Guarding Against Malpractice Reminder

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 3
Words: 849
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

Standards of Care

Standards of care in Florida are defined in the following way. “Level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers” (Medical Malpractice and Related Matters, 2020, para. 1).

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Scope of Practice

The scope of nursing practice within Florida is divided into practical nursing and professional nursing. Scope of practice of practical nursing includes only selected acts. These acts are “administration of treatments and medications; the promotion of wellness, maintenance of health, and prevention of illness of others” (Nurse Practice Act, 2020a, para. 18) under the supervision of a specialist. Also, a practicing nurse can “teach the general principles of health and wellness to the public and to students other than nursing students” (Nurse Practice Act, 2020a, para. 18)

Meanwhile, a professional nurse can perform actions that require specialized knowledge, skills, and judgment based on the principles of physical, social, biological, and psychological sciences. These actions include “the observation, assessment, nursing diagnosis, planning, intervention, and evaluation of care” (Nurse Practice Act, 2020a, para. 19). In contradistinction to a practical nurse, the professional nurse does not need the supervision of a specialist to promote wellness, maintain health, and prevent illnesses. The professional nurse can also counsel and teach the ill and injured.

Moreover, the professional nurse can administrate drugs that are prescribed by licensed professionals. Finally, such a professional is allowed to teach and supervise other medical staff. Both practical and professional nurses are “responsible and accountable for making decisions that are based upon the individual’s educational preparation and experience in nursing” (Nurse Practice Act, 2020a, para. 19).

Nursing Malpractice

There are four essential elements to a nursing malpractice case, as it is in other medical malpractice scenarios. They must all be present and proven for a plaintiff to win the case. These four elements are a professional duty owed to the patient, breach of this duty, an injury caused by the breach, and damage resulting from the injury (Bal, 2009). Whenever the relationship between a patient and a nurse is created, the duty arises, and it is expected that the nurse will act within standards of care. A failure to act within said standards and deliver reasonable care and treatment for the patient is identified as a breach of duty. To prove the causation between the resulting injury and the breach of the duty plaintiff is to demonstrate a clear and direct relationship between the two (Bal, 2009). Finally, the damage from the nurse’s actions is calculated; if no damage to the patient occurred despite the malpractice, a court would not award the plaintiff anything.

Nurses must act within Nurse Practice Act to avoid legal issues. This includes acting within the respective scope of practice; for instance, a practical nurse should never act within those professional nurse’s responsibilities that are outside of the practical nurse’s sphere. Nurses should be licensed to work within their scope of practice and should comply with all the respective rules to obtain, maintain and renew their license. Advanced practice registered nurses should report all adverse incidents they witness. Registered nurses may not delegate any tasks that do not match the criteria provided by the Nurse Practice Act to certified nursing assistants. Sexual misconduct within the nurse-patient relationship is a violation of said relationships and should be avoided.

Nurses should not be “convicted or found guilty of, or entering a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to” (Nurse Practice Act, 2020b, para. 1) any crimes related to the practice of nursing. The same rules apply to offenses such as robbery, theft, fraudulent practices, lewdness, assault, battery, child abuse, exploitation, neglect, and domestic violence. Moreover, nurses should never avoid filing mandatory reports, and should never make false reports or induce other people to do so. False advertising by a nurse in any form is a ground “for denial of a license or a disciplinary action” (Nurse Practice Act, 2020b, para. 1). Nurses should never practice when unable to perform their duties with reasonable skill due to illness, alcohol, drugs, or physical condition. A failure to report cases of misconduct is also a ground for denial of a nursing license.

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Decision Making Framework

  1. A nurse that does not hold a relevant and active license should not practice nursing.
  2. Any action that violates the Nurse Practice Act should not be taken.
  3. Any action that violates the nurse-patient relationship should not be taken.
  4. Any action that cannot be performed with reasonable skill and safety for the patient should not be taken.
  5. Any action that goes beyond a nurse’s current scope of practice should not be taken.
  6. Any action that goes beyond a nurse’s training and educational background should not be taken.
  7. Any action that lacks resources to be performed well should not be taken.
  8. Any action that may not be considered acceptable and appropriate by other reasonably prudent nurses should not be taken.
  9. Any action of misconduct by other healthcare professionals should immediately be reported.

References

Bal, B. S. (2009). An introduction to medical malpractice in the United States. Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research, 467(2), 339–347. Web.

Medical Malpractice and Related Matters, Flo. Stat. No. 766.102 (2020). Web.

Nurse Practice Act, Flo. Stat. No. 464.003 (2020a). Web.

Nurse Practice Act, Flo. Stat. No. 464.018 (2020b). Web.