Malpracticein nursing occurs when there is negligence on the part of a nursethat results in harm or injury to a patient. This can be throughactions such as administering the wrong medication or failing toinform a physician in the event something unusual has occurred to apatient. The law in its prudence recognizes that the human element issometimes responsible for injuries to patients which can be preventedif due diligence is exercised by health professionals even as theydischarge their duties. For this reason, there are provisions inplace enacted by Nursing Associations to check on medicalmalpractice.
Thenurse shall be responsible for promoting, advocating and shall alwaysstrive to ensure that the health, rights and safety of the patientare protected at all times (Brooke, 2008). This provision isinterpreted to mean that the primary responsibility of a nursingprofessional is to guarantee the safety, rights and health of thepatient. Protection is at the heart of the nursing practice. Amongthe things that a nurse is required to protect is information. Confidentiality is crucial in the dissemination of the nursing duties(Burroughs et al., 2007). The nurse can protect this patientinalienable right by treating every patient`s information withconfidence. This provision also binds the nurse to the safety of thepatient. All patient outcomes are the result of the extent to whichnurses live up to their job description by adhering to all safetystandards. Overall, this policy addresses the issue of patientsafety.
Assessmentand monitoring plays a significant role in guaranteeing the securityof patients. The above-stated provision is intended to solvemalpractices such as failure to monitor and assess the welfare ofpatients. Nurses are trained to be critical thinkers and in mostcases, rely on judgment to effectively discharge their duties. Errorin judgment is intolerable in this profession because the effect ofsuch an action could be the death of a patient (Tan, 2010).
Forinstance, take the case of a nurse on duty who was assigned to takecare of a certain patient with strict instructions to perform vitalchecks on the patient at an interval of 3 hours. Shortly after thenurse takes on the shift, the patient starts complaining of a severeheadache. The nurse decides to administer ibuprofen and continuecarrying on with the duty of attending to the rest of the patients inthe care room. The nurse then returns 4 hours later to find thevictim unresponsive. It is determined medically that the patientexperienced a seizure.
Inthis scenario, the nurse is guilty of malpractice. They failed toassess and monitor the patient even when they had been directed to doso at a predetermined time interval. The nurse also failed to promoteand advocate for the safety of the patient when they discovered thepatient was having a severe headache and administered ibuprofenwithout first assessing the condition. The patient`s right to beprotected has been violated in this scenario, and the family of thedeceased victim may sue the nurse for failure to monitor and assessthe welfare of their patient. The provision discussed above can beused to support the argument that there was negligence on the part ofthe nurse.
HowAddressed by ACA
TheACA subscribes to high ethical standards and for this reason, it hasenacted legislations to guide the behavior of its members. To addressthe malpractice of failure to monitor and assess the welfare ofpatients, ACA has a legislation on patient abandonment and neglectwhich stipulates that a health care professional on duty shall notabandon or neglect clients. Further, the legislation states that inthe event there is a necessary interruption such as termination, theprofessional shall ensure that the clients continue receiving theirtreatment by making appropriate arrangements. Again on clientwelfare, there is a legislation stipulating that the primaryresponsibility of a health professional shall be to respect thedignity and also promote patient welfare.
Prosand Cons of the Legislation
Thebill ensures that nurses work to prevent harm from happening to thepatients under their care by promoting safety around their patients.For nurses to ensure that harm does not come the way of theirpatients, they must carefully exercise the dependent function theirpractice. At the same time, the independent service should always beat the center of decision-making. Promoting the health and safety asstipulated in the legislation means that nurses work cooperativelywith other healthcare professionals towards the end of patientsafety.
Throughthis provision, nurses are ethically obligated to put the rights ofpatients ahead of their own (Brooke, 2008). The rights of patientsremain central in their duty function, but there are circumstanceswhen nurses put their rights ahead of those of the patients. Thislegislation is silent on the rights of the nurse, and this reinforcesthe fact that those of the patient should always come first. In thecase above, the reason for the nurse not attending to the patient asdirected could have been that they got a personal engagement. Thiscan happen, but still the nurse ought to have requested theassistance of a colleague to cover for the period they will be absentfor monitoring and assessment. This is what putting the rights andsafety of the patient ahead of the nurse means.
Patienthealth is also addressed in the provision. The health of the patientcan only be guaranteed if nurses work according to the laid downprinciples and standards. Nurses should not engage in dutiesunrelated to their practice even if it is at the request of a fellowmedical practitioner (Castaneda & Scanlan, 2014). In thislegislation, the loyalty of the nurse is to the patient and notfellow staff or physician.
Thelaw has placed a lot of emphasis on the rights, health and safety ofpatients. Sometimes there are matters in the lives of nurses thatrequire their immediate attention even when they have to attend tothe needs of the patients. Nurses also have rights and sometimestheir safety may be in jeopardy especially if demented patientsbecome violent (Tan, 2010). In such a case, the security of the nursewill come before that of the patient. The legislation is limitedbecause it lacks exceptions. This can create a conflict because oneparty is left out in a clause that is supposed to be mutuallyinclusive.
Thelaw fails to recognize that nurses have several ethical obligationsthat range from those of the employer, the professional bodies tothose of the patients. These competing requirements sometimes maymake a nurse unavailable for continuous monitoring and assessment ofpatients under their care (Buppert, 2008). When nurses are found in aspot, they will always think of the person or institution that theyowe the primary ethical obligation. For this reason, the right of thepatient may sometimes rank low in the priority order.
Malpracticein the nursing profession may occur for reasons other thannegligence. I feel that sometimes the legislations are hard onnurses. For instance, in a situation where a nurse has several othercompeting obligations and in the short span of time they have toreach a decision makes a judgment that harms the patient in one wayor another, due consideration should be given (Croke, 2003). Thesituation should be assessed to determine if there is a malpracticeor the nurse was just fulfilling a mandatory personal duty at thetime it came knocking.
Myopinion is that future ethical codes governing the nursing practiceshould incorporate the rights of nurses because I believe they toohave rights. For nurses to work well, they should be made to feelvalued (Goolbsy, 2011). Their dependent, as well as independentfunctions must be allowed to co-exist. Also, nurses may act on theinstruction of physicians and by so doing commit an error that harmsthe patient. In such a case, the law should be clear on who shouldtake the blame.
Inconclusion, malpractice occurs when an action or negligence by thenurse results into the harm of a patient. The health care system iscomprised of people who are prone to errors. While some mistakes maybe unintentional, all errors affect the safety of patients in anegative way. Errors will also occur when a given action follows theacceptable standards but still fail to yield the anticipated results.Provisions are set by nursing professional bodies to ensure thatnurses maintain a high ethical standard in the course of theirpractice. While these legislations have not eliminated malpracticeultimately in the profession, they have helped reduce the vicesignificantly. However, future laws will benefit from the recognitionof the rights held by nurses.
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