside the professional role, including those as family members, friends and community members. Nurses are aware that dual relationships may compromise care outcomes and always conduct professional relationships with the primary intent of benefit for the person receiving care. Nurses take care when giving professional advice to people with whom they have a dual relationship (e.g. a family member or friend) and advise them to seek independent advice due to the existence of actual or potential conflicts of interest.
9 Nurses maintain and build on the community’s trust and confidence in the nursing profession.
Conduct Statement 9
Nurses maintain and build on the community’s trust and confidence in the nursing profession
1 The conduct of nurses maintains and builds public trust and confidence in the profession at all times.
2 The unlawful and unethical actions of nurses in their personal lives risk adversely affecting both their own and the profession’s good reputation and standing in the eyes of the public. If the good standing of either individual nurses or the profession were to diminish, this might jeopardise the inherent trust between the nursing profession and the public necessary for effective therapeutic relationships and the effective delivery of nursing care.
3 Nurses consider the ethical interests of the nursing profession and the community when exercising their right to freedom of speech and participating in public, political and academic debate, including publication.
10 Nurses practise nursing reflectively and ethically.
Conduct Statement 10
Nurses practise nursing reflectively and ethically
1 Nurses practise nursing reflectively and ethically, in accordance with the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia, in order to learn from experience and contribute to personal and professional practice.
2 Nurses develop and maintain appropriate and current quality nursing advice, support and care for each person requiring and receiving care and their partners, families and other members of their nominated social network. This responsibility also applies to colleagues of nurses.
3 Nurses evaluate their conduct and competency according to the standards of the nursing profession.
4 Nurses contribute to the professional development of students and colleagues.
5 Nurses participating in research do so in accordance with recognised research guidelines and do not violate their duty of care to persons receiving nursing care.
6 Nurses advise employers and any persons in their care of any reduction in their capacity to practise due to health, social or other factors, while they seek ways of redressing the problem.
Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia
1 Nurses value quality nursing care for all people.
2 Nurses value respect and kindness for self and others.
3 Nurses value the diversity of people.
4 Nurses value access to quality nursing and health care for all people.
5 Nurses value informed decision-making.
Value Statement 5
Nurses value informed decision-making
Nurses value people’s interests in making free and informed decisions. This includes people having the opportunity to verify the meaning and implication of information being given to them when making decisions about their nursing and health care. Nurses also recognise that making decisions is sometimes constrained by circumstances beyond individual control and that there may be circumstances where informed decision making cannot always be fully realised.
6 Nurses value a culture of safety in nursing and health care.
Value Statement 6
Nurses value a culture of safety in nursing and health care
Valuing a culture of safety involves nurses actively engaging in the development of shared knowledge and understanding of the crucial importance of safety in contemporary health care. Nurses who value a culture of safety appreciate that safety is everyone’s responsibility. Nurses support the development of risk management processes and a practice environment designed to reduce the incidence and impact of preventable adverse events in health care. Nurses also support the open disclosure of any adverse events to any person affected during the course of their care.
7 Nurses value ethical management of information.
8 Nurses value a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable environment promoting health and wellbeing.
When using social media, health practitioners should remember that the National Law, their National Board’s code of ethics and professional conduct (the Code of conduct) and the Guidelines for advertising regulated health services (the Advertising guidelines) apply.
Registered health practitioners should only post information that is not in breach of these obligations by:
- complying with professional obligations
- complying with confidentiality and privacy obligations (such as by not discussing patients or posting pictures of procedures, case studies, patients, or sensitive material which may enable patients to be identified without having obtained consent in appropriate situations)
- presenting information in an unbiased, evidence-based context, and
- not making unsubstantiated claims.
Additional information may be available from professional bodies and/or employers, which aims to support health practitioners’ use of social media. However, the legal, ethical, and professional obligations that registered health practitioners must adhere to are set out in the National Boards’ respective Code of conduct and the Advertising guidelines.