Welcome back everyone.
Legal liablity is a vital consideration when
beginning your career as professional nurse.
In order to protect yourself, it's important to understand
both civil and criminal law within context of healthcare.
Legal liability is a civil obligation imposed by law on a
wrongdoer requiring compensation of an injured party through
monetary damages or some other legal remedy
for the consequences of the wrongful act.
There are two types of law we
are going to discuss today.
First - criminal law.
Second - civil law.
Criminal law is based on statutes.
Statutes are laws created by the legislator
and signed into law by the executive.
The governor for state laws and the president
of the United States for federal laws.
Crimes are prohibitions against the
behaviors that are so egregious
that they offend society not
just the individual victim.
Punishment for crimes.
This are fines and/or jail depending on the
level of the offense and other factors.
And they are delineated
in the criminal statute.
Nurses can be subject to criminal law for such
behaviors as stealing or misusing narcotics,
practicing without a license or intentionally
causing physical harm to a person in their care.
Now criminal offenses violate the public trust
and safety and they carry serious consequences.
Next we will discuss civil law or Tort.
This is a personal wrong rather than
a public wrong such as a crime.
And it also includes monetary compensation.
Two different types of civil law are simple or regular negligence,
or professional negligence, otherwise known as malpractice.
Negligence includes four elements.
The first elements of negligence
is found in the duty of care.
This element emphasizes that one party has the legal obligation
to act in a specific manner toward the other party.
The second element is to prove that
there is a breach of that duty of care
because the individual or entity fails
to fulfill their requirements or duties.
As the third element of negligence, causation
involves proving that the breach of duty of care
is what results in the damages and
injuries - actual causes in existence
but if the duty of care had not been breached,
tehre would not have been injuries.
Harm is the fourth element of negligence.
The plaintiff must have suffered injuries and damages
that could be remedied by monetary settlement.
So for example, money can compensate
for medical expenses, lost wages,
pain and suffering, and the loss of
quality of life after an accident.
That with negligence, the burden of proof is with
the plaintiff or the one who issues the complaint.
Negligence is a common standard for motor vehicle
accidents - personal injury outside of the medical setting.
In healthcare, professional liability
or malpractice is a standard
by which a licensed professional nurse
will be judged from a government.
The nurse's licensure and scope of practice
are derived from the state's practice act.
All states hava a nurse practice act.
Nurse practice acts define nursing practice, delineate the
educational and other requirements for licensure and renewal,
give notice to the public of the sort of
behaviors that can be expected from a nurse,
and identify what unacceptable practices might subject
the nurse to disciplinary review or sanctions.
There are safeguards in place for professionals.
The first one is a statute of limitation.
In general, this is a statutory time limit by which the
plaintiff must file a lawsuit against a professional
or they lose that opportunity forever.
An affidavit of merit is a sworn
document by a like-kind of professional
such as a doctor for doctor defendant and a nurse for
nurse defendant who reviews the injured patient's chart
and based upon the reviewers education and experience,
makes a statement about the case that has merit
and should be permitted to go to trial.
Laws are found in case books, as well as online
and official reports in legal research services
A reported case is one that can
be found in an official reporter.
Now the nurse can also serve as a witness.
The first type of witness a nurse
can serve as is a fact witness.
A fact witness is someone who can testify
from his or her own observations.
For example, the nurse might have observed the patient
fall in a hospital hallway but it was not their patient.
A fact witness may not offer an opinion but they must testify
only to personal knowledge what they see or what they hear.
An expert witness is a person with specialized knowledge
who aids the judge, and jury in the case of a jury trial
to understand something that is beyond
the scope of the average individual.
Experts base their opinion and their testimony
on their knowledge, education and experience.
A professional liability case cannot
be proven without an expert witness
who can testify as to the actions or
inactions of the professional defendant.
So how do we avoid liability?
First, know your applicable state
nurse practice acts and rules.
Be sure to practice within the scope
of your professional practice.
Know and keep current with all employer
policies and procedures governing patient care.
When in doubt about a procedure, treatment or
medication, seek input from the appropriate person.
For example, maybe a pharmacist,
another physician or fellow nurse,
Kepp your nursing practice
current and up to date
Know and adhere to standards of practice.
Never undertake a procedure or treatment or use patient care
equipment if you're not confident or proficient to do so.
Follow the priniciples of good documentation whether
in the form of paper or electronic documentation.
Communicate any changes in the patient's condition
with those who need to know the information
such as physicians, nurse
managers or other staff members
Carefully and regularly monitor the patients
for any changes whether positive or negative.
And finally, remember to assess patients
initially and in an ongoing basis thereafter
utilizing input from licensed profeessional
nurses and other nurse staff members.
Remember, legal liability is ever present
in the professional life of a nurse.
So in thinking of everything we've covered today,
I'd like for you to consider this question:
What are the four elements of negligence?
They are duty, breach, cause and harm.
I hope you've enjoyed today's
video on civil and crininal law.
Thanks so much for watching.