The paper "Licenced Practical Nurses" is an amazing example of an essay on nursing. Health care industry bears a huge responsibility on its shoulders for taking care of human lives. This industry cannot function without proper federal and government laws to ensure that patients do not face any issues regarding their safety and confidentiality. There are many legal issues that health care industry faces pertaining to nursing. Nurses bear equal responsibility for the health care of their patients as surgeons or doctors. There are many issues that arise due to the negligence of nurses and may lead them legally responsible for them.
Nurses must distinguish between their personal values and professional values. In health care, nurses face complex situations where they cannot take decisions with their personal bias and preference. They have to abide by some standard practices and for that, the American Nurses Association has created a code of conduct which nurses have to follow. (LearningExpress, LLC, 2009) One of the greatest legal issues that nurses may have is to perform a procedure without the written consent of patients.
When a doctor orders a certain procedure, it is a nurse’ s duty to take legal informed consent from the patient that ensures that the patient is aware of the procedure, its alternatives, its health benefits and risks involved. If the nurse does not take written consent, s/he can be held responsible for any damage and can thus be sued. There are only a few exceptions where informed consent is not necessary. These include a) when the patient’ s life is in danger or s/he waives the right to informed consent b) a patient under medication whose cognitive abilities do not let him comprehend c) mentally or emotionally incompetent patient d) An unconscious patient.
A patient must be mentally and emotionally sound to sign the consent form. It is a nurse’ s responsibility to document everything that is done during or before the treatment (i. e. Vital signs, specimen collection, medication instrument, etc). If the nurse fails to document it properly with the necessary details (patient name, time, date, particular details) of the actions taken, s/he may be held liable for any negative outcomes of the treatment.
(Nursing Legal Issues: How to Protect Yourself) The nurse has the responsibility to keep all the patient's records and personal information confidential and do not share it with anyone apart from the immediate care providers. According to Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) of 1996, patients’ records are secure and are not readily available to those who do not have to carry out treatment, payment or health care operation activities. Patient’ s consent is acquired before giving out patient’ s information to anyone if there is a need.
(Shives, 2008) In many situations, nurses are held accountable for leaking the personal or medical information of patients. It is their utmost duty to guard the confidential details of their patients and prevent it from getting into the hands of a person the patient does not wish to share information with. One of the greatest legal issues faced by nurses is the dosage of medicine. Nurses have to ensure that they give the right drug with the right dose to the right patient through the right route at the right time.
Failure to comply with this rule may lead to a patient’ s death or severe health problem. In this case, again the nurse is held liable for this. Nurses are also held liable if they do not report to any harassment, abuse (emotional, sexual, physical and mental) towards any vulnerable person. It is the nurse’ s responsibility to be aware of any such activity. If s/he has not reported, s/he may be held liable for negligence. It is essential for nurses to develop deep knowledge about their profession and best practices in health care.
In the cases of injury or wounds on the skin, nurses are responsible for bandaging the wounds. A nurse should be very knowledgeable about the skin. Wound assessment of skin is done by nurses and they need to be very confident about assessing the wounds. In case of any negligence by the nurse, s/he will be held liable for any damage caused due to the negligence. (H, 2010) All the nurses should be aware that they are responsible and liable for all of their actions.
Nurses may save the lives of many but because of their negligence, they may lose many lives. This is why the nursing profession is given huge importance in our country. A nurse should be confident about what s/he is doing. S/he should be knowledgeable enough to care for the patients and be vigilant to prevent any harm that may be caused to the patients. Nurses need to follow professional guidance to safeguard their patients. In case of any breach of the standards set my ANA and other associations, the nurses are held responsible.
However, there is a difference between negligence and incompetence of a nurse. If a nurse is found to be negligent over one occasion, it doesn’ t necessarily mean that s/he is incompetent to be a nurse. But if the nurse repeatedly makes errors that harm the patients, s/he is considered incompetent and may be fired from the profession. (Legal Issues for Registered Nurses, 2011) Despite the legal issues faced by the health care industry, the statistics show that the majority of the nurses are competent professionals.
According to HRSA (2003), only 1 out of 50 reports of malpractices in health care is for nurses. This shows that strict regulations and excellent training of nurses can bring excellent health care.