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Nursing Legalities Marsha R. Anderson, RNC,CLNC We prepare your most valuable witness… the medical record! © 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC.

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Presentation on theme: "Nursing Legalities Marsha R. Anderson, RNC,CLNC We prepare your most valuable witness… the medical record! © 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nursing Legalities Marsha R. Anderson, RNC,CLNC We prepare your most valuable witness… the medical record! © 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

2 Business and Professions Code CA Nurse Practice Act –Website: www.rn.ca.gov/regulations C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

3 CA Nurse Practice Act Hospital Policies and Procedures NICU Specific Policies and Procedures NICU Standards of Care Professional Organizations Code of Ethics and Standards of Care (ANA and NANN). How To Avoid Malpractice Suits C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

4 ANA Code of Ethics Can be viewed on their website but not downloaded – must purchase. Their website is at www.nursingworld.org NANN Code Of Ethics Can be viewed or downloaded from website at www.nann.org/about/content/ethics.html How To Avoid Malpractice Suits C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

5 Contains the CA State Board of Nursing –9 Members –(4) Public Members –(2) RNs minimum of 5 yrs bedside experience –(1) APN – currently active –(1) RN administrator of nursing education program –(1) RN administrator of nursing services with minimum of 5 yrs experience Serve 4 year terms – maximum of 2 terms Department of Consumer Affairs C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

6 Whenever the protection of the public is inconsistent with other interests sought to be promoted, the protection of the public shall be paramount. 2708.1 Priority of the Board; Protection of the Public C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

7 Boards Primary Goal is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. Therefore, public welfare is placed above the interests of any individual nurse. State Board of Nursing Friend or Foe? C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

8 ANYONE can file a complaint with the state board of nursing including patients, their families, professional peers and nurse managers, physicians. In most states, nurses have an opportunity to respond to the complaint. The response should be brief and objective (always consult an attorney before preparing the response, it can be used against you). State Board of Nursing Friend or Foe? C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

9 Cases are investigated by the Attorney Generals Office. Investigators contact all witnesses for information and take their statements. If investigators feel confident that the state can prove its case, charges are filed. State Board of Nursing Friend or Foe? C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

10 State Board of Nursing Friend or Foe? The Boards power is limited to action against nursing licenses, not to criminal or civil penalties. However, if circumstances warrant, civil or criminal charges could be filed additionally, regardless of the boards action. Board proceedings are less formal and restrictive than a courtroom trial. Evidence that wouldnt be admissible in court might be admitted before the board. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

11 State Board of Nursing Friend or Foe? Conclusion – The State Board of Nursing is NOT in place to protect nurses, it is there to protect the public. NEVER talk to the board of nursing without first consulting an attorney. There are many attorneys that dedicate their law practice to defending nurses against the state board of nursing. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

12 A. It is the intent to recognize the existence of overlapping functions between physicians and RNs and to permit additional sharing of functions. 2725 Legislative Intent; Practice of Nursing Defined C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

13 B. The practice of nursing includes basic health care. It helps people cope with difficulties in daily living that are associated with illness and that require a substantial amount of scientific knowledge or technical skill, including the following: 2725 Legislative Intent; Practice of Nursing Defined C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

14 1.Ensures the safety, comfort, personal hygiene, and protection of patients; and the performance of disease prevention and restorative measures. 2725 Legislative Intent; Practice of Nursing Defined C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

15 2. Includes the administration of medications and therapeutic agents ordered by and within the scope of licensure of a physician, dentist, podiatrist or clinical psychologist. 2725 Legislative Intent; Practice of Nursing Defined C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

16 3. The performance of skin tests, immunization techniques, and the withdrawal of human blood from veins and arteries. 2725 Legislative Intent; Practice of Nursing Defined C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

17 4.Observation of signs and symptoms of illness, reactions to treatment, general behavior, or general physical condition, and determination of whether patient the exhibits abnormal characteristics. (Assess and Evaluate) 5. Based on observed abnormalities, determine to change the plan of care based on standardized policies and procedures or to escalate to the appropriate person, for new orders. (Plan and Implement) 2725 Legislative Intent; Practice of Nursing Defined C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

18 A person licensed under this chapter who in good faith renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency which occurs outside both the place and the course of that persons employment shall not be liable for any civil damages as the result of acts or omissions by that person in rendering the emergency care. This section shall NOT grant immunity from civil damages when the person is grossly negligent. 2727.5 Liability for Emergency Care C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

