Criminal Prosecution for Nursing Practice


The issue of criminal prosecution for nurses who fail to observe safety precautions when they are treating patients needs to be examined further. In some instances, nurses are instructed by physicians and pharmacists to offer their patients treatments which are not appropriate for their wellbeing. This paper will discuss pertinent issues related to an incident where three nurses were indicted after a baby who was under their care died due to inappropriate medical procedures.

Emotions Evoked

One of the main emotions evoked by the case study is that of sympathy. The patient was made to suffer consequences due to poor communications and decisions which were made by all health workers who had a duty to safeguard his wellbeing. In addition, emotions of anger and disgust come to mind due to the high levels of incompetence shown by all health professionals discussed in this case. They failed to do their work properly which caused the patient to die (Ottewill, 2003, p. 921).

Court’s Consideration

The court should take into consideration that the caregivers wanted to reduce the pain which the baby was experiencing when they administered the penicillin drug. The two caregivers were encouraged to do so because they felt they needed to prevent the baby from suffering needlessly. They also consulted the nurse practitioner in charge who was authorized to give treatment in the hospital (Gallagher & Lucas, 2005, p. 254). However, their decision to administer the medicine intravenously without taking time to analyze risks associated with this procedure exposed the baby to danger.

Other Risky Occupations

Other occupations which have a high chance of risk due to unintentional errors include: surgery, dentistry, factory tasks, driving and fire fighting. These occupations require professionals to be more cautious to avoid different errors that are likely to expose to harm. In addition, if they neglect their responsibilities, they are likely to be taken through different legal procedures to make them account for their misdeeds. For instance, surgeons are required to observe all safety procedures to enable their patients to recover from different diseases (DeLaune & Ladner, 2010, p. 86).

Response to the Legal Threat

The nursing profession can respond to this threat by encouraging all nursing professionals to familiarize themselves with legal requirements they need to observe in their practice. In addition, nurses need to collaborate with physicians and pharmacists to reduce the number of errors they commit in their workstations. Nurses also need to be more proactive in demanding for better working conditions to enable them to perform their duties better (Mateo & Foreman, 2013, p. 58). Lastly, hospitals should hire competent health professionals who observe high standards of practice in their dealings with patients.

State Nurse Practice Act

The nurses violated section 9 of Colorado Nurse Practice Act which requires them to perform their duties under the supervision of a physician. They also disregarded section 10 (a) of the act, which requires them to care for patients in a safe manner (Mateo & Foreman, 2013, p. 67). Moreover, they failed to observe stipulations as outlined by section 10 (b), which requires nurses to administer treatment to patients through consultations with other senior health professionals. Consequently, this shows that three caregivers were negligent in their duties and the legal action that was taken against them was prudent.


DeLaune, S., & Ladner, P. (2010). Fundamentals of nursing. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Gallagher, T.H., & Lucas, M.H. (2005).Should we disclose harmful medical errors to patients? If so, how? Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management, 12 (5), 253–259.

Mateo, M.A., & Foreman, M.D. (2013). Research for advanced practice nurses, second edition: From evidence to practice. New York, NY: Springer.

Ottewill, M. (2003). The current approach to human error and blame in the NHS. British Journal of Nursing, 12 (15), 919–924.