Legal Dimensions in Nursing
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What is public law?
Deals with an individuals relationship to the state
Constitutional, Administrative, and Criminal
What is constitutional law?
- set of basic laws that defines and limits the powers of the government
- Nurse maintains rights as an individual
- Constitutional rights, civil rights, state constitution
What is administrative law?
developed by groups who are appointed to governmental administrative agencies
Ex: Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, Social Security Act, Nurse Practice Act
What are some Federal Statutory issues in nursing practice?
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA or more commonly known as the Patient Dumping Act)
- Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA)
- Uniform Anatomical Gift Act
- Living Wills, Durable POA
- Advance Directives
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)
What are some State Statutory issues in Nursing Practice?
- Good Samaritan law
- Public Health Laws (OSHA, CDC)
What is criminal law?
Acts or offenses against the welfare or safety of the public
Controlled Substance Act; Criminal Codes
What is civil law?
- Deals with crimes against a person or person in such legal matter as:
- Protective Reporting Law
What are the sources of legal guidelines?
- *They are state regulated
- Statutory Law: (Nurse Practice Acts)
- -Criminal Law (felonies or midemeanors)
- -Civil Law
- Regulatory Law: (administrative law)
- Common Law: (judicial system)
What are the standards of care and where do they come from?
- They are legal guidelines for defining nursing practice and identifying the minimum acceptable nursing care
- Best known comes from the ANA
- Set by every state
- Set by state and federal laws that govern where nurses work
- The Joint Commission requires policies and procedures (P&P)
What is Tort Law?
- the enforcement of duties and rights
- crime against a person or property (Damages)
- Someone always get paid
ex: nurse whose practice fell below standards
What are unintentional torts?
- Accidental Overdose of Meds
- Emersion Burns
- Omission in Documentation
- Failure to assess abnormal findings and report
What are examples of Tort Laws?
- Negligence & Malpractice
- Assault & Battery
- False Imprisonment
- Restraints or seclusion
- Invasion of Privacy
What is negligence?
- -A breach of duty
- -the failure of an individual to provide care that a reasonable nurse would ordinarily use in a similar circumstance
- -defendant is the person being sued
- -plaintiff is the party who initiates the lawsuit that seeks damages
What is liability?
an obligation one has incurred or might incur thru any act or failure to act
What is Malpractice?
- refers to the behavior of a professional persons wrongful conduct, improper discharge of professional duties, or failure to meet the standards of acceptable care which result in harm to another person
- -a specific type of negligence
How do you prove negligence?
- 1. The Nurse owed a duty to the client
- 2. The nurse did not carry out the duty or breached it
- 3. The client was injured
- 4. The client's injury was caused by the nurse's failure to carry out that duty (hardest to prove)
What are the four D's of negligence?
- Derelection of duty
- Direct Cause
What are some common negligent acts?
- failure to assess and/or monitor; including making a nursing diagnosis
- failure to notify the hcp of problems
- failure to follow orders
- failure to follow the six rights of medication administration
What is the difference between assault and battery?
- assault: the intentional creation of reasonable apprehension of a battery without actually touching (threatening leading to fear)
- Battery: touching of another person without the person's consent
What are the two forms of defamation and what is the key?
- Libel: written
- Slander: verbal
* must effect a person's ability to work/make $
What is a nurse's responsibility for written consent?
- Does the client need more clarification?
- Witness the signature
What is the legal role of a nurse?
Provider of service; ensures that client receives competent, safe, and holistic care
What acts can cause revocation of your RN license?
- 1. Deceptive Practice/Fraud
- 2. Criminal acts
- 3. Previous action by another state board
- 4. Negligence
- 5. Physical/mental impairment such as addiction
What if you make an error requiring an occurrence report?
File the report but DO NOT record it in the patient's record!
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