Legal and Ethical Issues in Nursing

Most common potential legal liabilities of Nurse Managers and how to avoid or minimize them.
In professional nursing practice, nurse managers must know applicable state law and use the nurse practice act for guidance and appropriate action. It is their responsibilities to monitor the practice of nurses under their supervision and ensure personnel maintain current and valid licensure. Unless nurse practice acts in all the states in which they supervise employees, there will be constant potential for liability.
Nurse Managers are directly responsible for ensuring that standards of care, as written in the hospital policy and procedure manuals, are current and that all staff members follow these standards of care.
Nurse managers can best avoid issues of doctrine of respondent superior (Let the master answer); which makes employers accountable for the negligence of their employees. This they can do by ensuring that the staff they supervise know and follow hospital policies and procedures and continually deliver safe, competent nursing care or raise issues about policies and procedures through formal channel.
Delegation involves the transfer of responsibility for the performance of tasks and skills without the transfer of accountability for the ultimate outcome. The nurse manager retains personal liability for the reasonable exercise of assignment, delegation and supervision activities. Means of ensuring continuing competency include continuing education programs and assignment of a staff member to work with a second staff member to improve technical skills.
A newer area of potential liability for nurse managers is the failure to warn potential employers of staff incompetence or impairment. Subsequent employers should be made aware of information about suspected addictions, violent behavior and incompetency of any staff forced to resign or suspicion to warrant a discharge.
Although the healthcare institution is ultimately responsible for staffing issues, nurse managers...