Legal and Ethical Aspects of Providing Care
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The research conducted by the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) show that several nurses act as defendants in lawsuits that relate to malpractice (Croke, 2003). Croke further argues that the payments made due to nurses’ malpractices rose from 253 to 413 between the period of 1998 and 2001. Unfortunately, the trend is expected to continue as was witnessed in 2005, when a nurse failed to diagnose and treat stroke in time (NSO, 2015).
This incident attracted a penalty of 4 million dollars as a settlement since it led to aphasia, partial arm paralysis, foot drop, and mild cognitive impairment. In this lawsuit, the 52-year-old plaintiff walked into the healthcare facility having suffered from blurred vision in transient episodes and additional right-hand numbness. However, the CT scan examination undertaken by the doctor did not expose any neurological abnormalities. The attending nurse “A” did not also detect any abnormities despite reassessment of the plaintiff.
The most unfortunate part was that another nurse “B” examined the plaintiff and discovered weakness on the right part of the plaintiff’s body, confusion, and slurred speech. The nurse “B” learned that these symptoms did not reflect in the medical report released by the nurse “A” and the doctor. After an hour, the plaintiff underwent a neurological examination and could not take tPA having stayed for over 6 hours in the hospital. The requirement is that a patient should receive tPA within 3 hours of admission to the hospital.
In this lawsuit, the nurse “A” should have avoided the predicament by cross-examining the plaintiff to establish the diagnostic findings that were later compiled by nurse “B”. Also, the nurse should have administered tPA in time to prevent the plaintiff from suffering a stroke after hospitalization. It is necessary for advanced nurse practitioners to have medical liability insurance cover to help in settling such malpractices. According to Coakley (2009), everyone makes mistakes despite intensive training as a nurse practitioner.
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According to CNA Insurance and Nurse Service Organization (2012), nurse practitioners face lawsuit allegations of errors in medication prescription, failure to render appropriate care and treatment, delay in undertaking proper diagnosis and failure to make a diagnosis. As an advanced practice nurse, there are best practice guidelines that can significantly assist in avoiding medical lawsuits in the future practice area. One of such practices, according to Brown (2014), is a good communication between a nurse and a patient. A nurse should ensure that the information is in a written form for future reference.
The second approach is to provide proper and thorough documentation of the information obtained from a patient. As Reising & Allen (2007) put it, the court does not consider anything done unless it is documented. The requirement is because other health care providers do not have access to reliable information that aids in developing a plan to care for a particular patient in a case where there is a lack of documentation. Also, it is possible for nurses to undertake double medical intervention such as medicine administration twice on the same patient. In such a case, there are higher chances of overdosing a patient.
The third approach is to respond swiftly and promptly. Therefore, it ensures that any time the patient complaints of a symptom, he/she receives attention and quick medical intervention to prevent any potential damage. In addition, any failure to intervene at the right time is tantamount to negligence in the lawsuits. As discussed in the first part, advanced practice nurse should purchase liability insurance to settle malpractice claims that cannot be avoided due to human errors in diagnosis and treatment.