From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 12, 2010

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing staff development expert Adrianne Avillion. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of staff development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Q: Can I be personally held liable if someone is injured during one of my classes (e.g., skills lab demonstration)?

A: You are held to your standards of practice and to what another reasonably prudent staff development specialist would do under the same or similar circumstances. There are no foolproof ways to avoid lawsuits—especially those that may be frivolous and/or without basis—but there are things you can do to take care. For example, make sure that all equipment to be used during a class is in good working order, such as audiovisual equipment or procedural equipment for a skills lab. Maintain a safe environment by immediately cleaning up spills, and other environmental concerns.

Before any return demonstrations are performed during skills labs, make sure learners have received adequate instruction and are prepared to participate. For example, do not have someone demonstrate patient transfer until the person has been adequately trained. Some organizations have gone so far as to require employees to sign releases before participating in psychomotor skill demonstrations. These releases state they have been trained, have no health condition that prevents their participation, etc.

These are a few general suggestions. You should consult with your organization's legal department for specific guidelines and legal advice.

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