In most states eclampsia is one of the major perinatal problems that is epidemic to a large number of women and generates nurse liability issues especially to nurses providing home health care services (Rostant, & Cady, 1999). This medical condition results to increased number of prenatal and postnatal maternal mortalities. Most women who develop eclampsia blame medical practitioners for poor monitoring of their health condition during and after pregnancy. In most clinics the most common eclampsia medical condition is pre-eclampsia which develops during pregnancy. By definition this medical condition refers to a form of hypertension that develops during and after pregnancy (Guido, 2010). Most home health nurses are mostly faced with pre-eclampsia unlike post eclampsia and this makes them less attentive in monitoring for postpartum eclampsia. Postpartum eclampsia presents similar medial symptoms like pre-eclampsia but occurs some days after delivery (Rostant & Cady, 1999). Since there are no reliable symptoms or tests that can be used to predict the development of the medical condition, most patients expect that the nurses providing home health care should been keen in identifying the medical condition. As a result of the responsibilities nurses are accorded when handling this medical condition it increases nurse liability issues.
Home health services are services provided by skilled nurses at home basis (Rostant & Cady, 1999). Mostly prenatal and postnatal home health services are provided by skilled nurses who work under a particular healthcare center. As a result most of the liability issues that arise from home health care have a direct legal implication to the nurse providing the services and the healthcare center sponsoring the provision of the services (Guido, 2010). Nurses offering home health care are required to ensure they provide and obtain all necessary medical information concerning the patient before starting providing their services. Some of the nurse liability issues that home health are faced with concerns proper documentation and ensuring all information is availed when the client visits healthcare centers (Judson & Harrison, 2010). In addition, nurses in home health settings are also faced with liability issues on prevention and predication strategies.
For many years, nurses have been considered by other practitioners and the courts as people who play an important role in the medical profession. As a result, it is part of nursing professionalism especially those providing home healthcare to ensure that nurses adhere to the simple medical guidelines. Some of these medical guidelines that may increase nurse liabilities include documentation of patient’s information and ensuring they perform any patient’s task that needs physician’s attention (Judson & Harrison, 2010). It is also considered nursing liability to ensure that they provide any needed patient information to other practitioners (Rostant & Cady, 1999).
The typical eclampsia postpartum case discussed below shows some of the nursing liabilities which if neglected can result to a development of a legal case. The postpartum case discussed is between Joan’s family members against Klunder the nurse who is believed to have gone against nursing professionalism when providing home healthcare services. Joan was moved from ICU to home care center a day after delivery. The nurse in charge who had also provided Joan with prenatal care did not bother to ask for the ICU patient information when resuming to offer home health care services. In addition, the nurse did not bother to compare the patient’s post delivery information with the prenatal information until the patient went into coma and was diagnosed with postpartum eclampsia (Rostant & Cady, 1999). According to the family the ICU report had indicated that Joan needed close monitoring until her blood pressure returned to normal levels. For the several hours that Joan was in the care of Klunder, the nurse did not bother to follow the medical recommendation. The family claimed that the nurse did not carry Joan’s ICU medical report when she was being transferred to healthcare center. As a result by the time the practitioners realized that Joan had postpartum Eclampsia her medical situation could not have been regulated. The family members thus blamed the home health nurse for the death of the patient.
This case provides adequate information concerning nurses’ liability and how issues due to nurse legal responsibility can be dealt with in a legal case. This case not only shows Klunder’s liabilities but also liabilities of the healthcare center under which Klunder operates under. The home health nurse documented the admission information separate from the medical information from the prenatal and ICU medical information of the patient. It was after the medical staff had realized that the patient was suffering from postpartum eclampsia that the patient’s family planned to file a nurse liability case against Klunder the nurse for poor documentation when providing health care services to the patient. Joan’s family claimed that the home health nurse had a legal responsibility of ensuring all information concerning the patient is properly documented and availed to other practitioners (Guido, 2010). According to Jane’s family other than Klunder being legally answerable for improperly documentation the patient’s medical condition and never relating the information provided from ICU with the prenatal information he had, there were also nurse liability issue concerning use of advanced equipments that they had failed to employ when caring for the patient. It is reported that even before delivery Joan had been receiving home health care and the nurse never suggested for her to be tested if she had eclampsia despite the fact that she showed symptoms that directly pointed to the condition. Klunder and Joan’s family case resulted to the death of the patient thus putting Klunder answerable for failing to follow nursing professionalism when providing home health care.
This case highlights that documentation of patient’s history is one of the nurse liability facing nurses in home health settings. In order to avoid the development oif this liability issue nurses in home health settings should ensure ensuring that they follow administration procedures when providing healthcare services. One of the administration procedures they should follow includes ensuring they clearly document the patient’s medical history. In cases where the patient was transferred to healthcare settings, nurses in home health settings should ensure that they request for medical report before resuming providing healthcare settings to the patient. Joan’s family members claimed that the ICU had provided medical information hinting that Joan may have postpartum eclampsia which they believe the nurse overlooked. In addition to avoid similar cases, nurses in home health settings should ensure they evaluate any incidents that could be used to identify a specific medical condition (Rostant & Cady, 1999). In this case the family members claimed that the patient had been showing pre-eclampsia symptoms which the nurse should have depended on to ensure he reduces the likelihood of postpartum eclampsia. In order to reduce liabilities nurses operating in home health settings should ensure they avail all the patients’ information to practitioners in case the patient is transferred into a health care center (Guido, 2010). In addition, in order to reduce liability nurses should ensure they follow nursing professionalism procedures when handing over a patient they had been handling to other medical practitioners (Guido, 2010). In Klunder and Joan’s family case, Klunder did not follow the set delegation process when receiving and transferring the patient to health care settings which increased the likelihood of the case having legally valid nursing liability issues (Guido, 2010).
Guido, G.W. (2010). Legal and ethical issues in nursing (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall
Judson, K, & Harrison, C. (2010). Law & Ethics for medical careers (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Rostant, D. M. & Cady, R. F. (1999). Liability issues in perinatal nursing. (2nd ed). US: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins publishers.