Although nurses are supposed to provide patients with high-quality care, they sometimes do not succeed in it. Unfortunately, situations similar to what occurred with the 88-year-old patient are quite common: failure to assess, monitor, and document are reportedly among the most frequent complaints (“Failure to Follow Standards” par. 6). In this context, legal issues are of great significance. It is vital to understand who is to bear the blame and identify negligence as the problem of paramount importance.
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First and foremost, the term “negligence” refers to the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in the same or similar circumstances (Grant and Ballard 30). In other words, it is the improper conduct that is likely to result in negative consequences. One may single out several characteristics:
- Harm was done to a person;
- The negligent individual was responsible for the person harmed (Ellis and Hartley 280);
- The negligent individual did not perform their functions: it is considered to be a breach of duty. Two forms are possible: wrong actions and nonfulfillment of one’s duties;
- Damage caused to a person is the direct result of the breach of duty.
There is another term that pertains to the dereliction: malpractice. It is more specific. In this case, negligence is committed by a person in a professional capacity, for instance, physicians and nurses (Burkhardt and Nathaniel 198). Just as in any sphere, there are certain standards in nursing; if a professional fails to follow them and a breach of duty causes harm, it is malpractice. As for the legal implication, a person found guilty is considered legally liable for the fallout: usually, this person is to pay for damages to a party affected (Ellis and Hartley 283). For example, the costs of treatment may be covered.
In the scenario discussed, all features of negligence, in particular, malpractice, are present. An elderly person was admitted to the unit in the evening shift; on that stage, the appropriate admission assessment was one of the key responsibilities. Regardless of the time, nurses had to fill in the form. If the charge nurse did not complete the admission assessment, the assigned RN should do it; one way or another, the assessment is to be done to bring to light possible risks and understand how the patient should be treated (“Violation” par. 5). However, the first professional could not complete the task on schedule since there were several interruptions and asked the midnight nurse to do it, and they agreed. The next day the patient suffered a right hip fracture: harm was the consequence of the breach of duty. It turned out that the patient had previously had numerous fall accidents, but this risk was not completed. The midnight nurse was in charge and failed to perform their professional duties. The absence of proper actions led to the deterioration of the patient’s condition. As a result, these actions are negligence.
Is the midnight nurse the only person to be responsible?
The nurse was responsible for the patient, but it does not exonerate the first specialist from responsibility. They are also liable in addition to the nurse, but not instead of them (Ellis and Hartley 283).
How negligent specialists should be punished?
The most difficult cases involve criminal sanctions (Mason par. 1). Still, disciplinary punishment and reparation of damages seem more suitable.
What method of resolution is preferable?
Probably problem-solving approach will be the best since all participants need to work towards common goals (Ellis and Hartley 547). It will help respect the interests of all persons involved.
Burkhardt, Margaret A., and Alvita Nathaniel. Ethics and Issues in Contemporary Nursing. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.
Ellis, Janice Rider, and Celia Love Hartley. Nursing in Today’s World: Trends, Issues and Management. New York: Williams & Wilkins, 2012. Print.
“Failure to Follow Standards, Properly Treat Patients Top Nursing Negligence Claims.” Luvera Law Firm, 2014. Web.
Grant, Paula DiMeo, and J. D. Diana Ballard. Fast Facts about Nursing and the Law: Law for Nurses in a Nutshell. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2013. Print.
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Mason, Rowena. “Doctors, Nurses and Managers to Face Five Years in Jail if they Neglect Patients.” The Guardian, 2013. Web.
“Violation: Nursing Care Plan.” The Association of Health Care Journalists, n.d. Web.