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Five Common Legal Issues in Nursing

As a nurse, there re a number of legal quandaries that you must consider when you work in a healthcare facility. When you are working closely with patients in a medical setting, you have to be very careful to follow protocol – or else you can find yourself in one of these legal pickles. When it comes down to it, you can not only get yourself in trouble, but also the healthcare facility in which you work. This can get you in trouble and you can lose your job. Not only that, but learning what some of these legal issues are will allow you to be a better nurse. Here are five common legal issues in nursing.

  1. Malpractice. This is one of the most common legal issues in the field of nursing. When it comes down to it, a nurse could get sued if a patient stubs their toe. This is the reason why it is critical for nurses to care for patients to the best of their ability. A nurse’s goal is to keep the patient comfortable and they need to make sure that the patient’s recovery is flawless. So, if you want to avoid a malpractice suit, be sure to be constantly aware.
  2. Breach of duty. This is another big legal and ethical quandary in the nursing field. Breach of duty occurs when the patients does not get the most adequate care. Basically, if a nurse doesn’t do what he or she is supposed to do – not only can you get fired, but a patient can take legal action. For instance, if it was a nurse’s duty to take care of a patient in their home and they don’t, they could be sued for a lot of money. If the patient passes away, the suit could be more severe.
  3. Negligence. This is another one of those problems that happens all the time in medical care facilities and retirement homes. Basically, a nurse doesn’t pay enough attention – medical attention – to a patient and the patient either becomes sick or passes away. Negligence can also include not changing sheets or diapers, not bathing the patient or not being warm and comforting. Unfortunately, negligence is common, but if enough people shine a light on the problem, maybe it won’t be such a big problem.
  4. Improper care. When it comes to the nursing field, improper care can be anything from giving a patient the wrong medication to hurting the patient during an immunization. Improper care is not as bad as breach of duty, or malpractice, but it can still put the nurse into some pretty hot water. If you visit and start training to become a nurse, learning how to avoid improper care is important.
  5. Licensing issues. Another big issue in the nursing field has to do with individuals who work at a hospital, but are not fully licensed. When it comes down to it, each and every nurse must have his or her license to practice as a nurse. If a nurse doesn’t have his or her license, it could be a bureaucratic disaster. So, make sure that you have back up copies - just in case.

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