In the know: Tips on how to avoid legal pitfalls

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, June 22, 2009

The legal risks for nurses are high. You are the front-line provider; in court, you will be held accountable under the state Nurse Practice Acts, national standards of nursing practice, and the care that you provided to your patient. You will have to demonstrate adequate competence and compliance with established organization policies. The care you provided will be evaluated by professional and state standards and a nurse expert.

No one ever wants to be placed in a situation of potential liability. To prevent a claim of professional negligence, you must:

  • Follow established standards of care, facility policies, and procedures
  • Document all assessment and outcomes in a complete and timely manner
  • Identify any high-risk areas (i.e., area where errors are commonly committed, such as failure to follow protocol, physician orders, or family complaints that have merit) and be vigilant about avoiding errors
  • Continually review nursing journals and nursing research to stay current with any changes in patient care
  • Keep up to date with any changes in unit or organization policies
  • Be aware of current nursing statures and standards and comply with them

Source: Stressed Out About Your First Year of Nursing, HCPro, Inc. 2006. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

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