Nursing Role And Scope
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Registered nurses are legally and professionally accountable for their actions irrespective of whether the initiative comes from them or other persons. There has been an increase in healthcare litigation as patients continue to assert their rights with compensations also rising. As such nurses are expected to conduct themselves within the legislation, legal policies and statues relevant to their profession (Bhardwaj, 2017). This makes having a legal system for nurses necessary as they need to not only protect themselves from possible lawsuits but also effectively defend themselves in potential legislative processes.
Nurses are expected to do their best to perform their work in a concerned, dedicated and professional way to ensure accuracy and accomplishment of treatment. However, despite the application of strict and standard quality of care, there are instances when variations occur with litigation being applied (Bhardwaj, 2017). The variations may require the nurse to provide details of care with regard to her professional and legal responsibility.
The legal system for nurses is there to help avoid these instances by educating nurses on current laws, statutes and standards that apply to their daily work environment. It instills confidence in nurses that despite all the challenges in the profession, they are legally safe should they observe basic legal procedures such as administration of informed consent.
With the increase in litigations against healthcare organizations, there is need for a nurse to adopt strategies to avoid legal problems. The first and most important strategy is proper documentation. Precise and thorough documentation that is tailored to patients ensure safety in a litigation process (Catalano & Werdman, 2017). Proper documentation includes clarity and proper establishment of roles.
Secondly, in documenting, the nurse should properly indicate time, date with an accompanying signature. Timing is of importance in legal proceedings including the collection of evidence (Catalano & Werdman, 2017). Findings of what happened should be followed by when if a nurse is to avoid challenges in the legal system. The third strategy for a nurse to avoid legal challenges is understanding the policies and practices of their facility. Proper orientation into the practices and policies of an organization helps avoid mistakes related with litigation.
Fourthly, the nurse should never let understanding cause carelessness in dealing with patients. Most nursing mistakes comes in organization due to understaffing as nurses try to cover for shortages (Leahy, 2017). It is therefore necessary for nurses to avoid doing things in a rush which often result in mistakes and litigation. Finally, nurses should develop good relationships with their patients. By creating a rapport with patients, nurses will most often avoid mistakes and also solve challenges between them at a personal level.
There are four elements of negligence and malpractice that a nurse could find themselves in a litigation. First, there is duty owed to patient. A patient is owed a safe environment with the nurse having a duty to follow physician’s directions for the patient.
The second element is breach of duty where the duty owed to the patient is breached or has not been met (Grant, 2017). A good example in the case of providing safe environment is if a nurse forgets to place a bed rail and results in the patient falling. This is a breach of duty as the nurse failed to maintain a safe environment for the patient.
The third element is damages where the breach may have caused injuries and resultant damages. In our case, the injuries that the patient suffered from falling from the bed are the damages. Finally, there is causation or direct cause and effect link between the breach of duty and damages (Masters, 2018). In our case, the failure to put a rail on bed must be related to the injury on the patient.