19 Suspend Judgment Place on Probation Suspend the right to practice nursing for a period not to exceed one year. Revoke the license Take other action as the board may deem proper. 2759 Scope of Discipline C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

20 Unprofessional Conduct a. Incompetence or Gross Negligence. b. Conviction of practicing medicine without a license. c. Denial of licensure, revocation, suspension, or restriction against a health care professionals license by another state. d. Drug-related transgressions 2761 Grounds For Action C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

21 Procuring your certificate or license by fraud. Offering to assist at a criminal abortion. Making any false statement in connection with the application for issuance of a certificate or license. 2761 Grounds For Action C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

22 Conviction of a felony or of any offense substantially related to the qualifications, functions, and duties of an RN. Impersonating any applicant or acting as a proxy for an applicant in any examination required for the issuance of a certificate or license. Impersonating another certified or licensed practitioner. 2761 Grounds For Action C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

23 Holding oneself out to the public or to any practitioner of the healing arts as a nurse practitioner. Except for good cause, the knowing failure to protect patients by failing to follow infection control guideline of the board. 2761 Grounds For Action C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

24 2762 Drug Related Transgressions Obtain or possess in violation of law, or prescribe to him or herself, or furnish or administer to another any controlled substance. Use any controlled substance or any dangerous drug or dangerous device, or alcoholic beverage, to an extent or in a manner dangerous or injurious to him or herself or any other person. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

25 2762 Drug Related Transgressions Be convicted of a criminal offense involving the prescription, consumption, or self- administration of any controlled substances or the falsification of a record pertaining to said controlled substances. Be committed or confined by a court for intemperate use of or addiction to the use of any of the substances described in this section. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

26 2762 Drug Related Transgressions Falsify or make grossly incorrect, or inconsistent entries in any hospital or patient record. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

27 Standard of Care Components State Nurse Practice Act Federal Organization Guidelines (JCAHO, Medicare and Medicaid) Facility Policy and Procedures Unit Policy and Procedures Unit Standards of Care Professional Nurse Associations (ANA, NANN) Authoritative Texts, Articles, Studies etc Expert Testimony C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

28 JCAHOs Definitions Negligence is the failure to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person would use under similar circumstances. Malpractice is the improper or unethical conduct or unreasonable lack of skill by a holder of a professional or official position. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

29 Nursing Malpractice Lawsuits increasing yearly with no sign of stopping Contributing Factors –Delegation (more on floors than ICUs) –More Knowledgeable Patients –Higher Patient Expectations –Hospitals more reliant on RNs (less costly than other disciplines) –Increased Autonomy and Responsibility –Expanded Legal Definitions of Liability hold all Professions to a higher standard of accountibilty –Technological Advances –Early Discharge C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

30 Best Protection From Being Named A Defendant In A Medical Malpractice Suit PROTECT YOUR PATIENT!!!!!!! Administer the best possible nursing care according to the highest professional standards. Follow standards of care from your specialty area, state and federal regulations, standards of JCAHO, ANA and NANN standards, hospital P&Ps, and the CA Nurse Practice Act. Become familiar with malpractice law. Make a favorable first impression (build a caring, attentive, trusting relationship with pt) C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

31 Best Protection From Being Named A Defendant In A Medical Malpractice Suit Establish a baseline prior to administering care –Review medical records, noting significant information –Read care plan, discuss with patient, and revise as needed Dont accept responsibilities for which you are not prepared. Evaluate your assignment – are you competent? Carry out orders cautiously-dont blindly follow C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

32 Best Protection From Being Named A Defendant In A Medical Malpractice Suit Administer Drugs Carefully Maintain rapport with patient Document care accurately and thoroughly Dont assist with procedures without informed consent Dont use equipment that is unfamiliar or seems to be functioning improperly Stay current –Ignorance is no excuse for substandard care, esp. if you are certified in a specialty area. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

33 Best Protection From Being Named A Defendant In A Medical Malpractice Suit Never perform a procedure you feel uncertain about or is outside the scope of your practice. Patient teaching has become a JCAHO focus including discharge teaching. Document what was taught, method of teaching utilized, as well as the names of any witnesses to the teaching. Think before you speak: –Avoid offering opinions about what might be wrong with a pt (making a medical diagnosis) C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

34 Best Protection From Being Named A Defendant In A Medical Malpractice Suit Think before you speak: (continued) –Avoid offering opinions on the choice of a physician –Avoid offering opinions on possible treatments –Avoid criticizing other caregivers or care that was provided –Avoid statements that can be perceived as admission of fault or error C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

