Nursing Role And Scope
The legal system and nursing intertwine in different ways. Legal laws and regulations allow nurses and other healthcare professionals to practice safely and enhance patient care (Masters, 2020). Patients and consumers in general have come to understand and are more knowledgeable about their rights. Healthcare workers that abide but rules set by the law and work with patients’ rights clearly defined are less likely to be involved in infractions.
The federal laws although alike in all states are implemented differently according to the state (Masters, 2020). However, nurses are expected to have knowledge or regulations and laws in the state they practice in. A lawsuit brought against a person in the healthcare field will fall under civil law and it can be either a tort or contract law (Masters, 2020).
Nurses and all licensed professionals work under a scope that dictates what can be done under your license according to standards set forth (Masters, 2020). In certain cases, such as those for malpractice or negligence, nursing scope of practice may be questioned by the legal system. Evidence of standard of care is used in court in order to assess if what was done was correct or if something should have been done instead. Types of evidence include expert testimony, facility documents, agency regulations and statutes among others (Masters, 2020).
Nurses and other healthcare professionals are constantly exposed to legal problems. However, avoiding these issues can be very simple if nurses follow rules, standards and adhere to policies as expected. Nurses are responsible for administering medication, performing procedures and handling personal information all of which can incur in a violation of some sort at some point if done incorrectly.
Nurses can avoid legal problems by always ensuring that at the time informed consent is obtained there aren’t any pending questions to be answered. Physician or personnel in charge of performing the procedure should explain thoroughly what will happen and what is to be expected afterward. Nurses, however, need to assess that patient’s do not have any doubts or concerns at the time of signing consent. If so, these concerns need to be brought forward to the appropriate personnel prior to any procedure. Ensuring a full informed consent is a way to avoid future problems.
Maintaining privacy and confidentiality always is also vital. Nurses handle information that if misplaced can expose patient’s unnecessarily and thus cause a breach in confidentiality. Such information can include drug use, sexual activity and history of mental illness (Masters, 2020). Conversations regarding patient care and condition must be private and involve only those in direct care. A violation of patient’s privacy can result in fines and employment termination
Malpractice refers to an action or lack thereof by a physician or licensed person that differs from the standard of care stated and results in damage or injury to the patient (Bal, 2009). For this malpractice to be acknowledged there must be four elements. These elements include duty to treat the person, a violation of this duty, a direct cause of injury from the actions performed and damages from the malpractice (Bal, 2009).
Negligence refers to a care that is provided and it is well below the standard (Sohn, 2013). A patient developing an allergic reaction from a medication given that is not stated. This is an adverse effect however; the nurse failing to check the chart and notify the prescribing physician of a stated allergy and administering the medication clearly constitutes negligence.
Mistakes occur in the nursing profession as in any other. Unintentional errors are often made such as mistaking doses and misinterpreting written orders due to poor handwriting. Changes have been made along the way to prevent human errors from affecting patients directly such as instituting computer written order and using identification bracelets to differentiate patients with similar names among others.
Bal B. S. (2009). An introduction to medical malpractice in the United States. Clinical orthopaedics and related research, 467(2), 339–347. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11999-008-0636-2
Masters, K. (2020). Role development in professional nursing practice (5th ed.) Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning
Sohn D. H. (2013). Negligence, genuine error, and litigation. International journal of general medicine, 6, 49–56. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S24256