Importance of Acting Lawfully when Working as a Nurse
Arguably, nursing is one of the professions that require a lot of care not only because it entails dealing with the life of people, but also the high chances of facing lawsuits due to failure to follow rules and regulations (Burgess, 2008). Nurses are required to take extra care in the manner they handle issues that pertains to their patients. Legally, nurses owe their patients a duty of care, which could lead to legal actions if this duty is violated (Forrester & Griffiths, 2010). As a nurse, it is imperative to act lawfully in various roles and responsibilities. This requires understanding of issues of the duty of care, negligence, malpractice, documentation, and confidentiality of the patients. All these factors illustrate why it is important for nurses to act within the legal framework in their day-to-day service delivery.
It is also important for nurses to act lawfully because of the nature of risks associated with this profession. Risk reduction is one of the major roles of nurses in their profession. It is, therefore, important that nurses stick to the nursing law in order to reduce risks involving patients. The nursing law concerning risk avoidance emphasizes that nurses should do all that they can in their power to promote health of patients through reducing risks (Kralik & Van, 2011). The nursing laws and regulations help in improving human health and welfare of patients. Besides the risks involving patients, nurses also face the risk of being deregistered if they fail to act lawfully while performing their roles and responsibilities. There are rules and regulations that have been set by the nursing governing body which guides nurses on how they should undertake their duties (Burgess, 2008). Failure to adhere to these rules and regulations pose a risk of a nurse being deregistered from the nursing governing body, which means that the nurse in question would not be allowed legally to operate in any given hospital (Stein-Parbury, 2009). Particularly, deregistration due to the failure to adhere to the nursing rules and regulations means that the affected nurses would lose his/her job. Therefore, acting within the law is one way a nurse to secure his/her job.
Documentation is a very crucial factor specifically in the nursing profession and in medicine in general. In fact, documentation matters a lot when it comes to the kind of care that a patient is to be accorded (Stein-Parbury, 2009). Wrongful documentation could lead to lawsuits against a nurse, or worse still the death of a patient especially due to administration of wrong medication based on the wrongful documentation. According to the nursing law, nurses are required to be objective in their assessments, which should be reflected in their documentation. In this case, their assessments should be based on their sense of hearing, sight, touch, and smell (Staunton & Chiarella, 2012). Besides, nurses should focus on avoiding gaps in the medical records of the patients. Perhaps, this could be done through making use of the available technology. On the same note, during the documentation process, nurses are required to stick to their facility’s documentation policies. Failure to do so could tarnish the reputation of the facility, and worse still unnecessary loss of life (Burgess, 2008). All these arguments show why it is important for a nurse to act within the law in her/his line of duty.
Acting lawfully as a nurse is also important in enhancing confidentiality. The nursing laws require a nurse to be confidential with patients' information. In fact, confidentiality is one of the issues that have been covered in the constitution of most countries, which shows how important it is within the nursing fraternity. Most patients confide in their nurses, and tell them things they would not want any other person to find out, not only regarding their health complications, but also their lifestyle in general (Halcomb, Patterson, and Davidson, 2006). In most cases, this piece of information is helpful for nurses and doctors in determining the best way possible to help the patient. Additionally, some patients who suffer from what is considered as 'embarrassing diseases' may require their nurses to be quiet about. When nurses proof to their patients that they are confidential, the patients get peace of mind and become more comfortable when dealing with nurses because they are sure that their information is safe with the nurses (Kralik & Van, 2011). It is therefore, important that nurses act lawfully according to the existing nursing laws in order to improve patient-nurse confidentiality, which helps enhance openness in patients that later helps them to obtain professional help from the nurses.
In conclusion, it is clear that laws of practicing nursing are very important due to various reasons as discussed above. For instance, they help promote efficiency within the nursing profession, through acting as a guiding factor on how nurses should behave in the line of duty as well as towards their patients. Nursing laws are usually strict, and they help in ensuring that all nurses carry out their duties responsibly and with discipline. The laws are also significant in that they help reduce the risk that can easily occur in the as a result of negligence and lack of discipline among nurses. Nurses owe the patients the duty of care, and this can only be attained if they act lawfully. Most importantly, failure to adhere to the nursing laws as well as other laws outside the nursing field but which affect effective working, could contribute to deregistration from the nursing body; meaning that the nurse would not be fit to serve in any hospital or facility from a legal perspective.
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Forrester, K., & Griffiths, D. (2010). Essentials of law for health professionals. Chatswood, N.S.W: Elsevier Australia.
Halcomb, J.E.; Patterson, E; and Davidson, P.M. (2006). Evolution of practice nursing in Australia. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Vol. 55(3), 376-388
Hyland, D. (2009). An exploration of the relationship between patient autonomy and patient advocacy: implications for nursing practice. Nursing Ethics, Vol. 9(5), 472-482
Kralik, D., & Van, L. A. (2011). Community nursing in Australia. Milton, Qld: John Wiley & Sons Australia.
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. (2014). Codes and Guideline. Retrieved from http://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Statements/Codes Guidelines.aspx
Staunton, P. J., & Chiarella, M. (2012). Law for nurses and midwives. Chatswood, N.S.W: Elsevier Australia.
Stein-Parbury, J. (2009). Patient & person: Interpersonal skills in nursing. Chatswood, N.S.W: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.