35 Best Protection From Being Named A Defendant In A Medical Malpractice Suit Think before you speak: (continued) –Never discuss a patients confidential information with anyone not involved with the care of that patient. –Never discuss patients in public areas, even if their name is not mentioned. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

36 Analyzing The Malpractice Concept Reviewing both nursing and legal literature suggests there are two antecedents that occur either alone or in concert, before all occurrences of malpractice. 1. Lack of adequate education and training. 2. Lack of thoroughness and attention to detail on behalf of the nurse. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

37 Four Elements of a Lawsuit Before a malpractice suit can be filed, the plaintiff must prove that all four of the following elements are present. –Duty –Breech of Duty –Damages –Causation C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

38 Common Areas of Malpractice Allegations in Neonatal Nursing Resuscitation –Case Study #1 Respiratory Distress –Case Study #2 IV Therapy –Case Study #3 Medication Errors Hypoglycemia Documentation –Case Study #4 Discharge Teaching (more recently) C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

39 Where Nurses Went Wrong Failure to accurately assess and monitor the patients condition –Case Study #6 Failure to notify the health care provider of problems –Case Study #7 Failure to follow orders –Case Study #8 Contributing to medication errors –Case Study #9 C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

40 Where Nurses Went Wrong Failure to convey discharge instructions –Case Study #10 Failure to ensure patient safety –Case Study #11 Failure to follow policies and procedures –Case Study #12 Failure to properly delegate and supervise –Case Study #13 C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

41 Did you know that hospital P&P Are mostly mandated by state or jurisdictional licensing laws or by such federal regulations that are conditions for participation in Medicare or Medicaid? –Too specific –Too restrictive –Too idealistic –Irrelevant –Too voluminous –Not updated or reviewed –Changes not communicated to staff C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

42 Civil and Criminal Charges –CIVIL action is brought forth by the patient or their representative for the purpose of obtaining monetary compensation for injury or harm resulting from a negligent act or failure to act. –CRIMINAL lawsuits are crimes against a victim brought forth by the government for the purpose of punishment for the person committing the wrong and to act as a deterrent for additional wrongdoing. (Must be a gross deviation from the standard of care and the nurse must fail to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk) Case Study #5. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

43 Civil and Criminal Charges –Most common reason why plaintiffs seek attorneys: To get answers System change to prevent future injury to other patients Healthcare personal learn from the experience Apology Closure C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

44 Reducing Nursing Liability Establish a caring relationship with the family Know your legal and ethical responsibilities Define appropriate assignments Take action when an infants condition warrants Defensively document all patient care Maintain clinical competence Stay within your legal Scope of Practice C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

45 Nursing Documentation in Legal Proceedings Nursing Documentation composes the majority of the medical record. Nursing notes become the most important evidence to reflect how care was rendered as well as the outcomes of that care. Omissions, inaccuracies, or missing documentation immediately places the record, as well as the health care providers, under suspicion. Jurors and attorneys view the medical record as the best evidence of what really happened to a patient. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

46 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Know the governing laws in the state of practice, the policies and procedures and the standards of care of the institution as well as the unit of practice and the guidelines from applicable specialty organizations (ANA and NANN). Know that when state law and institutional policy are in conflict, state law trumps the institution. Specialty guidelines for practice arent legally binding, but they do create a standard of care for a patient in a particular setting. The gold standard thats used for determining what a nurses action shouldve been is: What would a reasonable and prudent nurse have done in the same or similar situation? C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

47 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Keep Your Audience In Mind –The Healthcare Team (create an illustrated timeline for the care of the patient). –The Scribe (serves as a memory refresher for the RN, years later). –Lawyers and Experts (looking for what went wrong, what could have been better, and was the standard of care met). –Judge and Jury (make a complex and confusing issue understandable for lay persons) C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

48 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process –Never document an acute abnormality found during an assessment without documenting the intervention initiated. –Never document the intervention initiated without documenting the patient response to said intervention. –Never document a body system abnormality without elaboration. –Always document the patients baseline mental status, if known. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

49 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process (continued) –Dont confuse visual, audible, and tactile assessment. (pt has a normal breathing pattern as evidenced by sight, the nurse shouldnt document that bilateral breath sounds were CTA unless a stethoscope was used to reveal evidence by hearing. –Reconcile mismatched objective and subjective assessment findings. (pt states his pain is a 10 but you find him sitting up, playing cards with a friend). C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

50 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process (continued) –Dont become complacent with check-off assessments. (There is no single way to undermine credibility in court more powerfully than documenting that a pt with a R below-the-knee amputation has bilateral pedal pulses that are strong and equal). –Always assess the patient at the time of discharge or transfer. –Never use medical terminology unless the meaning of the word is known. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

51 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process (continued) –When in doubt, spell it out (only use the hospital approved abbreviations). –Use quantifiable data with descriptions (reference common objects such as a quarter). –Ensure that late entries follow your facilitys policy. –When relying on information from another source be sure to note that in some way. You do not want information obtained from another source attributed to you, particularly if it is inaccurate. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

52 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process (continued) –Chart objectively (Document facts only – what you see, hear, smell, and touch, otherwise it can be misconstrued as making a medical diagnosis, which is practicing medicine without a license. –Never chart humor, sarcasm, bias, racial and ethnic slurs, or profanity. (It is very humbling to have your notes blown up and displayed on a screen in a courtroom for all to see). –Never assign blame or pass judgment (this RN has called the physician six time with no response, is not an appropriate note). C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

53 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process (continued) –Make corrections per institutional policy. –Discourage telephone and verbal orders (RB and V if it is in an emergency situation) –Never chart in advance. –Medications – Document effectiveness of medication and action taken if med not effective. Always document why meds were held, otherwise it appears to be a med error to the legal community. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

54 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process (continued) –Document discharge teaching thoroughly. – Indicate that instructions were reviewed, understood and could be repeated and that the patient was offered the opportunity to ask questions. –Indicate the presence of any witnesses (by name) who overheard the discharge instructions. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

55 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process (continued) –Always assess, chart observations, recognize complications and immediately escalate changes in patient status to the physician. –Avoid words such as accidentally, mistakenly, and inadvertently. –Avoid charting MD aware, reported to oncoming shift, MD paged. Chart specifically who you made aware and the content of your conversation as well as the time it took place. If you receive NO response or a BAD response, chart the time and the name of the person on up the chain of command that you reported to, their response etc – all the way to the top if necessary. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

56 Legalities of Nursing Documentation Follow The Nursing Process (continued) –Always fill out an incident report (utilize the 5 Ws). This report is not part of the permanent medical record, but is sometimes discoverable. –Never refer to the incident report in the medical record. Only chart the facts of what occurred, treatment provided and the outcome. –COMPLETE AND ACCURATE IS THE KEY! C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

57 Hospital Chain of Command NNP MD (If MD issue Dr. Gail Knight, then Dr. Buzz Kaufman) Charge Nurse Administration (Nanci, Beth, Stefanie or Fran; always someone on call) House Supervisor (more on night shift) Director (Barb Lowe Holt) Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive (Mary Fagen) Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (Meg Norton) C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

58 Professional Liability Insurance Have you ever read or even seen a copy of your employers malpractice insurance policy? Most hospitals insurance policies are there to protect the hospital from liability NOT their employees. Most employer policies cover the employee for civil nursing negligence and medical malpractice; but only when they are working for said employer and only if there is no conflict between the RN and the hospital. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

59 Professional Liability Insurance RNs typically have NO protection under their employers policy for: –Licensure coverage with the State Board of Nursing –Criminal Suits (plaintiff must prove criminal intent) –Failure of RN to follow hospital P&Ps –Emergency situations outside the hospital (plaintiff must prove gross negligence) C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

60 Professional Liability Insurance RNs typically have no protection under their employers policy for: (continued) –Conflict of Interest with the hospital –Moonlighting (fatigue) –Past employee of hospital, lawsuit now pending –Employer sues the employee that they feel was responsible for the incident in the lawsuit –After hours situation (neighbors, friends, etc) C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

61 Professional Liability Insurance Liability Insurance Providers –Multiple Providers –Multiple Type Policies and Coverage –Many less than $100/yr for $1,000,000 per incident and $6,000,000 aggregate. –ANA website www.nursingworld.org –NSO website www.nso.com Statue of Limitations –Adults: 2-3 years after discovery of damages –Children: Differs between states but can be up to the age of 21 in some states. C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

62 CONCLUSION Case Study #14 The medical record provides legal proof of the nature and quality of care the patient received. The weight it carries in legal proceedings CAN NOT be over emphasized! C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC

63 Nursing Legalities We prepare your most valuable witness… the medical record! C 2011 OUR LEGAL NURSE CONSULTANTS, LLC


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